How We Get Great Headshots in 2.4 Minutes

I call it “instant intimacy”.  My mom calls it “the friendly dog approach.”


Often we are hired to go to corporate offices, nationwide to photograph the entire team for updated headshots.  And, when it’s a large office, that means shooting about 25 people an hour — or one every 2 minutes 40 seconds.

The challenge is, people need to look relaxed in their headshot.  They need to be polished and professional — but at the same time warm and friendly.  A great headshot conveys personality, energy, vivaciousness, and competence.

All in 2.4 minutes.

Corporate headshot photography Nationwide
Everyone has something that is great about them

And that’s where the friendly dog approach kicks in.  It starts with sticking out my hand and saying, “Hi, I’m Mike.”  It continues with asking tons of questions and getting to know the person.  It’s cracking jokes, and laughing, and dancing to the music that’s playing in the background.  It’s being you, and being warm, and kind, and saying how great the person looks in front of you.

Everyone has something they hate about themselves — and everyone has qualities that are great.  It may be their smile, their laugh, their eyes, the way the hold their head.  It doesn’t matter what you focus on to rain positivity down on the participant — what matters is you  rain positivity.  That everything is “NICE!”

So what happens when the participant declares, “I hate having my photo taken and am not photogenic”?

That’s when it’s time to take an extra few seconds and explain the Cher Approach to headshots.  An expansion of Friendly Dog, this is uniquely my own creation.

Here’s what I say:

“Cher does not get out of bed in the morning and think, ‘Oh, I feel fat.  Look how old I look.’  No!  Cher wakes up, jumps out of bed and says, ‘I’m HERE B*TCH.  Take my picture.’  You MUST channel Cher.  Look at the camera and think, ‘Damned I look good.  Take my picture.’  If you do that, your photo will be great.”

National corporate headshot photography
In Office team and corporate headshots nationwide

And, do you know what?  It is.  Maybe it’s because anyone can act like a diva for a few minutes.  Or maybe it’s because it’s so stupid they can’t help but relax and go with it.  Or maybe it’s because we all want to be Cher, I don’t know.  But it works.

Does the Cher speech work with the CEO of a major company?  Probably not.  But it’s not the CEO, or the CIO, or any of the C-suite execs that need the Cher speech.  Generally, they don’t shy from the camera.  My experience is the C-suite jumps in front of the camera.  The Cher speech is for those people used to working behind the scenes.  Those team members who are happy having a head shot from 35 years ago.

“Wonderful team, great to work with and they delivered terrific results. Received compliments from multiple executives about working with them.” — Linda Schultz, Fay Servicing

From the time the participant walks in the door (or enters the photo area) to the time they leave, I have found raining positivity down on gets results.  You know what else works?  Music.  Any music, but preferably something I can dance to.  I’m not sure who the music helps:  the participant relax or me stay jamming, I just know it is as essential as my lighting, camera and lenses.

Whether headshots are happening within the walls of a corporate office, or on an event floor, the over-the-top, friendly dog, instant intimacy, I’m Cher, B*itch approach works.  And I point to the thousands of headshots we’ve done in the past few months as proof.