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As a small business owner, keeping the lights on, paying employees and keeping clients happy costs money. Most small businesses run on a very slim profit margin; many times between three and seven percent. As a small business owner, your natural inclination is to save money wherever possible – whether it’s buying office supplies in bulk, meeting clients online instead of long-distance traveling and cutting corners on less client-oriented items, like your headshots. But a cheap business headshot can hinder your business and drive away potential clients. Here’s why cheap headshots cost so much, even when you pay so little for them. 

Cheap business headshots look cheap

Cheap business headshots look cheap because they are usually printed on less expensive stock, resulting in a lack of color depth and detail. They don’t reproduce well on your website or in promotional materials, and a potential client holding one in their hands thinks they’ve been handed (literally) a flimsy excuse for an introduction.

They are typically reprinted in a size smaller than the standard headshot size of 8″ x 10″. The smaller size may save you money, but a client may look at it and be reminded of their kids’ school pictures instead of a working professional.

Cheap headshots feature odd backgrounds

A professional headshot normally shows a neutral background; the subject stands out better against it. A cheap headshot attempts to jazz things up with a prettier background. A busy background is not professional; it looks like a 1980s glamour or boudoir shot.

A cheap business headshot’s background not only lacks neutral color best suited to the subject, it often consists of material unsuitable for a photograph, such as poorly draped cloth, blanket material, doors, walls, and cabinets. The client understands you work in an office environment, but portions of that environment should not be seen in your headshot, unless there is a strong and direct link to your business (such as a company selling outdoor, hunting or camping gear) and in that case, a secondary headshot featuring an additional background is acceptable.

Cheap headshot subjects look cheap

Once you cut corners on the photograph, you tend to keep cutting on other aspects, such as hair and makeup. Unless you’re a professional stylist, doing your own primping leads to a less-than-professional, more-like-early-Madonna look. It’s hard to look in the mirror and be honest with yourself when you’re a cheapskate about this cheap shot. You consider it a money-saving move. A client sees the result and wants to post it on social media tagged “Holy throwback, Batman!”

And along with hair and makeup, there’s the jewelry, accessories and the outfit. A professional stylist/photographer works with you to determine the colors, styles and shapes that flatter you. Going cheap means you might thrash through your wardrobe until you find what’s clean, mostly wrinkle-free and basically fits, and not knowing when enough jewelry is enough. 

Cheap business headshots don’t aim for the right angles

Full-face on headshots, with eyes staring directly into the camera, are best reserved for that unfortunate moment when the booking officer at the police station tells you, “Look straight into the camera.” A professional headshot is not a mugshot, therefore it should not look like one or be photographed like one. An experienced photographer knows at a glance if you have a “good” side and if that side needs to be highlighted with additional exposure.

There’s an acceptable amount of head, shoulders, torso, and skin suited for a professional headshot. How much makes the photo depends on the subject’s height and proportions, but a good photographer checks sizing and ensure no undue exposure of body parts, tattoos or piercings occurs. A cheap one goes for whatever the subject has to offer that they love or might tempt/shock a client. That makes a great art house photo, but not one a client is looking at and thinking, “I want to do business with this person.”

Korey Howell Photography specializes in bringing out the best in you and ensuring that your professional headshot is the partner and advocate for your business.  Contact Korey Howell Photography for more information and appointment availability.

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