Are Affordable or Cheap Headshots Possible with a Photographer

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By The Light Committee

Anyone that has had headshots professionally made with a photographer is aware of how much they can cost in a city like Los Angeles or New York, amongst other cities. At one point in my research on pricing, I saw someone list an $8,000 rate for a headshot. While this is extreme, it is not uncommon to see most top-listed photographers with rates from $300 or more. So, is it possible to find affordable or cheap headshots in Los Angeles?

studio professional business headshot of a man
Is it Possible to Get Studio-Quality Headshots for Cheap in a City Like Los Angeles? Yes, it is.

Yes, Affordable or Cheap Headshots are Possible

First, affordable or cheap is a relative term. If most top-listed photographers ask $300 or more for their headshot photography, then is $200 a good deal? To some, finding a price like this would seem like a good price, but probably not if your budget is under $200. But is it possible to get under $200 and still match the quality results of someone asking, say $500 or more?

Anything is possible but buyer beware. Sometimes affordable or cheap headshots can mean inferior quality. A brief mention of AI headshots and how bad they can turn out is worthwhile. First, if you find value in a real photographer in the hundred dollar range, avoiding spending some $50 for AI headshots and the risk that comes with it becomes a no-brainer. AI headshots are riddled with cons.

You might post them and think you got away with it – no one noticed. But that’s just because no one is giving you that feedback. I recently had a client who came in after trying to post AI headshot to her online profiles. She’s fortunate that one of her friends spoke up, saying “they look nothing like you.” Then she asked others, and they said the same but weren’t going to tell her to avoid hurting her feelings. After she studied them more, she started to see for herself, her teeth did not look like that, the eyes were not hers, wait, neither was the body.

Back to finding value in a photographer. Much of it will stem from the business strategy of an affordable photographer. For example, some photographers will not buy or lease a commercial studio and will only do natural light. Removing the expense of a studio can save a photographer a lot, thus allowing them to charge less. But not having a studio also has a lot of limits. Changing outfits for another look becomes difficult. Where the sun is when you’re doing your session will have serious limitations, as will the chosen outdoor location.

But if you are willing to spend a little time researching, you can find a photographer with affordable or cheap headshot prices in Los Angeles.

woman doctor headshot pasadena ca
Value is out there to be had for a headshot with just a little bit of researching effort

Why Some Photographers Charge Hundreds of Dollars for Headshots

Some photographers charge hundreds of dollars for headshots simply because they can. This can be for a variety of reasons. First, they might come highly recommended. So, the person getting the recommendation just goes with it, telling themselves “I guess this is just how much they cost.”

The most obvious reason a photographer might have high prices is because they are famous. There are popular photographers that work with well-known celebrities or sports figures. Their popularity allows them to command more money. Simple as that.

Usually, photographers that charge high rates that are not famous can do so because of one reason, if we’re being honest. Most consumers today spend little time finding value. They want instant gratification. So, their web search pulls up a page of results. Often, consumers will not even go past what they see on the page as is. They’ll select one or two they see at the top of the list and go with it. This is fine if money is not a concern and you’re okay with the results they produce. But should you settle so easily?

90s look actress headshot in Los Angeles with Asia Holiday
Actors Might Think Headshots Have to Be Expensive for Them, But Affordable Acting Headshots are Attainable Too.

Do Your Work to Find Value Headshots in Los Angeles

You’ll have to spend 20-30 minutes to find value. If you work from a desktop or laptop, you can be much more efficient at finding value. Let’s walk through a search. I started this exercise at 12:03 pm.

Open Google search and Google Maps. You should do both. In each of them, do a search for “headshots Los Angeles.” Start with a Google search. This will pull up near 60 results – you can skip selecting the “more results” button. Go down the list and open each result in a new tab (you can easily do this on a PC holding down CTRL while clicking the “website” link, or OPT on a Mac) but there are some you can avoid or not open. Skip anything with Yelp, Thumbtack, or Bark because these are just other listings. Skip Instagram links – you won’t find the details you need there. Skip anything that looks like an article about headshots – that’s not what you’re researching.

Next, go to each tab and start to eliminate the obvious. Close the tab if they don’t list rates – you want a photographer that makes things simple. Close the tab if they are asking $200 or more for a basic session. In the end, I came up with less than ten listings. You might have some duplicates. So, be sure to close duplicate pages. Keep the other tabs open. Closing duplicates is an important step here. You’ll see why later. Again, BE SURE TO CLOSE DUPLICATES AT THIS POINT.

Next, open a new tab and repeat the “headshots Los Angeles” search on Google Maps. Now you are basically only opening any listing that has at least 150 reviews or more. Be sure to go through five pages on Google Maps. Sometimes Maps will not have pages and it is just an infinite scroll. Scroll to the end as this will be the quick part, taking just 1-2 minutes.

Repeat the same process as before, eliminate any open tabs that list rates of $200 or more or that make it tough to find rates. You will again have some duplicates. Now comes an important step. First, CLOSE ANY THAT ARE NOT DUPLICATES – THAT ONLY HAVE A TAB OPENED ONCE. Why? If you have them open twice, this means you easily found their rates of less than $200 when you did a Google search and then you found that they have at least 150 five-star Google reviews when you did the Maps search. So, if you have them opened twice, this means they are highly rated and have good rates.

This leaves you with a short list. Now you can make your selection. Check out their example photos, check out pictures of their studio to make sure they have one, and of course compare rates between them and what they include in a session. Time now is 12:31 or 28 minutes later. This saves you hundreds of dollars. Congratulations, you just found affordable or cheap headshots in Los Angeles that are also as good in quality as anyone asking for hundreds more.