The studio is in a low-use basement part of a shared building. There is a hand sanitiser at the main entrance to the building and I put one outside the studio when clients are visiting. Surfaces that headshot sitters are likely to come into contact with are wiped down before and after.
Due to the nature of the studio it is unlikely that anyone other than myself will have used the studio itself for a couple of days prior to a headshot visit unless we are doing multiple shots in a sitting.
Part of the process has previously been that we breakout and view the images on a laptop to consider progress. At this time we have added a second monitor to maintain this important aspect of the service whilst maintaining social distancing.
We ask clients to bring their own water at the moment although in the mornings Matt is selling coffee from Timber Coffee in the crescent.
Our policy is that we treat clients with respect, understanding and integrity. We understand that on occasions the unexpected happens.
Late cancellations cost us a great deal of time and money and last minute cancellations result in studio downtime and un-necessary expense. We generally attend the studio up to two hours before a headshot session to prepare, this involves time as well as travelling and parking costs. Also a late cancellation will mean that we have also lost revenue for that slot.
To date have not charged deposits for portrait sittings at the time of the booking because we are convinced that if we treat our clients with integrity they will do the same to us. No one likes to issue or receive an invoice for a cancellation fee and we avoid it where ever possible.
On a basic human level no one enjoys being dropped at the last minute.
We insist that young people are accompanied by a responsible adult, on some occasions the adults have been accompanied by responsible young people. Sometimes people just bring friends along.
We ask that people under the age of eighteen are at least accompanied by an adult. Sometimes people sit in on the session, on occasions people have busied themselves around the studio – made tea even!
The studio is small and there is separate smaller lockable adjoining room that is used for changing.
We specialise in all kinds of commercial headshot photography for: businesspeople, actors, artists, men, women, young, and not so young.
A lot of our headshot shoots are simple one to one sessions in our studio.
We regularly run headshot events for companies wishing to record their employees in a single day or over a small number of photoshoots. We normally look to set up a studio in a spare office or conference room. Sometimes local companies send their colleagues to our studio.
With company portrait shoots we will ideally liaise closely with a facilitator throughout the session(s). We urge companies to be realistic about the time required to photograph each person in order to capture images of a suitable standard without the sitters feeling pressurised or uncomfortable.
Good headshots are generally best undertaken in a relaxed and private environment.
It depends on the both the sitter’s wishes and the package that we are offering.
We have recently opened a dedicated headshot studio in Southernhay, central Exeter and the majority of our simple sittings are taken here.
One to one sittings can be shot in a number of locations, ranging from city centre office locations to a larger studio space often used for the longer and more developed sessions. We usually discuss and advise in the preliminary talks.
Group corporate sittings are often carried out at the company’s offices though companies near to Southernhay often attend sittings at our studio individually throughout a morning or day.
Once the booking is confirmed we will send you an email link to a page about your personalised headshot session.
This will contain: confirmation of the price, links to Google maps for the location, all of the contact details that you will need, links to enter the scheduled session into either your iPhone or your Android/Google device.
Our main market is commercially based, images for businesspeople, actors and models. We aim to bring out the best in people and have very well-developed retouching skills.
Our approach is to record what exists in a sensitive and appealing way, so our approach is much more biased to the camera than the computer; after all, we like to think that people could be recognised by their headshots!
The ideal start point is to be relaxed, so get some good sleep and rest the night before. Allow time for the shoot; few people can hide their stress and looking like they want to be somewhere else. Ideally aim to arrive in a relaxed state and, if possible, try not to have arrangements to rush off to immediately afterwards, as this could be detrimental to the shooting experience.
Feel free to bring a change of clothes, ideally well prepared and ironed.
Hairbrush! If you have hair that is.
We usually have lens cleaning equipment in the studio but clean spectacles always photograph better.
Simple works well, patterns can take over but rules can be broken.
A headshot will generally cover upper torso and head so, in theory, one could wear a suit jacket and trainers. Headshots will hopefully have some longevity so although that ‘party’ shirt may look great, it could ‘date’ with time; we are aiming for people to recognise the face before the shirt.
Necklines need to make sense when the image is cropped reasonably tight. V-necks offer a good line to photograph, open shirts too. Off the shoulder tops or tops with thin straps can look awkward, but may reveal a fantastic collar-line.
Ideally, shirts should be well ironed. Clients who want shirt – jacket – tie shots sometimes bring a plain white shirt, a selection of ties and a jacket in a suit-bag. We may then do shirt no tie, shirt and tie, shirt jacket and tie. This sounds simple but it’s surprising how many different looks can be achieved.
Try the clothes on in front of a mirror first, is it too tight or too loose, does the sort or top fit your shoulders and neckline comfortably?
Please try to bring spare clothes to a session on hangers rather than crumpled in a bag.
Feel free to discuss ideas with us before your headshot session.
You will know what look you are most comfortable with.
Probably best to avoid a haircut the day before the shoot though, a bit of time between cut and shoot may offer a more relaxed look and avoid the risk of cancellation due to a haircut ‘issue’.
People with longer hair may wear it both up and down offering sometimes startlingly differing looks in a single session. Feel comfortable to experiment during the shoot.
Very short-cropped hair may benefit from a trim on the morning but be sure to clear away any trimmings before the shoot and, if you routinely shave (chin or head), do so before the shoot but try to get a good, tidy and complete shave.
If you wear makeup consider developing your look throughout the session, starting with the natural end of things.
Putting it simply (bluntly maybe) it is easier to rectify a severe skin breakout than bad makeup. Clumping mascara and mascara ‘dust’ is time consuming to retouch. Similarly uneven foundation will be difficult to resolve.
Consider emphasising either lips or eyes.
Most of your final photographs will have some gentle hand retouching.
We do not use any ‘glamour-portrait’ plugins all retouch work is very much an individual shot by shot process. Our principal market is commercially focussed headshots; we aim to communicate the best in the sitter with honesty. Most people who are used to viewing headshots, such as casting agents, will see through a heavily retouched image immediately.
That said, we will tidy up skin breakouts and the like with subtlety and expertise.
It is fair to note that the many of our portraits are shot in landscape format (wider than they are tall). Generally in a sitting we will shoot both landscape and portrait format; however for many modern applications the landscape format will find more use. Shooting wide often allows an image to be cropped in a variety of aspect ratios.
Maybe it is through watching too many films but having the opportunity to place the image within some neutral space seems to allow the image to ‘breathe’ a little more freely.
Ultimately the style of the session will be decided by the likely end use of the images
Every session is different and in truth most people who come to us say “I need a single shot for my _____ profile.”
We try to aim for more than a single image and now offer a range of packages that are subtly different and suitable for a variety of needs and uses.
Our standard headshot session offer includes three retouched images with the option to purchase more retouched images.
We invariably shoot live to the Mac meaning that the raw images can be checked as the session proceeds. Frequently sitters make their own preselection at this point though we generally allow them for people to reflect on the images before making a final selection.
We use an online platform that will let you see a personalised gallery of images online, we will send you a link once your proofing page is ready.
We shoot with the aim to target an agreed amount of images. We shoot to RAW, meaning that all images need to be processed before users are able to open them. Working up all of the useable images would take a lot of time and push the price up.
Also there will always be a number of images that don’t work, whether it’s blink-blinks or an unrelaxed expression, particularly with people not used to being in front of a camera. Our approach is to present a selection of images that we know, based on our professional experience, the sitter will be comfortable with.
At this point we don’t have in-house printing facilities. However, we routinely use a couple of companies, one in Exeter and one in Bristol, who have invested thousands in up-to-date technology and have a good range of paper stock. Typically we will liaise on your behalf to discuss the job with the printer, source prices and deliver a suitable file. After that, we will hand over to you to place your order and arrange collection and payment directly with them.
At this point we don’t have in-house framing facilities. However we are happy to recommend a few small companies, one in Exeter, one in Cornwall and another in Bristol. Framing is a craft and a good framer will look at a print and make a number of suggestions about how to sensitively frame an image.
The suppliers that we recommend offer a great service at a competitive price.
Time, skill, experience, financial investment, professionalism.
Although the actual shooting time is frequently short, the set-up and clean-up time with photography is frequently longer. Most images are edited on the computer afterwards; one day’s shoot can easily need a second day to edit.
The skills that we bring have been developed over decades. These skills are constantly being updated with further training and researching of ideas and approaches.
It’s not all about the camera but good cameras help, as do the lighting and modifiers, the stands and grips, the cases and weather protection. We use totally up-to-date computer gear and the most modern software. Our technology investment runs into tens of thousands of pounds and is ongoing. You benefit from this when you use us.
Being professionals we use professional services. We run as a VAT registered Limited company. We also have extensive insurance to protect both us and you.
Whilst we have rarely had people cancel at very short notice, we have on occasion been notified just ten minutes before a shoot, sometimes via email. By then we have invested time in preparation for the shoot and have quite possibly turned down other paying work. Sometimes we may have also incurred hire charges for venues that leave us with the burden of a cost. For these reasons we ask for a booking deposit.
We appreciate that sometimes life gets in the way and we of course aim to work with our clients when these things happen.
Once the sitting is agreed we may ask for a booking deposit to confirm the slot. After the shoot we will supply low-res image proofs together with an invoice for the remainder of the fee. We will email a full (VAT) invoice in PDF format and prefer payment via a BACS transfers, as detailed on the invoice.
Payment is due in full at the sitting and clients are invited to pay via BACS immediately after the sitting Alternatively clients who cannot arrange BACS are welcome to pay in full with cash on the day, many people bring cash – we will supply a receipt.
Whilst we will in exceptional circumstances accept cheques made payable to MassCommunication Ltd these are now expensive and time-consuming for us to process.
Again, in exceptional circumstances we can process PayPal payments that allow you to pay via a credit/debit card, however due to the added costs we will ask for a 5% surcharge which is added to your invoice.
We can iZettle but we again ask for a 5% surcharge to cover the added costs, this is added to your invoice.
After the shoot, you will receive an email with a link to view the low-res images online. We are happy to discuss the images with you. Once you have selected the ones you want and paid any outstanding fees, we will provide you with a link to the hi-res version of the images to download to your computer.
Every sitting is different and some clients leave more time to select their final files than others. We generally aim to have final files ready within 2-3 working days after the final selection is made and will let you know if other commitments are likely to alter this.
We then deliver final images after payment has been received in full. Please let us know if your company’s accounts department will struggle to work with this though.
With commissioned photography the photographer owns copyright and retains it unless otherwise agreed in writing. This allows us to protect our work and avoid abuse of your image.
We do grant a Licence to Use (see FAQ).
A Licence to Use is granted for your images which is effective from the point that the relevant invoice has been paid in full. Permission to use images prior to payment in full can only be made by Andrew Butler – MassCommunication Ltd and this permission will be withdrawn if payment is not made in keeping with the terms of the invoice.