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  • Writer's pictureRavi Putcha

4 Mistakes My Past Customers Made in Photoshoots & How You Can Avoid Those Mistakes

You booked a photoshoot for headshots.

You are about to take your online personal brand building game to the next level.

The shoot is scheduled too, you are all set!


Now what?

A successful photoshoot is not just about finding the right photographer, it is also about mistakes, especially someone else's mistakes – because most probably this is the first time you are having a professional shoot done - because learning from your own mistakes is going to be expensive and time consuming. Learning from the mistakes of other, you can avoid those mistakes (perhaps make new mistakes, ha ha!) and get the results you are looking for - it is a shortcut to wisdom.

headshot photography

Here are 4 mistakes I saw my past clients make – these mistakes recur with uncomfortable regularity. I wish I could turn the clock back to tell them how to avoid them but I can’t. What I can do instead is to document these mistakes, let you know about them, make sure you avoid them. So here we go…

Mistake No. 1: Not preparing for the shoot – putting too much trust in Photoshop instead.

Photographer needs to be prepared for the shoot as he is getting paid. That's true!

I do, I come prepared not just for a regular photoshoot but also for eventualities like equipment failures, delays etc., but your role is equally important. You are the sponsor, you are the one getting portraits done, your portraits, and you ought to be prepared for the shoot.

I noticed that some people don’t prepare – either because someone else was forcing them to be in the photoshoot or because they think it is not necessary because of this attitude, ‘what are we paying the photographer for? He will do the work, all I need to do is just show up for the shoot‘


‘the photographer can fix these issues in Photoshop later'.

This didn’t work well for those clients. Why?

Preparation has 2 components

1.   Mental preparation (reading this blog post is a part of it)

Being mentally prepared is about knowing what you need to do to prepare and why. Understand the process, ask questions, don’t assume anything.

2.   Grooming & attire

You don’t need to look like someone else, you just need to be yourself, a confident, comfortable self and grooming is the way to get there. Recall how you felt when you were wearing a nice suit that you think makes you look better than your normal self. It is the attire that made you feel good, feel confident and happy, right? Psychologists call this feeling 'Enclothed Cognition'. That’s what we are looking for, that feeling of confidence and happiness. You can’t have the same feeling while you are wearing a worn-out t-shirt and old Bermudas. I have another blog post about this topic. I will leave a link for you to read it at the end of this article.

Similarly, there are no shortcuts to grooming. You got to shave, get a haircut done, trim your beard, facial hair, put on makeup (for women), do what’s necessary to make yourself look your best version. If you look your best in the mirror, you can look great in your headshots too.

When you got both the attire and grooming down, you got to feel great during the shoot.

Confidence can’t be faked. Even professional actors and models use techniques to get into a right mindset before the act – that’s what the training in acting/modeling is all about.

You don’t need to ‘act’, you just have to be yourself. A confident self, a happy self that you want your clients, employers, colleagues, investors to see and only way to get there is to groom right and dress right. There are no shortcuts.

Photoshop is overrated. It can’t do all the things laymen think it can. It is just a dumb piece of software – not a wizard. If you are in doubt as to what can be fixed and what can’t be fixed, please check with me - don’t assume anything.


Mistake No. 2: Not giving enough time for the shoot

It only takes 125th part of a second to take a photo. But obviously that’s not enough time to get you a great headshot. Because many things need to fall in place for that and it takes time to do make sure they do.

·       The setup needs to be done and ready

·       You need to look and feel comfortable

·       We need to try different looks, different lighting to see what works best (yes, it is an experiment)

Hurrying through the shoot is a very bad idea. You are putting the photographer to stress test and setting yourself up for failure – meaning you won’t get the results you were looking for. You need to give it time and be patient.

Please don’t plan anything big on the day of the shoot – that will stress you out. Allow a generous buffer – if the shoot is expected to last for 2 hours, have 4 hours blocked in your calendar. That you can make it less stressful for yourself and get the best possible results.

If something comes up and as a result you can’t give enough time, ask for the shoot to be rescheduled. Don’t think of just getting it done quickly. It is not something to be taken casually – we are talking about your personal brand here. Shortcuts and hurried work can never get you the best possible results.

Mistake No. 3: Turning the photoshoot into an IPL watch party

You are taking it seriously, I get it. You think this is an important thing – good for you! But don’t please confuse this for a social event, this is not a social event.

Actually, a photoshoot is a very personal event, an intensely private event. It is about you and you alone. No one else, not even the family members closest to you will be in your headshot (it is a different matter if you want a family portrait).

A headshot is all about you and you only. We are going to capture your personality in your headshot. Hence, please don’t do any of these:

·     Don’t invite people over to watch/guide you with it, that's my job and I will take care of it

·     Please ask your family members, colleagues or friends to give you space. Ask them to AVOID sticking around, avoid watching how it is all going.

·       Please ask everyone (other than me, LOL!) to leave the room to come back later to help you select the photos.


Mistake No. 4: Not taking my suggestions (about poses, photo selection, others)

You are an expert about yourself, understood. No one knows you better than yourself, okay, agreed!

But you engaged my service for a reason, right? You wanted the kind of headshots I shoot. And I have a specific process for helping you pose, to get you comfortable. I may have a fair idea what makes you look good and I will ask you to turn your chin towards me, look away, lean forward a bit (or all at once, LOL!) – when I do, please follow my lead! Please, work with me!

You need to trust me to know what I am doing. In the same manner that you trust a doctor to prescribe you right medicines, you need to trust me to do the right thing for you. I am invested in my work many times more than any of my clients because this is the only thing I do; I do this for a living. Each headshot I produce adds or subtracts from the reputation I painstakingly built. This is very important and valuable for me.

Please act on my suggestions.

I assure you, I keep an open mind – I am happy to hear your thoughts and ideas too.

If you have a different idea, we can do that too, let’s go as I suggest as well as with your ideas. Let’s experiment and see what works. Let’s keep it a win – win.

A couple of clients were adamant about certain ways of posing, certain ways of composing my shots (can you believe it?) both of them were not as happy as they could be had they followed my lead. They thought they knew better about how they look good. Sure they do, in a mirror not in a headshot – that’s my department, they should have trusted me with my work but they didn't and now they know.

I hope this helps you get a picture about what not to do before and during the photoshoot. If anything is not clear please message me or call me and I am happy to clarify it for you. Oh! Here's the link to another related blog post I was referring you earlier in this post.

Good luck with your photoshoot!


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