Rick Bern vs. The Mall

Pretty sure 2013 is the official Year of The Executive Headshot as I’ve never had so many requests in my life!  CEO’s, CFO’s, COO’s, models, actors, the unemployed, the underemployed, the entrepreneur…it’s been insane at the studio.  But today was different.  The shoot went smoothly and ended around 11:30.  I edited and delivered her high resolution jpegs via Dropbox at 1:30.  Everything was done – another happy client – I could move on to the next thing on my long list of things to do today.

Then it happened.  I got the email at 2:45 and I was not prepared.  It read:

Thank you SO much!!!  I LOVE the pics!!!  I am amazed at your skills, even with a challenging subject having a bad hair day… LOL.  So I have a quick favor to ask.  Right after our session this morning I had another headshot lined up at the mall as a fallback.  I’m attaching the best photo from that shoot.  Could you please redo it the same way you did for the one you took of me?  That way I would have two versions to use!  Thank you!!!

After my wife resuscitated me I took a private moment to reflect.

I gathered myself and thought: Exactly WHO goes to the mall right from my studio?  Doesn’t she know “WHO I AM”?!!!

Followed directly by my neurotic dialogue:

What if the other image is better and she was just being polite?  I bet she’s trying to make a point that the mall is a fraction of the cost and it was even better!  Perhaps my time has come?  Maybe I really do suck?  Maybe I should start a petting zoo in my backyard.  I have a dog, two cute kids – it’s a start.  I could dress them up as a camel and some sheep and start a whole new career.

OK so I had my moment and was done with it.  Then I took another long deep breath and opened the attachment with the photos.  “All will be fine”, I kept repeating to myself, ALL WILL BE FINE.

The image I delivered is on the left, the photo the mall delivered is on the right.  Both shots were taken within an hour of one other and to my eye it almost looks like two different people.  Yes they are both in high resolution, and yes both are the exact product each of us gave to our client today.  Please tell me you see a difference.

Contrary to popular belief, I have nothing against mall photography and absolutely nothing against this particular shooter – whomever he/she is.  My motivation was less to expose “bad” photography (of which I’ve had my share) and more about the client not knowing the difference.  I reacted to the homogenization of it all – that a headshot from this or that photographer is all the same.  A headshot is a headshot is a headshot.  Or is it?


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