5 Words Headshot Photographers Should Never Say

One of the biggest mistakes I made early on as a head photographer was using the dreaded phrase, “I’ll fix it in post.” In today’s article and accompanying video, I share five reasons why I never tell my clients this, and why you shouldn’t either.

1. Most problems can be solved in the camera

The most obvious reason why we should avoid fixing things in post is that most of the time these things are simple fixes that can be done during the session. As an inexperienced photographer, I’ve found myself saying to my clients, “I can fix that hair in post-production” or “Sure, I can remove the collar if you like this photo” or “I’ll touch up the wrinkles. from your photoshop. shirt”, and other similar sentiments. I think I did this partly because I desperately wanted the client to be happy and didn’t have full confidence in my ability to solve certain problems in the session.

In reality, it takes far less time to tell someone their hair is out of place and correct the problem on the spot than it does to fill in hair gaps or remove endless stray hairs after the fact. Likewise, it’s much easier to ask a customer to remove earrings or a necklace that doesn’t fit well than to say “don’t worry, I’ll take it off in the mail”. And, if you’re confident in your method and your ability to capture great images, taking a few more images with a collar removed or hair parted differently is a much faster and better solution than leaving it for post-processing.

In fact, the best headshot photographers capture images that already look amazing in camera without retouching, and a photo editor’s job is to provide the finishing touches, not to do the heavy lifting of fixing flaws. mistakes that could have been avoided.

2. Time is money

Each of these “little” adjustments that we make and decide to “fix in post” ultimately take a lot of time, especially if you are editing your own photos. And, if you’re fairly new to the headshot game, chances are you’ll be doing all your own editing. Things like removing jewelry, cleaning up endless clumps of stray hair, toning down shadows on someone’s face, or fixing someone’s crooked smile, for example, seem easy enough to do when talked about on set, but I can tell you from experience that the minute you sit down to edit these images, you’ll sincerely regret not fixing it in session.

Think of it this way. Every minute you spend at your computer editing photos is a minute you’re not working on growing your business by doing things like booking new clients, updating your website and accounts. social media, answering emails or sending invoices. It’s also time you take away from being with your family.

Don’t forget that all these small corrections avoided during the shooting represent a lot of time after the fact.

3. Your mouth writes checks your butt can’t cash.

When you tell a client that you can fix something in post, you have to understand that the average person looks at Photoshop as some sort of silver bullet that can easily fix any perceived flaw in face, body, and clothing. Those of us who have been photographers for a while know that is not the case at all. In my experience, even things that seem simple enough to fix can sometimes turn out to be very difficult to accomplish, so if you promise to fix something in post, you risk the customer being very unhappy with the results.

Another thing to consider is that when you say to a customer, “I’ll do my best to solve this problem later”, what they really mean is: “It will be perfect when I get it. finished ! For this reason, it becomes of the utmost importance to communicate clearly with your clients and lower their expectations of what can (and will) be done during the editing process. The extreme vagueness of the phrase “fix it in post” almost guarantees that you and your client will have very different expectations in the future. And that brings me to my next point.

4. You have now opened the door to endless modifications

As soon as you tell your customer that you’ll just fix something in the mail, you’ve put the idea in his head that everything he sees in the picture, whether minor or major, can be fixed, and that several revisions are only part of your process, i.e. they are included in your standard rate.

Endless revisions are not part of a successful portrait photographer’s workflow because some things take much, much longer to correct than others. Once you open the door to “post repair”, without having very specific guidelines in place for what needs to be fixed, it can lead to multiple rounds of editing, and it will ultimately be your fault as the photographer because you haven’t communicated clearly and set realistic expectations for what can be “photoshopped” without making it look like the subject has been broached by an Instagram filter.

Instead of the open phrase “fix it in post”, I tell my clients that basic touch-up is included, and that amounts to cleaning up stray hairs, removing blemishes (no moving eyes or chin, for example), and other minor fixes like removing dust and smudges. small wrinkles in clothes. However, this does not include moving eyeballs, fixing twisted links, changing background colors, compressing heads to look thinner (yes, I’ve been asked that before), changing the shape of the nose or anything else that is not a typical cleaning job. As a photographer, these extra services cost me time and money, and if the client asks for it, I’m very happy to accommodate them, as long as they understand there are additional editing fees. Clear and fair editing fees immediately tell your client that endless revisions are not part of what they paid you as a photographer.

5. There’s a better way

The solution to your post-itis solution problem starts with you becoming a better photographer. The better you understand things like lighting, posing, makeup, hair, clothing, and a host of other issues, the easier it becomes to fix things during the session and do it with confidence and ease. But you can’t do what you don’t know, and the best way to learn is to get as many people as possible in front of your camera. Each unique face you photograph creates a cumulative learning experience, and the more people you capture, the easier it becomes to see and correct potential issues in real time.

My next suggestion is to take advantage of the many amazing tutorials available here on Fstoppers, like Peter Hurley’s Photography Tutorials or The Cinematic Headshot with Dylan Patrick, for example. These tutorials and others featured here are invaluable learning tools, and I find myself watching them over and over again because I learn something new every time.

Finally, I recommend joining an online photography group where you can post images and receive reviews and advice on lighting, posing, equipment, and more. Those who know me best know that I learned everything I know about headshots in Peter Hurley’s Headshot Crew, so it’s always high on my list when it comes to online communities ( and for the record, I am in no way endorsed by the Headshot team). I also learned a lot about lighting from Felix Kunze and highly recommend his tutorials as well as Lindsay Adler’s wonderful teaching resources. The best part is that all of these photographers offer a ton of free content on their YouTube channels, so I suggest you start there.

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