Nearly a decade ago, I dove headfirst into the world of headshot photography. And let me tell you, what I thought would be a simple gig turned out to be an incredible voyage of self-discovery and eye-opening revelations.

Here, I reveal some of these realizations that have not only transformed my clients’ experiences but have also shaped my own approach to headshot photography. These are some of the unexpected lessons I learned.


Most people have insecurities about things nobody else notices except for them. This leads to most people being overly critical of themselves. Most of the work done in the studio is less about photography and more about me helping clients to get a more objective view of themselves.

Bad Decisions

Helping people choose their headshots is as important a part of the process as actually shooting them. Curating through a lot of headshots can be paralyzing. People tend to fixate on vanity over presence as well as solicit advice from friends/family who see them personally; not professionally.

Actor Headshots Kevin Philadelphia Man by Jason Ranalli

Age sweet spot
There’s an age sweet spot that people want to fall into from a perception standpoint. Most 19-25-year-olds want to “age up” to about 30 so they look more seasoned and credible. However, most people 50 and up want to be perceived as being as vibrant and lively as the 30-45-year age range.

Conversation is the Secret Sauce

Conversation is the key to great headshots. Why? When we talk to people in person, we tend to make real facial expressions but nearly all of us shut down when a camera is shoved in our face. Come in ready to talk about nearly anything and we’ll get a great headshot.

It’s Never About Just the Headshot

In the simplest sense, yes I shoot and create headshots for people. However, this headshot many times turns out to be indicative of something much more for them. I recently had a client who had focused so much on others through her own work and in her own family that she rarely was able to take a pause and admire all she has done – until she was forced to. She was being nominated for an award which required her to submit a headshot. She wasn’t comfortable getting a headshot because meant accepting this silly award while there was still so much work to be done. We talked less about headshots and more about why she should take at least a little time to appreciate this honor for herself. For others, it might mean having to reluctantly enter back into the job market after not having done so in a long time and the headshot is more than just a simple update for them.Entrepreneur headshots Ronnie Philadelphia Woman by Jason Ranalli

Females need this

Most of my clients are women – nearly 2/3 to be more precise. It became clear there was a MASSIVE need in the headshot space to show female executives as poised, strong, and competent yet still approachable. This was something I brought to my own market that really wasn’t done before.

Awkwardness Kills

Most photographers were making headshots a completely awkward experience. Between tacky posing, making the images too artsy, poor communication, and lack of collaboration, many clients had prior experiences that left them feeling like they had little control over their headshots. I have always prioritized clear communication and predictable results – nobody likes to have their time wasted.

Confidence is More Than A Look

Actress Headshots Ashley Philadelphia Woman by Jason Ranalli

While going through the process of “just getting some headshots”, I found that once people saw their own transformation in the studio through body language, quality lighting, proper makeup, etc. they actually FELT more confident and positive on the whole – not just looking that way in their headshot.
Overall, I discovered that the process of creating headshots for high-performing individuals here in Philadelphia went far deeper than simply creating cool images of people from the chest up. Each headshot is an element of inspiration and a professional affirmation for my clients and a lesson about human nature for me

If you would like to know more about how my headshot process can help you, please contact me.

Ready to take control of your headshots?

Jason Ranalli Philadelphia Pennsylvania Acting Corporate Business Headshots Photography

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