How to Break into Headshot Photography: Breathe Your Passion with Vanessa Joy


Hi this is Vanessa Joy here with AdoramaTV and we are in Lake Tahoe. I am here with Moshe Busman and we’re going to talk about how Moshe decided to leave wedding photography and pursue fashion portraits and headshots. Why don’t you tell me first, why did you decide to change paths in the photography world? When my son was born six years ago I just decided that it’s time to chase my kids, instead of chasing brides and grooms. I was at the beach doing 10, well, more like 40-45 weddings a year. Then 10 destination weddings and I really felt like it’s time to slow down and spend more time with the family. Ok, so how did you start that because, as a wedding photographer, we spent so much time trying to build a clientele and having to start all over, that’s daunting. How did you tackle that? Well, as busy as I was working 330 days a year, I started a headshot business almost three years ago. Any free time I had, as I was slowing down with weddings, I started doing head shots. I have a studio so that was a good place to start it and slowly grew to working the headshots, fashion and portraits every day of the week. How different is the marketing aspect in how you have to market, who you have to network with for headshots and studio work? As opposed to how you did it for weddings. Well, when you do headshots, most of my clients come to me by word-of-mouth, I even consider social media word-of-mouth. Digital word-of-mouth! Someone will come in and say, “Hey, you photographed my friend’s wedding,” “You photographed my friend’s headshot, I need one too.” It’s a lot shorter engagement so the marketing is different, you not to talk too much. Just show your work, name the price. It’s a quick engagement. People don’t think as much as they do before they book a wedding photographer. So I always say, you know, they book you yesterday, you shoot today, you deliver tomorrow and you’re done. Versus a year relationship with a bride and groom. That must really affect how you live your life now. So what kind of lifestyle changes were you able to make now, not having to devote so much time to each individual client? I said it with a lot of passion for weddings but I live a very much stress free life. That’s nice. Even though, ironically, you are here in Lake Tahoe to shoot a wedding. But it’s a little bit different because it’s one you got to pick, it’s friend of yours and it’s a more fun. You get to be more selective about that. What would be something that you would tell a fellow wedding photographer that’s looking to branch out? What are some of the first steps that they can make to, maybe, their market or build their portfolio, anything? Give us some help. Well, be bold, master your craft and technique. Work on human skills. You got to have those people skills, it’s all about that at the end of the day. If everybody had the same caliber of work and the same kind of gear, it would break down to human skills and personality. Get a good marketing plan. We have a workshop called ‘Headshot Bootcamp’ and that’s what we do; we teach people how to run a business, how to start a business, how to create that marketing plan and the whole plan to start a business and continue doing it. Whether your transitioning from weddings, like I did, or just starting fresh. It’s all about marketing, in my opinion, aside from personal skills and personality it’s about marketing. Ok, talk to me lastly about gear. Again, as wedding photographers we made such an investment in our gear. How much more do we have to invest to become a studio photographer? Some people already have the gear, some people could use new gear. You need about two or three studio strobes, couple of softboxes, maybe a reflector. I agree with you, I love ProPhoto for example, and I use ProPhoto but, could I do it with speedlights? You could do it with speedlights, it’s just probably not the most ideal. For the simple fact that, most of the headsets I do are in a studio and I do need that modeling light to see what I’m doing there. A little more control over strobes versus speedlight. But a light is a light. You can do it with almost anything, it’s just about the comfort and the quality of light. That’s why we choose ProPhoto. Ok and finally, talk to me about the money. The dollars and cents at the end of the day. Are you now making more money shooting headshots, being in the studio, having a better life, having a shorter engagement with your clients, than you were with weddings? Yes, that’s the best part! The money is better, it’s quicker and the cash flow is a lot better. There a whole chart that I run with everybody that comes to our workshop. Even as a high-end wedding photographer, my average contract used to be $10,000-15,000. It breaks down to an hourly rate of $50-$150/hour. As a headshot photographer, you make close to $400 or $500/hour and sometimes more. That’s awesome, alright, I love it! Make sure you guys hit that subscribe button on the bottom, so you don’t miss a thing here with Breathe Your Passion on AdoramaTV and I will see you next time.

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10 thoughts on “How to Break into Headshot Photography: Breathe Your Passion with Vanessa Joy

  1. There's a big gap between 10k and 15k to call that an average. In fact 15k is 50% more than 10k. It really dont matter to me but if youre gonna talk numbers be more concrete and not just throw the numbers out there like snowflakes. Great work though. Moshe is a great photographer!

  2. well, nice information. could you next time balance mic sensitivity better. every time she speak I have to lower speakers volume.

  3. He's a superb photographer but there's no way 40-45 weddings 10 destination weddings is going to bring you less money than headshots in a year.

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