Low-Cost Model Headshot Alternatives

What is a model headshot?

The first photo of a person was kind of an accident. The story goes, some time in the 1800 Louis Daguerre, a Romantic painter and printmaker, was the one to took the first photo. While trying to capture a photo of  Boulevard du Temple in Paris, Daguerre caught a snap of a man getting his shoes polished due to prolonged exposure feeding into the camera. 

These days photos are less of an accident, being far more intentional. Model headshots in particular have their place. If you’re an aspiring model, the headshot is essentially your branding image, in a close-up photo. It should showcase you in natural lighting, showing a range of faces, expressions and features. 

Your headshot is what makes you unique. It’ll be the first thing an agency or potential client sees, and can be the last thing they remember. Make it count.

Five simple rules for taking the perfect model headshot

Model headshot backgrounds: keep it simple

The background for your model headshot should be simple, clean and decluttered for any distractions that take away from your face and features. Using a simple, uncluttered background allows the focus to remain on the model and their face. This can help to showcase your unique features, and helps let your personality shine through. 

Model headshot wardrobe: keep it comfortable

Just like everything else, think about the types of work you want to book. From there you should get some sense of what outfits you should and shouldn’t even consider wearing. Choose a few different outfits you can swap and try on to see what works. Lean on your photographer for inspiration. They have an eye for bringing out the best in their models. A good photographer can help inform what photographs well. 

Model headshot hair and makeup: keep it minimal

Unless you’re shooting pageant headshots, you’ll want to keep your model headshot’s hair and makeup minimal. But at the end of the day, you should be comfortable with what you’re presenting. Use makeup to accentuate certain features, and touch up blemishes. Some models can think of their headshot as a MAC campaign, which unless it is, shouldn’t be Hair and makeup should take a backseat to you, your face and your unique features that could help you stand out for particular industries or shoots you’re looking for. Consider where shadows hit your face, and avoid exaggerated features that might create a cascading effect of light against your face. Go easy on retouching your final images. Agencies and clients want to visualize how you would look in person as if you were standing across from them, close up. They want to know exactly who they’re booking, and not be given a surprise when you walk into the room.

Model headshot poses: keep it playful (and don’t be scared to try new things)

Besides your face, poses can make or break your entire headshot. Be experimental, but poses that are too… unconventional, can photograph less than desirably. Before you waste precious time with your photographer (remember, you might be  paying by the hour), consider the type of modeling work that you are interested in booking. Depending on the type of work, you’ll want to bring that into your poses. Like, let’s say you’re an aspiring fashion model, you may want to try the poses trending on social media and digital fashion magazines. You’ll want to try out different angles and poses that can highlight different fashion-forward features. 

How much do model headshots cost?

We’ve talked a lot about how to set yourself up to take the perfect headshot, but this all costs money. The photographer, the hair, the makeup, and the outfits are an expense to consider If you're considering investing into modeling, there’s no way around needing headshots. But what's the damage?

On average, you can expect to spend anywhere from $200 to $500 just for a photographer. These prices can range greatly depending on where you are.

Other factors like headshot style and the photographer experience can sway the price.Here are a few different model headshot options and price ranges:
Studio & Outdoor Headshot Package - $500

📷 60 minutes of shooting time in-studio, 30 minutes of outdoor shooting (or vice-versa, depending on preferences)
📷 Digital download of all best photos3-4 outfit changes or looks
📷 Digital downloads of all the shoot's best photos
📷 High-res image files for download
📷 Light blemish retouching on a selection of images

Standard Headshot Package - starting at $200

📷 Photographers might offer a headshot package which includes a series of headshots, likely focused on a small selection of angles and poses
📷 Additional images can be purchased
📷 May or may not include touchups in the initial pricingUp to 30 minutes of shooting time (typically enough time for two or more outfit changes)
📷 High-res image files for download1-3 outfit changes 30-minute in-studio
📷 Recommended for professionals needing multiple business portraits

AI Headshot Package - $29

These days models are making the most of self-serve digital technology like social media apps, and high-quality phone cameras to create their own studio-quality headshots. 

Bettershot takes this one-step further by using AI (or “artificial intelligence”) to provide an cost-effective, and speedy alternative to traditional model headshot photography.Their digital application turns just a few casual photos you upload to their system into stunning headshots for just $29.

Included in the price are 120 high resolution (4K) studio-quality headshots, ready for download in just two hours compared to days or even weeks with traditional photography.