Learn the situations where you can write off photography on your tax return
Professional headshots are an important part of your career, whether you’re searching for a job, starting out or promoting yourself as an established freelancer, or putting together marketing materials for your business. But when are headshots a business expense? Being able to deduct expenses on your taxes is a great perk for some situations, and an absolute must for others.
Is my headshot for LinkedIn tax deductible if I am searching for a new
Not anymore. In December of 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs
Act was signed into law. This new tax law completely eliminated the
Unreimbursed Employee Business Expenses deduction for 2018 through 2025. This
deduction was included as part of the Miscellaneous Itemized Deductions section
of the 1040, and job search related costs were recorded on this schedule.
However, there are a handful of states that still include this break, including
Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and New York.
If my employer asks for a headshot but does not pay for it, can I
deduct my headshot on my income tax return?
Just like the above scenario, no. If a taxpayer is an employee the Unreimbursed
Employee Business Expense section of the 1040 has been eliminated and is only
included on certain states income tax returns.
Is a headshot or any marketing photos I have taken of me tax deductible
if I am a self-employed freelancer and do not have an LLC or Corporation?
Yes! If a tax payer is self-employed and not an LLC, LLP, Partnership or Corporation, the individual would complete a Schedule C Form-Profit or Loss from Business (Sole Proprietorship). On this form, the taxpayer would be able to include headshots (photographers fees and duplication costs) and marketing photos on the “Other Expenses” section of the Schedule C of the 1040 form.
Is a makeup artist or a haircut tax deductible for my headshot session?
Yes, if the taxpayer is self-employed and not an employee of a company. Expenses directly related to the headshot session, such as makeup and a haircut are deductible as a business expense. If clothing is purchased or rented for a special shoot, a tax payer can also deduct those “props” as a business expense.
I own a business– can my business deduct the cost of a photographer’s services?
Yes, if a tax payer is a partner of a partnership or a shareholder/owner of a corporation and the photographer’s services are used by the business for marketing purposes, headshots (photographer’s fees and duplication costs) can be deducted as a business expense.
“I see that I can add a hair and makeup artist to my session… I’m not sure. Should I?” This is a question we hear all the time. And our answer is always, “it’s up to you.” Everyone is different, so it’s up to you to decide what would help you look your most photogenic. For some of us that means a makeup artist, for others, retouching, for others none of those, and for still others (or most of us, really), both a makeup artist and retouching.
Should I add a makeup artist to my photo session?
Since deciding whether or not to add a hair and makeup artist to your session can be tough, here’s a list of situations where someone can benefit from having a hair and makeup artist at their session:
You’re a woman who barely wears makeup or doesn’t wear any makeup at all.
This one might sound counterintuitive at first, but you read it right. The reason we recommend a makeup artist for women who don’t wear makeup is because our makeup artists specialize in natural-looking makeup for headshots. They listen to how you normally apply your makeup (or how you don’t apply any at all) and create a look that naturally enhances your features without making the makeup itself noticeable. For example, someone looking at your headshot should find themselves thinking, “her eyes look nice,” not, “that’s some great mascara.”
You’re a man or woman who can never get his or her hair to sit the way you want it to for photos.
Having a hair and makeup artist present at your photo session means having a professional to get your hair in exactly the place it should be, and to make sure it stays where it’s intended for each pose.
You tend to have red, blotchy, uneven skin, or rosacea.
A professional makeup artist will be able to use color correcting and matching techniques to apply concealors, correctors, and foundation for a more even-looking skin tone. It’s the most natural way to get your best skin possible for the photos.
You’ve never liked the way your makeup has looked in past photos.
Sometimes the makeup we wear on a regular, daily basis isn’t best formulated for photography. Makeup artists use brands that photograph best under both flash and continuous lighting, and know how to apply it in ways that make sure it shows exactly as they intend.
You would like the extra insurance for a great photo.
We’ve all been traumatized by photos in the past where we looked… well, not our best. Having a professional stylist at your photo session ensures the best possible chances of a great photo. They will use makeup to make sure your skin looks as smooth and even as possible and your best features at the center of attention. Hot tools and styling products will also be on hand to re-curl any fallen curls, smooth frizz from humidity or add volume in dry weather.
If you have any questions about whether or not adding a makeup artist to your headshot session is right for you, feel free to contact us.
Like most of us, I believe myself to be the queen of crappy ID card photos. I could never take a decent photo for a driver’s license, ID card, or passport to save my life.
When I was 16 and got my first driver’s license photo I spent 10 minutes fixing my hair in front of the DMV mirror to get it just right. I smiled into the mirror and froze my facial muscles into that perfect smile as I slowly inched to the chair, carefully lowering myself into the seat without creating any breezes that could move my hair. I looked into the camera with my perfectly practiced smile. Suddenly the woman operating the camera stepped away from it. “Hang on, I need to grab something,” she said, and disappeared. I held my perfect smile as long as I could, but she didn’t seem to be coming back any time soon so I relaxed and looked around. I noticed my shoelace was untied. With no sign of the camera lady showing up anytime soon I bent over and tied my shoe. Three seconds into shoe tying and I hear a “hey- look up” come from the camera. *FLASH* And there it was. My first driver’s license photo: my head at the bottom of the frame, half bent over, with a dopey look of shock on my face. Since I don’t have that license anymore, here’s an approximate recreation:
My second attempt about 10 years later wasn’t much better. There was a long line so I again spent some time in front of the DMV mirror, but this time practicing a half squint in one eye. My right eye is just slightly bigger than my left, which you don’t really notice in person but in a photo it can be pretty obvious. So I practiced closing my right eye juuuuuuuust a little bit so they were the same size. I even tested myself by looking away from the mirror, half squinted my big eye, then turned to the mirror to make sure I did it right. When they called my name for my photo I sat in the chair, smiled at the camera, lightly squinted my right eye and then *FLASH* There it was. A photo of me winking. Again, here’s a recreation:
For my third driver’s license photo I said “the hell with it,” and didn’t prepare at all: I just sat down and smiled. It was the best ID photo I’d ever taken. The curse was broken.
I recently changed my last name after getting married and again had to get a new driver’s license photo. Upon great personal reflection, my past experiences at the DMV had taught me two important truths:
People operating the camera at the DMV don’t give a rat’s behind what you look like and will snap a photo as soon as your butt is planted in that seat and your face is front and center.
Any special tricks you attempt to fool the DMV camera of doom are futile. It is immune to smizing.
So I got a new foolproof strategy for this last time around. Are you ready? Here it is:
Don’t look at the camera until you’re ready.
I realized that the DMV folks won’t take the photo until you’re looking up at the camera and your eyes are open, because those are pretty much the only two requirements for a driver’s license photo. So I sat down with my head bent over and fixed my hair until I was sure it looked okay and wasn’t sticking up all over the place. Then I smiled naturally and as friendly as I could make it look, still facing my lap, and then finally looked up at the camera when I was ready.
So that’s my super secret trick: when you sit in the chair, keep your head down or turned to the side while getting your hair in place (use a hand mirror if you’d like) and don’t look at the camera and smile until you’re ready.
And while we’re at it, here are some other general tips:
Avoid shimmery makeup—it will reflect the light of the flash and wash our your face.
If you have longer hair, try to place it evenly on both shoulders so it frames your face.
Don’t wear stark white or black, or anything with logos or patterns that are really busy.
If you’re having the picture taken in the winter, make sure you remove your coat, scarf, and hat.
Smile! So it doesn’t look like a mugshot. This might be the photo the news uses when you save drowning puppies from a lake so make sure you look friendly and not like a convict.
If you can, go to the DMV during a time of the day when they’re less busy, or even a DMV in a smaller town so you can have more time to prepare and don’t feel too rushed.
Remember to be nice to the people working at the DMV. They have a reputation for being crotchety, so if you’re extra nice to them they might return the favor and let you take a little extra time to refresh your lipstick before you photo.
And for tips on how to take a great headshot for your professional headshot with Organic Headshots, head here!
It’s January. A new year. And time to make those infamous New Year’s resolutions. For some people, getting an updated headshot is actually your resolution: to log into LinkedIn and finally replace that icon that’s just an outline of a head with your actual head, or to finally have something better and more professional than your wedding photo cropped reeeeaaaaaalllly tightly so no one will see the veil on your head.
But if your New Year’s resolution isn’t to get a new headshot, you can still use a headshot as a tool to help you reach your goals. Here are a few ways a new headshot can help you kick some resolution butt:
Get fit: Is this year’s resolution to lose those few extra pounds? Schedule your headshot session for several months in advance to give yourself a goal to work toward. Several years ago we got a call from a man who wanted to lose 50 pounds before updating his headshot, so he booked a session with us 6 months in advance. He even pre-paid for the session so he would stick to his goal of losing the weight before his picture day. And it worked! 6 months and 1 week later he was 50 pounds slimmer and getting awesome new headshots. (The extra week was because he had to reschedule to give himself enough time to buy a new suit since the old one didn’t fit!)
Get a new job: Been thinking about starting a job search but the idea is daunting? Take baby steps and start with a new professional headshot to update your LinkedIn profile. Once you’ve got your new profile photo, you can update your work experience, goals, and other details on LinkedIn while you’re logged in.
Quit smoking: Smoking adds lines and wrinkles, sucks moisture out of the skin, yellows teeth and darkens circles under the eyes. It’s a well-known fact that quitting smoking improves your appearance—check out this woman’s week-by-week account of how her appearance changed after quitting smoking. If you need that extra push to quit smoking, schedule your headshot in advance and use it as your deadline to be smoke free and camera ready.
Get a new look: Have you been thinking about changing your look by getting a new hairstyle or a new wardrobe? Schedule a headshot session to make the process more fun. A celebratory photo session to introduce the new you to the world!
Picking out clothing for your headshot can fun and even easy, but how do you pick out your beard? I get a lot of requests for advice on glasses and beards- two things that can be transient on someone’s face. Sometimes you wear glasses, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you’ve got some facial hair going on, and sometimes you don’t. If you look completely different with or without glasses or facial hair, then how do you choose how to look for your headshot?
Most people who wear their glasses at least 50% of the time I’ll split their session into half with and half without glasses. Then they can have the option to choose from the two different looks depending on what they’re using it for. Same goes for facial hair. Lots of people will sport a beard, goatee, or mustache for a few weeks, and then shave it off for a few weeks. If people are going to see your headshot before meeting you in person (such as on your website, LinkedIn, etc.), then you’ll want them to be able to recognize you right away from the first impression they got of you from your headshot.
Keep track of how often you wear your glasses or have a beard, and then decide which look in your headshot best matches how you usually look. Maybe even ask some people you know or work with how often they see you with glasses or a beard and see what the general consensus is.
Or you can do what my recent client did the other week: we took some headshots with and without glasses, and with and without a goatee. And it’s good that we did- he looks like a different person in two of the photo where we took one with no glasses and a goatee, and the other with glasses and no goatee. So he can use each headshot depending on what look he’s sporting at the moment.
And of course, just for fun, here’s a chart of facial hair looks to choose from if you need some inspiration…