Headshots on Location for Large Groups |  General Info and Frequently Asked Questions

Thursday, April 06, 2017

If you are the person responsible for organizing the headshots at your office,  pat yourself on the back and have a stiff drink on me.  I know it is not easy to herd all those cats,  and lots of people grumble when you want to take their photos.  

No worries, I’m here to help! Please take a minute to read the info below,  and let me know any questions you have. 

The Portable Studio

I frequently will take my studio on the road and set up at my client’s place of business. There I can photograph anywhere from 10 to over a hundred people in a day. It’s a great solution for most businesses as someone can step out of their office for just a few minutes for their headshot, and then get right back to checking their Facebook …. errr, I mean doing their monthly reports. 

These shoots tend to fall into two broad categories: groups of 20 or fewer, and groups of more than 20. 

The Intimate Group | 20 or Fewer Subjects

With this number of people, there’s enough time for a longer session with each person and I can get the best results. There is time to try different background and clothing options, tweak the lighting to suit each individual, and most importantly to help the subject get comfortable in front of the camera. 

The Teeming Masses | More Than 20 Subjects

When we get into the big numbers, there isn’t time for a lot of tweaking. We need to stick to one background option and not spend too much time experimenting with the lighting or clothing, though I can still get great headshots this way. We can also carve out extra time for your VIPs to make sure they get special attention.  

Space Requirements

Ideally, I like to have a space that is about 15 by 15 feet  with a power outlet nearby, though I can squeeze into something tighter if necessary.  (Recently I was crammed into a restaurant space with a fake palm tree hovering just out of my camera frame and a steaming tray of quesadillas just behind me, which was nice).  The space should also be somewhat private so the people being photographed don’t feel like they are onstage. 

The lighting in the room usually doesn’t matter, nor does the background as I bring my own lighting and backgrounds with me. One exception to this would be if there is a window with direct sunlight blasting in. That could make things difficult. 

Very often I work in conference rooms or empty offices.  If you have any doubts, please shoot some pictures of your space and email them to me at studio@charmcityheadshots.com. 


I find that having a rough schedule, especially for larger groups, is helpful.  Things will almost always go off-track a bit, but it’s best not to start with complete chaos. For smaller groups (under 20), 15-20 minutes per person usually works well. For larger groups, more like 5-10 minutes.  

As mentioned above, you may also want to schedule in some extra time for any VIPs so I can give them extra attention. 

How To Prepare

Please ask your colleagues to read over the tips below the day before the headshot shoot.  To get the best results, it really helps to be prepared. Contrary to popular belief,  I can’t just push a button in Photoshop and give someone a shave, haircut and new suit! 


Wear solid or simple patterns, dark to mid-toned colors, avoiding bright whites and bold patterns. In your headshot we want the attention on your face, not on your clothing. Splashes of color (like a red shirt under a dark blazer) are good. Ideally, bring a few options-- different shirts, jackets, ties, jewelry, scarves.
Blouses for ladies should not too low cut or they could end up being cropped entirely out of the frame (and it will look like you are doing a naked headshot shoot!) We can also deal with this issue by using clips to hike the blouse up a bit closer to your neck.
Makeup and Grooming
I don't usually recommend makeup for men. It can help, but unless you're an actor or TV personality, the makeup is more likely to make you uncomfortable and isn't worth the trouble. Men should pay extra attention to grooming their facial hair. I can't give you a clean shave with Photoshop!
For women, keep the makeup simple and flat, but a bit heavier than usual is OK as the camera takes some off.


Hair and Makeup Person

If you want to work with a professional makeup artist, please let me know and I'm happy to recommend some of my local favorites.  You should double check price and details with the MUA, but it's usually around $125 per person or $600 for a day on location. 
Hair and makeup can make a big different in the quality of the photos, but it also slows things down a lot and is only suitable for smaller group (under 20).


What if Someone Can’t Make It? 

Inevitably with large groups, despite all your careful planning, someone will cancel at the last minute. When this happens, I’ll often schedule a makeup session at my studio where I can replicate the background from your location shoot. 



For groups of 20 or less, I typically charge a flat fee that includes some retouching for each subject. For larger groups, especially where the final tally is uncertain, I tend to charge a flat fee for my time, and then bill later per retouched image. 

There are so many variables in these large group shoots that I tend to quote each project individually. Just to ballpark it for you, rates start around $1100 for a four hour shoot window with 10 people. 

Image Delivery and Retouching

After the shoot, I will put all the best photos in a password-protected online gallery that you can share with your team. This usually takes about two days. 

The next step is to gather the selects for retouching. I prefer to deal with one person at your company who will gather everyone’s retouch request and deliver me a list once everyone has decided.  It usually just takes me another day or two to do all the retouching and send you a link with the final images. 

Posted by Dennis on 04/06 at 01:36 PM