You get what you pay for. It’s a cliché that has a lot of truth when it comes to how much a headshot costs. It’s also complicated to answer how much does it cost for headshots. There are many variables. That said, headshots don’t have to be expensive, at least not as much as many people think.
What are Common Ranges for Headshot Rates
It can depend on your location – more on this in a bit. However, the cost for professional headshots can range wildly. I’ve seen ranges in major metro areas from as low as $50 to as high as nearly $10,000. Yes, $10,000 – I’ve typed it twice as to ensure you know it’s not a typo.
That said, most range from $100 to a few hundred dollars for one to three headshots in a session. But, paying $300 for the same number of headshots that someone else charges $100 for is not an assurance of quality. So, anyone in the market for headshots would be well-served to shop for rates to suit their price range as well as to carefully review a photographer’s portfolio for quality. Again, with headshots the higher cost of a session with one photographer versus another does not necessarily indicate greater quality.
Location, Location, Location
It probably should go without saying that the cost of a headshot will have some variance depending on the city you’re in. For example, having a studio to provide headshots in Los Angeles or New York is far more costly than having a studio to provide headshots in small-town, USA.
To fully equip a studio requires a lot of capital and a lot of monthly expenses, from the gear to the lease, insurance, licenses, accountants, and so on. Some photographers might avoid many of these costs by using a home studio but, that also comes at the expense of not having as much dedicated space or as much equipment, which can limit capabilities.
What’s It For?
What you’re using the headshot for may also plays a role in the overall cost. For example, a single headshot for LinkedIn is less involved than an actor who might need two or three looks for their online casting profiles.
Also, various other factors might drive costs up or down. Some people want the photographer to travel to them or might want multiple backgrounds for greater options – factors that can increase costs.
Behind the Scenes
I’ve heard a few times someone say, “how much can it be – the photographer is only clicking a button.” That’s what amateurs do on a smartphone to “take” a photo. Headshot photographers “make” a headshot. There’s a lot of expensive gear that goes into lighting and shaping light for a scene. Then there’s the need for a good expensive camera, good post-production, and so on.
Also, remember that when visiting a headshot studio, that’s a full-fledged business, with all the expenses that come with running a business, from the sales and marketing, to production, to computer support, and on and on.
So, yes headshots cost money. Yes, some photographers charge a lot. But, if people put in the time and effort to research options for headshots, it’s possible to find real value and standout quality in a photographer.