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  • Writer's pictureDean Birinyi

A Simple Three-Step Plan for Success: First Preparation

Updated: Sep 3, 2021

I have a simple three-step plan that I use every time I shoot, whether the job is company headshots for 300 employees or a single executive in my studio. The plan simply stated is preparation, execution, and conclusion.

This post is about preparing for your company headshots photoshoot on location

Preparation is Pre Production:

Have you ever heard the phrase “We’ll fix it in post!”? I prefer to fix it in pre by asking the questions and investing the time to set the stage for success. It’s usually faster, more cost-effective, and we get the best results.

I always want to speak with my customers over the phone or zoom to learn about what you want from me and to learn what I need to do to help you. Your reputation within your company is on the line. If your headshot photographer is not prepared properly, it's a big hassle for everyone and a poor pay-off from the effort. Your co-workers may talk about the incompetence of the photographer, but they’re probably going to be thinking about the person who hired them.

I always ask:

  1. If my customers want me to bring my Hair and Makeup Artist?

  2. How large is the space I’ll be working in?

  3. Is there a restroom nearby?

  4. Is there any degree of privacy?

Hair and Makeup Artist:

In two minutes, she can quickly and easily smooth someone's hair, straighten their shirt and tie, or knock down the shine on their nose. The same work in retouching (post-production) could require additional time that wasn’t in the budget.

Photogrpaher adjusting the collar of a man before taking his company headshots
Adjusting the collar of a startup founder before his headshots


I need a medium to a large conference room. I guarantee the same high-quality results from a location shoot as I produce here in my Palo Alto studio. I bring all the tools I need to create spectacular headshots, lights, backgrounds, computers, clothes brushes, etc.

In San Francisco, I once worked in a glorified closet my customer called a break room and got great photos. The tight space added ten minutes to each session to get people in and out safely. It was a good thing we only had six people to photograph.

Photographer coaching a man on how to be photographed well in his company headshots.
Dean Birinyi, explaining how to look good for the camera


If you think about it, having a restroom nearby is a great convenience for your co-workers and speeds the process for us.

No one really wants to change their shirt in the middle of the room. And HR would probably give anyone who suggested it the side-eye.


Almost everyone feels self-conscious about headshots. Your executives' co-workers would probably appreciate not being “on display” while being photographed.

I started my career doing baby pictures in K-Mart. Having a line of 30 patience-challenged mothers trying to keep their kids from messing up their hair and clothes inured me to any form of pressure while working. And since I was literally on display in the middle of the stores, I grew accustomed to having an audience (Ok, I dig it.)

Photographer coaching a man on expression for his company headshots.
The finer points of posture and pose. The power of subtlety.

So that's the basic run-down of the parts of the preparation phase of my plan that you see. There's a lot more that goes on behind the scenes: cleaning lenses, packing gear, making sure we have water and food, etc. I try not to bother my customers with minutiae.

Check back in a few days to see a new post about the next step in my simple three-step plan: the production phase. I’ve got to get back to my real work.

A grerat man's company headshot taken on location by Dean Birinyi, owner of Silicon Valley Headshots.
Looking good.


Dean Birinyi, founder, and owner of Silicon Valley Headshots is an award-winning photographer. He specializes in showcasing professionals as confident, approachable individuals ready for the next opportunity.

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