A contact sheet showing several actor's headshots

Avoiding Choice Overload

Selecting Professional Headshots: Overcoming Choice Overload.

The hardest part of a headshot photo shoot is sorting through the photos to select the best ones; this is a real-world example of the paradox of choice. Selecting the best images out of 100 good shots is next to impossible. Narrowing your options to a reasonable number of great photos makes it easy to choose the best ones.

 I usually shoot between 100 and 300 frames of a customer during a business portrait session. This gives my customers 50-100 good photos to choose from. That’s still a lot of photographs.

“Learning to choose is hard. Learning to choose well is harder. And learning to choose well in a world of unlimited possibilities is harder still, perhaps too hard.”

– Barry Schwartz in his book The Paradox of Choice

I have a proven method that makes it easy to narrow my customer’s choices from 100+ outstanding photos to the 12 or 15 most fantastic shots from a headshot session in about 15 minutes. 

It’s straightforward to identify a photo you don’t like. Most people become confused if you start by trying to select the best photos right away, so I begin the selection process by doing a couple of elimination rounds. We keep doing this until we narrow our choices down to the final 12 or 15 shots, and then I let my clients decide which ones they want.

As I explain in my Headshot Tips, your photographer is the best person to help you select your headshots because they don’t allow their emotions or biases to get in the way of making sound professional recommendations. They should also be able to explain why any particular photograph is more substantial or carries a more powerful impact than another.


Edited 12-06-2022

Avoiding Choice Overload.

One of my most important jobs as a headshot photographer is to remove the stresses involved in a photo shoot. Part of that is to make it easy to select the best photographs for your particular needs.

I usually take 15 or 20 minutes to work with my customers at the end of their headshot session to help them select their photos. Below is a list of the 5 steps I take to simplify my customer’s choices and help them make good decisions about which are the right photos for them before they leave the studio.


Step-by-Step with help from a professional.

  • Before I show the photos to anyone, I remove any funny faces, blinks, or bloopers.
  • I will show my customer a quick slide show of the candidate photos. This gives us an idea of what we have to work with. (Professional software does this at the press of a button.)
  • The next step is an elimination round with my customer. I’ll bring six or eight photos in the same outfit up on the screen, and the customer will decide which ones they don’t like.
  • We’ll go through this process a few times for each outfit until we eliminate all but the 12 best of the best photos from the shoot.
  • Once we get to this stage, my job becomes one of helping my customers maintain a clear vision of their objectives and helping them understand how well their photos suit their needs.

Dumping 100 or more photographs on anyone is not nice, especially if you don’t have the expertise needed to do the job with professional detachment. Editing photos and offering my customer only the best choices is one of my duties as a professional photographer. It’s also one of my greatest strengths.


Your headshot photographer should be there to offer their guidance through this most challenging part of a photo shoot by offering an objective, professional critique of any photograph to help you decide which ones will help you move ahead in your career.


Dean Birinyi-

I make the time to help my clients select their headshots. 

Due to information overload, selecting photos is the hardest part of any photo shoot. I’ve been doing it for 35 years and am very good at it. 

You’re in control.
I’ll offer my unbiased opinion and professional interpretation of any photo if you want.

Working together, we can narrow your choices from 50+/- great headshots to the 8-12 absolute best in about 15-20 minutes.

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