What to Expect on a Personal Branding Shoot

Download a pdf of this document here»

What is it?

The Cinematic Headshot is a landscape-wide portrait taken outdoors with a background out of focus, similar to the effect seen in cinematography. It emphasizes natural lighting (sometimes aided by flash) and seeks to create a dramatic stunning effect. Cinematic Headshots can be used both by actors and by entrepreneurs needing Personal Branding.

A Personal Branding Shoot is a photo session that tries to capture the unique, natural, and individual radiance of a client for use in starting or expanding a business, reaching new customers, and personifying a singular marketing message.

DarkFire Photography™specializes in Personal Branding / Cinematic Headshots.

I welcome and pay particular attention to people of color and darker complexions, as the lighting needs to be different from standard caucasian portraiture. I try to avoid “flooding the face” with light, as this gives a “washed out” look which loses the unique beauty of darker skin tones. I look for lighting and shadows which look natural and attractive and produce dramatic flavor.

Booking a Personal Branding Photoshoot

Contact David Anderson, via text, email ( darkfirephotography@gmail.com ), or phone, to schedule a Personal Branding Photoshoot. We’ll first set up a time to talk about your objectives and needs for the shoot. A non-refundable fee of 50% of the overall fee will be required at time of booking (although the fee can apply to a rescheduled session). Please note that inclement weather can sometimes force a postponement of a Photographic session.

Forms and permissions

A “Model Release Form” must be signed and witnessed and returned to DarkFire Photography 48 hours prior to the Photo Session or the session will be rescheduled. DarkFire Photography will provide to you a signed “Photographer’s Release” for you upon completion of the post-processing when your photos will be made available to you via Google Drive (cloud storage).

Location and wardrobe

A typical photo session can last a couple of hours at an inspiring outdoor location. You’ll bring along three to five different “looks” (changes of clothes). Most shots are taken from the waist up (typically shoulders up) although depending on the particular needs of a client, I can also take full body shots.

Your looks should be simple consisting of clothes which you enjoy wearing, but for the most part, should eschew complicated patterns (they’ll distract from the focus on the portrait). Colors should be ones which complement or offset your complexion and skin tones: black, navy blue, maroon, teal, buttery yellow, blue, white, brick red, and vibrant browns. I like discussing with the client the choice of colors to bring.

You’ll also need to bring outerwear or blankets to fit over your wardrobe while waiting for photo setups and adjustments, even in the summertime as it can be windy and cold at some locations. Conversely, some days can be hot, so you might need a hand fan to keep you cool while waiting. Bring water and any snacks you might require.

Makeup & Grooming


Men should have a recent haircut. Facial hair should be fresh-shaved, fresh-buzzed, or fresh-trimmed. Pay particular attention to nose, ears, neck, back, and shoulder hair as it does show up in a photo and draws attention to itself. I prefer as little image retouching as possible. Bring portable clippers along with a hand mirror.

Makeup is not necessary for men but their skin should be clean, lotioned or oiled, and not “ashy.” Please don’t use foundation or powder.


Women should engage a professional makeup artist. Makeup should not be flashy, just basic and attractive. Avoid using makeup with UV sun block as it reflects light in ways inimical to a photoshoot. Foundation should be tasteful and not heavy or caked. Less is more.

Hair might need special consideration for outdoor breezy situations. Hair should have been done recently at a professional saloon.


Because I am seeking a natural inner expression which lights up the face, I don’t usually want the client model to rigidly “pose” for the camera. We’ll be engaged in a dialog during the shoot. I will be arranging the body somewhat as I seek to find your best look; sometimes I’ll ask you to look into the lens, sometimes somewhere else. But I’ll want you to be thinking and feeling about the topics we’ll be discussing. Let me worry about poses and looks! I want you to be relaxed and comfortable, feeling and expressing.

Preliminary shots

During the session, we’ll be viewing the preliminary shots taken. Although there will be further post-production processing, this will be your opportunity to observe and comment on your overall feelings about the shoot and will be the basis of your acceptance of the shoot. Final payment will be due upon this acceptance at the end of the shoot. There are no do-overs but you can schedule a new shoot (at the returning client rate) if you wish something different.


During post-production, I will go through every shot and first weed out the obviously bad shots (out-of-focus, eyes closed, shaky camera, wrong composition, under/over exposed, etc). I will then divide the photos into two groups: GREAT and good.

I’ll concentrate on your GREAT shots first, adjust various color and light balances, cropping, etc and end up with a set of 5 to 10 shots that I think are your best. If I feel touch-ups are required, I’ll do touch-up for up to 5 shots. In the cloud storage for your project, I’ll save for you three different formats for the deliverables of the GREAT shots: 100% jpg, TIFF, and 80% scaled jpg (typically 2500 pixel width) which are appropriate respectively for online web-site, printing, and social media usage.

I’ll also do post-production work on your good shots and save these for you as 80% scaled jpg files appropriate for social media usage. If there’s any of these you feel strongly about, I can provide you with 100% jpg and/or TIFF formats.

This is something that most photographers don’t do: give you access to all of the images from the shoot. With that, I do ask for some basic restraint on your part: please don’t go posting the entire photo shoot all over Facebook or Instagram. Try to just focus on 10 or 15 of your favorites, please. Remember most of these are not retouched. All of the photographs represent my artistic work, so I ask you to be respectful of the usage.

DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES do any of the following: retouch the images or make changes -- either yourself or a friend or anyone else; DO NOT PUT wacky Instagram-style filters on your images. Please remember that although you are free to use your images for as long as you wish, the copyright still belongs to me. I reserve the right to have you take any of my images down from the internet if they reflect poorly on me because of changes which you or anyone else may have done.

Please make sure that you attribute DarkFire Photography for any photo posted online or in print and that you include a link to my website: www.darkfirephotography.com .


Especially for actors or models, you will be needing to print some of your headshots. The printer is just as important as the photographer. Printing on your own inkjet printer or at Kinkos will not give you the kind of quality that is reflected in my work. Factor in the cost of quality printing into your budget for headshots. I can recommend two printers who provide quality headshot printing at affordable rates: ColorWorks in NY and Argentum Photo Lab in LA. Both work nationwide and are used to working with cinematic headshot portraiture for actors, models, and professionals.


55 W. 39th St. Suite 706

New York, NY, 10018



Argentum Photo Lab

817 N. Hollywood Way

Burbank, CA 91505