FAQ

Q. Are you the best photographer in the world?
A. Yes. Well, no. But I'm in the top two million and climbing. You should hire me now while you can still afford me.

Q. How long does a headshot session take?
A. Sessions are generally up to one and a half hours long for business people and two and a half hours for actors and usually include up to three looks (4-5 looks for actors), but I build in some padding between sessions so that we can run over a little. It's amazing how quickly the time goes! Don't forget that we're not just shooting; we're going over the clothing you brought, reviewing photos, talking about what sort of impression you want your photos to make, etc. We also have to allow time for clothing changes, makeup touch-ups, changes to lighting, pouring wine, paying me, etc. If you'll be adding makeup and hair with my makeup artist to your session, count on being at the studio for an additional hour. My online booking system adds an extra hour automatically when you click on "Add makeup and hair".

Q. What's a "look"?
A. A "look" is a change of clothes, but it can also be a different hairstyle or a change to makeup, or even a different lighting setup -- essentially anything that creates a different look. 

Q. What's it gonna cost?
A. My rates for headshots are here. Some headshot photographers don't post their rates online. That means they cost more. If they refer to their price as an "investment" that means it's going to cost a lot more. When you see how much time and effort and passion I put into this, you're going to think I'm cheap and will probably want to tip me, or buy me an expensive bottle of scotch, or send me to the Bahamas for the weekend, or something. Those are just some ideas; don't feel limited by them.

Q. Do you have different packages?
A. Not exactly. I used to have a few different packages but I realized after awhile that practically everyone was choosing "Package B" which wasn't even the least expensive. So now all I've got is the one package (with the exception of my LinkedIn session which is like an express session if you're in a hurry and don't need a whole lot more than a professional headshot for LinkedIn or your company website). Instead what I did was add a menu of services. So rather than have a higher priced session with additional retouches, for instance, all sessions come with two retouches (four for actor sessions) and you can purchase additional retouches if you like. For business people, however, you really only need one retouch or maybe two. Same goes for makeup and hair -- I used to have a higher priced package that included that. Now it's an add-on. You pay the makeup artist directly and I don't take a cut. Life's better when things are simple. You can find my rates here.
(PRO TIP for actors: if the actor session is out of your budget, you can always book the "business" session. It's just shorter and comes with fewer looks and retouches, but is essentially the same thing otherwise. If you're an actor still in school, see my student discount below.)

Q. What's a LinkedIn session and how is it different?
A.
Think of it as a half session or an express session. Instead of 90 minutes, it's 45 minutes. Instead of two retouches, it's one light retouch. Instead of 3/4 body, half body, and head and shoulders shots with a variety of lighting setups and backgrounds and changes, it's head and shoulders only (all you want for LinkedIn, anyway), one clothing change, one setup, one background. It's also more affordable if you're on a tight budget.

Q. When do I pay and how do I pay?
A. I request that payment is made at the session by VISA, MasterCard, debit card, or personal cheque. I'm afraid I don't take cash or Amex. Or, if you like, you can pay before the session by Interac email transfer. IMPORTANT: I will not deliver proofs or retouches until your session is paid for in full. I really don't want to be a dick about this but I was just spending way too much time following up on unpaid accounts where people had the best intentions, but just forgot to take care of their invoice after the session.

Q. Can I have a makeup artist at my shoot?
A. Sure! And if you've got the budget, I definitely recommend it. I used to think that with retouching it didn't make that much of a difference. I was wrong and I'm man enough to admit it. It makes a huge difference and is worth every penny if you want to get the best results. A top professional makeup artist can be made available to do your makeup and hair and to stay during the session to act as a stylist and second set of eyes. See my rates page for the current rate for this. Alternatively, you can see if your local MAC store offers makeup services; many do. I'd offer to do your makeup, myself, but the court order is still in effect.

Q. Can I get full body shots?
A. In many instances, I'm going to try to talk you out of that. The simple reason is that for most uses, you really don't need full body and it just makes your face smaller in the image. Like, little teeny-weeny head kind of small. Most sessions will include head and shoulders shots, half body, and 3/4 body if you want them. If we're shooting in the studio and you really want full body there is an additional charge (see my rates page) because it takes more setup time and more editing afterward (e.g. to get rid of those damned footprints on the seamless paper). But really, I'm betting you don't actually need full body. If you're not convinced, please let me know before your session so I can set up for you. But you better have nice shoes.

Q. How often should I have my headshots re-done?
A. Ideally every week; I'd like to buy a sailboat. Seriously, though, when you think about what you pay for hair, makeup, meals out, booze, takeout coffee for a year, botox, clothing, shoes, dry cleaning for a year, winter tires -- not to mention other marketing costs -- it's really not that expensive having your headshots done (it really isn't!) and your photo should look like you currently look and it can actually make you money! I have honestly seen realtors who are using 15-20 year old photos. That's crazy! You think you look the same as you did back then but ...um... you don't. There, I said it. Actors should have their headshots done every time they change their look. If you show up to an audition not looking like your photo ... well, you're doomed. And if you're a realtor with a ten year old photo on your sign, you become the subject of mockery. I should know. I was a realtor who waited way too long between headshot sessions, himself, and people made fun of me. That's why I'm so bitter now.

Q. How can I prepare for my headshot session?
A. This is a good question and I'm glad you asked. Prior to your session I'll send you an email with a bunch of tips on this, but the short version is practice your expressions in the mirror or do some selfies. No, seriously. It's amazing how few of us (except for models, actors, and kids who've grown up with smartphones) actually know what expression we're truly making! Sometimes even actors who have trained for years not to look at a camera get a bit awkward when staring at a lens. I was guilty of this myself. Often in my head I thought I was smiling but it turned out I was only smirking. Now that I practice, I look unbelievably handsome in every photo!!! Well, perhaps not every photo. But practice. Really, it's worth it. And also get a good night's sleep and, for the love of God, don't come in hungover. Puffy eyes are hard to fix in post and your skin won't look its best if you've had a late night boozing. Drink plenty of water. Exercise the night before or the morning of, or do yoga or something. I've never done any of these things, myself, but I'm told it helps you look your best. I'll coach you till we find the best poses and expressions once we get started. But remember, this is a collaborative effort -- if you come to your session pumped and ready to have fun with it, I promise you we'll get some awesome shots.

Q. How much clothing should I bring? (read this because it's important)
A. Honestly, bring as much as you like! I'll help you carry it in from your car and I have a rolling rack for you to hang your outfits on, as well as a large, clean washroom for you to change in. Keep in mind that we won't be able to use all of it and generally speaking we won't have time to do more than three looks in a standard session (a couple more for actors), but I'd rather you bring too much than too little. We'll go through what you brought together when you arrive. And some outfits look great in real life but don't translate that well to still photos, so we'll do some test shots and eliminate as we go. But definitely bring at least one outfit you feel fabulous wearing! It shows. If you're a business person, don't hesitate to bring some nice casual clothing as well so that we can mix it up. A great pair of jeans with a nicely pressed top (or a cool tee and a jacket) can look amazing depending on the sort of work you do! I shouldn't need to say this, but wash or dry clean your outfits before the shoot and make sure they're nicely pressed where appropriate. Men should definitely ensure their shirts and suits are properly pressed. Nothing ruins a gentleman's business headshot more than rumply clothing (unless you're an actor and you're hoping to land the lead in a remake of Columbo). I have a clothes steamer at the studio but steaming your wrinkly outfits will cut into your time in front of the camera. Removing wrinkles from clothing in photoshop can sometimes be done but it adds to my time and so will cost extra - it is not included in basic retouching. And, depending on how bad it is, it may not be possible unless we send the images out to a high end professional retoucher. Not cheap. So, please, for your own sake no wrinkly clothing! Gentleman, now might be a good time to treat yourself to a new suit instead of showing up with that baggy BOGO deal you got at the outlet mall ten years ago. For outdoor location shoots it's obviously harder to do changes unless you're a woman and you know how to do that magic trick where you change your top without actually taking off any clothing. You know the trick I'm talking about? I've seen this many times and still don't completely understand it. For actors it's a little more complicated: the NY and London style of headshot is just to do a nice head and shoulders photo (sometimes tightly cropped and focusing on the eyes); the LA style of headshot is to do something that reflects the age range you portray and the sorts of roles for which you're ideally suited. And it's often half body rather than just head and shoulders. We'll do both styles so the clothing you bring should reflect this. If you want to be cast as a detective don't overdo it and bring a trenchcoat and fedora (I will definitely make fun of you), but maybe think about how your wardrobe might suggest a bit of an "edge".

Q. Maybe I should hold off till I lose some more weight. I've heard that the camera adds ten pounds.
A.
Do you know who told you that? Someone using the wrong lenses who also doesn't know how to pose and light people to make them look their best. And if you're using an old photo for your marketing simply because you were thinner when it was taken, then you definitely need new photos ... because that's not you anymore! And, honestly, we worry about this stuff way too much. I know this sounds very Polly-Anna but you look fantastic now and we want to capture that, not some crazy fantasy notion of how people should look based on 17 year old runway models we've seen in magazines. Tell you what -- come in for photos now and if you lose a bunch of weight within the next six months I'll give you an awesome deal on a reshoot. But then you have to tell me how you did it because I could seriously stand to lose twenty pounds myself. I think it has something to do with my beer and pizza consumption ... oh, and letting my gym membership expire, too, maybe. Sigh.

Q. Can I bring a couple of friends along?
A.
I gotta tell you, this generally isn't a great idea. Unless you're a professional model, having spectators at the shoot is pretty distracting for both of us. Seriously, it rarely works well in part because we all start goofing around rather than concentrating on getting the best shots. I'd rather you and I collaborate to get you great images, than have you looking over my shoulder throughout the session to see your friend's reaction to your poses and expressions. Remember, you're paying to do this in order to further your career. So if you absolutely have to bring a friend, limit it to one and make sure it's someone you completely trust not to be distracting. One exception to this is for location shoots where if you bring a friend I'll enlist that person to hold a reflector. This can actually be quite helpful -- it makes for better shots for you and because the friend is standing behind a big bounce reflector off to the side, you're not as distracted. Another exception, obviously, is with team photoshoots. If you're bringing your work team in for headshots I'll get the rest of the team to hang out on the couch in my office or around the kitchen island while I shoot each one of you, undistracted, in the studio. For minors, it's just the opposite: I insist on a parent or guardian accompanying you.

Q. My friend and I both need new headshots but we're on a really tight budget. Can we share a session?
A. The best thing to do in this case is for each of you to book a LinkedIn headshot session.  See my rates page but you'll save a ton of dough. Keep in mind that LinkedIn sessions are half the time and allow for fewer looks. They're also restricted to one background and you receive one retouch instead of two. See details above. If you're on a budget because you're an acting student or a student in the real estate courses at OREA, I already offer a discount anyway. See below.

Q. Do you offer any discounts to students?
A. Sure do! I offer a discount off current headshot prices to students enrolled in recognized acting programs and I offer the same discount to students enrolled in the real estate courses at OREA (Phases 1, 2, or 3). Proof of enrollment may be required. I'm no dummy. See my Rates page. I also have a secret Starving Artist rate which isn't published anywhere and no one knows about it. Oh snap! I just blabbed. You probably don't qualify anyway.

Q. For location sessions, do you suggest the location or do I?
A. We can do it any way you like. I've got outdoor locations in the city that I like to use but if you have a great location idea, by all means suggest it. I don't have any cool old mansions or lofts that I have access to, so if you do, count me in! Keep in mind that all private property locations require permission in advance and many charge a permit fee. I get at least one call a month about the possibility of doing a shoot at the Distillery District. The Distillery charges a permit fee for photoshoots, as does U. of T. (pricing here), as does pretty well any other popular private location. In fact, the City of Toronto actually requires paid permits for even the simplest of commercial shoots in city parks. I think that's a bit dumb, but there you go. So, that doesn't mean we can't shoot at these places, but you will be responsible for arranging and buying the permit and I'll require a copy of the permit before our shoot. Otherwise ... long faces all around. The other thing about location shoots is that I often need an assistant, not just to get equipment to and from the car or to guard equipment from thieves while we move from place to place, but to hold a reflector or a light stand in the wind. It takes very little wind to blow over a light with an umbrella or softbox. There is an additional cost if I need to bring an assistant and the decision will be mine based on location and what equipment I'll be bringing. But I'll totally consider using a friend of yours to save you money! Let's talk about it when you book. Don't get me wrong, all of this is doable -- it just takes a little more planning and may require a somewhat bigger budget.

Q. Do you have a fax number?
A. Sure I do Grandpa!! You can find it on my MySpace page.

Q. I see that you offer white wine for afternoon studio sessions. If I don't have any will my session cost less?
A. No. We still have to pay for the wine I'm going to drink and I'm starting to think I'll need more working with you.

Q. How long till I get my photos? (read this because it's very important)
A. Your proofs will be uploaded to a private web gallery within 2-3 business days. I'll try to get them out to you faster but if I'm fully booked at the time there's a good chance I won't and I don't want you to be disappointed. Once you've received the link to your private gallery, take your time making selections for retouching but unless otherwise arranged with me, you have two months from the time the proofs are delivered to get your retouch selections to me without incurring additional costs. I know this sounds like a dick move but, seriously, how long does it take to make selections? I've had people come back TWO YEARS after they got their proofs! That's whacky and it messes me up big time. By the way, retouches take me an hour or more to do for each image and I always have a backlog. Always. So don't expect your retouches the day after you send me your selections because, as much as I'd love to accommodate you, it's just not physically possible. The promised turnaround time for retouches is ten business days but I'll do my very best to get them to you faster than that (usually within five business days). If you need them right away there is a rush service (for a fee -- see my rates page) which will get them back to you within 24 hours, guaranteed. There are times of the year when that's not possible, though, and I'll let you know before agreeing to a rush. So, please please please make sure to book your headshot session with all this in mind.

Q. What's included in a retouch?
A. Retouching includes but isn't limited to blemish removal, line and pore reduction, dark circle removal, shine reduction, flyaway hair removal, teeth whitening/brightening (done sensibly), eye touchup (removal of redness, etc.), removal of hair and specks (and some minor stains) from clothing, even very subtle slimming of arms or necks, etc, in some cases. I'll also take lumps and bumps out of your clothing on shoulders and arms, within reason, and I can boof out hair in many cases (if your hair is kind of flat on the day of the shoot) and slim arms or give men bigger biceps! Oh the wonders of Photoshop! But the idea is to make you look as you would on your very best day! It's easy to do fake retouching -- it's a lot more work doing great retouching that doesn't look like retouching. Standard retouching does NOT include compositing (e.g. swapping body parts from one image to another) or changing backgrounds, or providing transparent backgrounds, nor does it include extensive photoshopping of clothing (e.g. colour changes, wrinkle removal, etc.), colouring hair roots, etc. This sort of work will be quoted upon request or I can suggest a professional retoucher or graphic designer for more complicated digital artistry. Let me know at the time of your shoot what sorts of things you'd like me to concentrate on for your retouches. We all have things that bother us. For me it's my ears (I don't have proper ear flaps!! The shame!!!), but there's no fixing them and I have to live with it. FOR ACTORS retouching should be much more subtle than for, say, realtors. We'll talk about what you want done and how far you want to go at the time of your shoot.

Q. Can you work with my graphic designer? I'm doing some complicated branding.
A. I work with graphic designers all the time and I'm happy to do that for you! In fact, rather than you act as middleman, I'd prefer it if you had your graphic designer contact me directly so that he or she can tell me exactly what sort of file (file type, size, dimensions, colour space, etc.) is required from me. This speeds things up, makes less work for you, and it ensures that your designer gets the right image first time. I don't, however, like to be asked for raw files so that someone else who I don't know can do the retouching. I've tried this and on at least one occasion my photo of someone (with my name in the embedded exif information) came out looking like an anime character. Embarrassing! Oy. So, um, 'no' to that.

Q. How long do you keep my photos?
A. My policy is to keep original raw images for ONE YEAR from the date of the shoot and proofs are kept in your private web gallery for one year. This means that if you wish to, you can come back later to view your proofs and request additional retouches. Just keep your original proofs email from me with the login information. See pricing for additional retouches here.  (This is not a guarantee, however. Sometimes terrible things happen and files get lost through hardware failure or some other calamity. So for the love of God, save any high-res photos I send you!)

Q. Do you do family photos? How about weddings?
A. Nope. I really just do headshots and individual portraits as well as business team photos. I also do some commercial and editorial work. I don't do kids (except for child actors accompanied by a guardian), babies, dogs, families, events, or weddings. I will do divorces, but no one has asked yet. 

For engagement and wedding photography, get in touch with my good friend and awesome lifestyle photographer, Leann Weston. Lee didn't do my wedding photos and that's why I'm divorced now. And for pet photography, you have to talk to my pal, Jacqui Jensen-Roy. She took my Boston terrier's photos and they were amazing! Mabel always looks away when I point my camera at her but Jacqui is some kind of spooky dog-whisperer. That makes her sound weird -- she's not; she's lovely.

Q. I see you've done a lot of realtors' headshots. Do you also do interior and exterior listing photographs for the real estate industry?
A. Nope. Not my thang. Get in touch with Thea Menagh if you're in the Toronto area. She's been doing it for years and is simply fantastic at it! And she's a truly wonderful person -- you'll love her.

Q. Do I have to give you a deposit?
A. Nope. It's too much accounting work for me. So, I'm trusting you to show up and pay at the session. You're gonna show up, right?

Q. Do you charge a cancellation fee?
A. Nope, again. I know that everyone is busy now and that life throws curves at all of us when we're not expecting it, so I'd feel a bit crappy charging a cancellation fee. And surprisingly few people do cancel on me! The only thing I would ask is that even if you just think you might have to cancel, let me know as soon as you can so that I can line up someone else to potentially take your spot. Deal? If you cancel on me twice though ... I'm going to be soooooo angry!

Q. Do I have to sign a contract with you?
A.
I suppose I really should get contracts signed but that just seems like a lot of work. So, no.

Q. What if after I've received my proofs it turns out I don't like the photos? What happens then?
A.
 You're gonna love this: if you don't like your photos we'll do it again. Free re-shoot. On me. I want you to be happy and think well of me (my therapist says I spend too much time trying to make people like me ... which saddens me because it makes me think my therapist doesn't really like me enough). But there's a catch (isn't there always?): you have to notify me of this within two weeks of receiving your proofs and your free re-shoot session has to take place within two months. It's just not feasible for me to have you come back in a year and say you didn't like your photos. Once you've sent me your selections for retouching, the offer no longer applies because I don't want to invest time and effort retouching photos you don't like. That's fair, isn't it? Also, you have to have at least tried to pay attention to my tips; for instance, I suggest above that you bring as much clothing as you like so it's not really fair to show up to your session wearing the only outfit you brought and then say that you're unhappy with your wardrobe choice. I'd actually much rather have you cancel (without charge) if for some reason you're unable to come prepared for the shoot. Common sense stuff, really. But other than that, I'm pretty easygoing about this. It's only happened a couple of times and in both cases I totally got it -- something personal had come up before the shoot, in one instance, and the subject showed up, but just wasn't into it. The other time the client had hair and makeup done and while she praised the work she said it just wasn't "her" so to speak. I get that and I'm really looking forward to re-shooting this person because I want her to have photos that she feels great about.

Q. Why are relationships so hard?
A. I have my theories.

Q. Aren't you a little expensive? I saw a guy on Kijiji who will do it for less.
A. I'm not going to argue with you. You can absolutely find someone who will do it cheaper. In fact, you can have your cousin, Larry, do your headshots for free. You can also find lots of headshot photographers in Toronto who are more expensive than me. I'm actually right in the middle when it comes to pricing ... but I do my very best to give you an experience and a result that's much more valuable than my fee would suggest. When you think that as a business person or professional you're probably going to use these photos for about five years, and as an actor probably for two years, and as a realtor you'll try to get away with using them for twenty years, is it really worth cheaping out to save fifty to a hundred bucks on what is essentially your "brand" and your "logo" for the next few years? That's a rhetorical question, by the way. The answer is "no"; you do not want to do this. We live in a world of picture laden social media and great images (often of your competitors!). Your face is your brand, your logo, and possibly your best chance to get noticed. I promise you the best headshots you've ever had, or I'll offer you a free re-shoot (see details above). And I also try to make the experience a really enjoyable one for you! Most people leave their session saying just how much fun they had ...and how little fun they'd had at previous headshot sessions. See some testimonials here.

Q. Do you have a mail list with life-changing tips and exciting offers and discounts and stuff?
A. Why, yes, I do! Sign up down below. Don't worry about getting too many emails from me. If anything you'll wonder why I don't write more often and if I don't love you anymore. But when I do write, trust me, it'll be mind-blowing. Bigly.

Q. Is this FAQ really just a poorly concealed attempt to use a lot of keywords (like headshot, portrait, actor, realtor, photoshoot, Toronto, best prices!, etc.)  in order to improve your miserable Google ranking?
A. No!! Maybe. No. No, it really isn't. I mean, just look at my Google ranking! It's terrible! It's a wonder you found me at all for your actor or business headshots in Toronto at the best prices where you'll have a lot of fun having your headshots done. In Toronto. :)

Q. Was it really necessary for me to read this whole damn thing?
A.
You read the whole thing?! Ha! You kill me. You're over-thinking it, man. Just book something. :)

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