Something I run into a lot at Joanna’s studio is actors who aren’t familiar with the pre or post shoot process when it comes to taking headshots. I find myself answering the same handful of questions day in and day out, and that’s okay! That’s what I’m here for! And to be honest, I love doing it. I love being helpful and I love walking a newbie through their first session and seeing how happy and excited they are before, during, and after the shoot. It’s what keeps me clocking in every day (that, and Joanna’s new puppy, Taters). 

A few months ago, I blogged about booking headshots and our pre-shoot process, so Joanna suggested I hop back on the blog and go over the post shoot process.

I also thought this would be a good idea because I think where actors can get ripped off the most is during the post shoot process. I’ve heard horror stories of actors paying thousands of dollars for color correction or retouching after the shoot and I just want to try to get us all on the same page with that because as actors, we struggle enough, we shouldn’t have to go into debt to whiten our teeth and hide some blemishes in our headshot, right?

Right. So, I’m going to give you a quick run down of what we do at Joanna’s and hopefully that sets some kind of bar/standard for you or at the very least, you know what kinds of questions to ask your next photographer about their post shoot process.

After Joanna shoots an actor, I go through that actor’s photos and I color correct their entire session. Joanna shoots Camera RAW, which allows us to go into each file and make adjustments so the photos have that “Joanna Pop.” Some photographers don’t do that. Some shoot JPEG in the camera which leaves all the post processing decisions to the camera. We think that’s kinda lazy. Now, color correcting is NOT retouching. Color correcting is like what we do on Instagram (minus the filters). It’s up-ing the contrast or exposure (brightness), it’s saturating the image to make it a little warmer, or brightening the shadows, or sharpening. It’s the little tweaks that really make the image pop. It takes me about 45 minutes to an hour to color correct an entire gallery, which yes, is a substantial amount of time, but again, it’s what I’m here for and it’s one of the reasons our images look so special. I can understand a photographer who doesn’t have an assistant, not color correcting their clients galleries before they send them off. It’s time consuming and tedious and probably not something anyone wants to do over and over again after a full shoot day. That’s okay. However, a photographer should not be charging you for color correction. Actors: don’t pay for that, and photographers: quit charging us for it, it’s rude. 

Once I’ve color corrected everything, I upload your entire session to an online viewing gallery. Actors: YOU SHOULD GET YOUR ENTIRE SESSION IN AN ONLINE VIEWING GALLERY. That’s what you’ve paid for! If a photographer doesn’t give you everything, they’re ripping you off. You should also get your entire gallery in a downloadable format. The galleries we send can be downloaded easily, directly from the site and we go over how to do that with you before you leave the studio on the day of your shoot. If you can’t download straight from the gallery, the photographer should send you a WeTransfer or DropBox or some kind of download so that you can save and backup your entire session in high-res format.

So, you have your gallery, you’ve looked through it, downloaded it, and you’ve picked what you want to use. Great! Now what?

There are two things you can ask your photographer to do with the images you want to use, retouching or resizing. The biggest difference between the two? You pay for retouching, you should not pay for resizing. 

Retouching is cleaning up things like hair, teeth, skin, makeup, stains on clothing, etc. Retouching is a special, time consuming, skill, so yes, all photographers will charge you for retouching. How much? That’s up to them. At Joanna’s studio you get one complimentary retouch (yes, one total, not one per look, just one) and additional retouching is $40 per image. That’s pretty standard. I’d say retouching will cost between $40 and $75 per photo, depending on the photographer. We don’t charge quite as much as other places because we understand the struggling actor life and appreciate how hard you’re working to make ends meet while simultaneously pursuing your dreams.

Resizing is NOT something you should pay for! All resizing does, is give you a smaller size of the photo so that you can upload it to Actor’s Access, LA Casting, and IMDb. When you request a retouch, the photographer should send you a high-res version to print from and a low-res version to put on breakdowns. The only time to ask for resizing is if the photo is not being retouched but is going on breakdowns (and only breakdowns, please don’t ask me to resize six photos for your instagram).

So that’s it. I know it’s a lot of information, but it should be pretty straight forward. 

As an actor, I know how easy it is to trust people in this industry and shell out thousands of dollars for pictures and classes and workshops and footage that everyone tells you you need, and they’re right you do need it. But, you shouldn’t be spending a fortune to get it, and on the flip side, you shouldn’t be trying to cut corners to get it for free. For example, don’t let you roommate take your headshots. I know they have a nice camera and understand basic composition, but 99% of the time, those photos are going to come out looking like your roommate with a decent camera and basic knowledge of composition took them and then, you look like a very green actor to anyone who receives that headshot in submission format. 

I guess my point is, there’s a sweet spot between paying too much and paying too little. Somewhere between, “I just took out my third credit card to pay for my headshots” and “my friend took these for free, so I got what I paid for”, is that sweet spot and I like to think that’s where we, over here at Joanna DeGeneres Photography, live. There are other wonderful photographers living in that sweet spot too, find them. Set a standard for yourself. What are you willing and able to pay for? What shouldn’t be an additional expense? Where can you save yourself some time, money, and a possible headache? 

As everyone likes to tell you, you’re the CEO of your own business. You’re also the accountant and it’s your job to know what you’re paying for and what you’re not. Stay savvy, actor friends!