Headshots on a Budget

Written by Jessica Ortaleza

One of the most important tools you’ll ever need is one that may cost you the most. It’s something that’ll differentiate you from the rest. It highlights your best features – better than your best selfie. It captures you under the right light. It makes you look professional and magnificent at the same time. IT is the one and only headshot photo. Whether it’s for an audition, a casting agency, or a promotional advertisement for a class you’re teaching, your headshot photo is the one. A great headshot is a powerful tool for making people remember you, and is something they can identify you by. But it doesn’t have to cost you $600-$800 for a professional and killer headshot, and I’ll spill the beans as to how.

As dancers, my partner and I have recently been teaching around post-secondary dance communities across Ontario. Aside from resumes and biographies, a headshot photo of the both of us was required for promotional purposes. I debated using a photo we had taken at the pumpkin patch, or perhaps our best selfie. We did want to be professional. but we also did not want to break bank (#studentlife).

The videographer/photographer we contacted was not only a friend of ours, but was a videographer/photographer that was looking to build her portfolio. She rented out a studio located in downtown Toronto called Inkast Studio. White walls with multiple backgrounds and lighting equipment provided, the total to rent out the studio for an 8-hour day came to about $230. Yet, my partner and I only paid $32 for multiple headshots and dance action photos. BUT HOW?!

To lessen the rental costs for all three of us, she contacted dancers who would be interested in joining. Who would say no to headshots that are less than $100? Split amongst the 7 of us, we each paid $32 for a chill and professional photo-taking day. We thanked our friend for her services by providing compensation. Case by case, compensation depends on the photographer’s experiences and rates.

Moral of the story: when on a budget, get creative! You don’t need to be in a professional studio to have a great headshot photo. We as artists are surrounded by many other artists looking to develop their craft as much as we seek to develop ours. So contact them! The connections we make with those around us can go a long way, and what’s rooted in these connections are the support that we empower – for them, for us, and for art.