Why do I let the client choose their own headshot during the shoot?

With modern technology, some things have become far more accessible than they used to. Like showing results of a photo shoot on the shoot itself. Mindblowing!

When I shoot portraits, I usually shoot tethered. For those that don’t know what that is yet, it’s connecting the camera to the laptop with a cable. Import the photos into your computer as you make them.

It’s an easy way to see results on a bigger screen instantly. Making it easier to adapt your way of working to improve the results or visualize better what the result will be.

On portrait shoots, usually, people like to see themselves. So I show them the results, and I offer those instant results for several reasons.

First of all, I want to see them, and it is impossible (and unfriendly) to keep your client from watching with you.

I like to see the results to see what can be improved. Maybe the light needs to be angled more. Or I should use their other side as the dominant side in the photo. Many questions can get answered with a look on your laptop screen.

But of course, your client will chime in with their opinion too. Rarely is the statement about the photography or lighting; it’s about themselves.

“I don’t like my smile.”

“I look so fat.”


“That’s as good as it’s going to get.”

For me, these are cues to connect with my clients by denying their claims (truthfully) or telling them a white lie. I don’t see that, but we could try some more photos.

The denying is obviously to have them feel better about themselves. People are too hard on themselves. And that double chin is usually not even half as bad as they claim.

If they are correct, there is usually some trick to minimize their “bad” side: Putting the chin forward, turning the body a bit more, or using the ‘moneyyyyyy’ technique for a better smile.

No one makes excellent results standing in front of the camera for 2 minutes.

So why would you expect it from your client?

I usually do 2 or 3 of those sessions per person and take around ten photos or more each time.

During the revisions in between, I have them tell me no, yes, or hell yes to each photo. In Lightroom, I can then give ratings to their taste. This makes it easier for me by having the selection process completely done when I pack up on the shoot—saving me quite some time at home.

So, in short, the reason I have the client select their photos during the photo session:

  • I can see the results myself and see how to improve upon them.
  • The client can see the results and make wardrobe and posing decisions to feel more comfortable themselves.
  • The client can select the photos they want instantly, making the selection process easier for me.
  • The client selecting the photo also counters any possible argument afterwards about them not being satisfied.
  • People like the instant result and reassurance they are doing good.

Do you shoot tethered? And do you let the client watch too?

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