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.
If any makeup artist is tipped, it’s most commonly the wedding makeup artist. Some estimates are that about 80-90% of wedding vendors in general (including makeup artists and hair stylists) expect a tip. This is because a wedding is a luxury event, and all the vendors involved are supplying a customized, luxury service. For a wedding, a makeup artist usually travels to your location, provides a consultation and communicates back and forth on ideas for the look you’d like before the event, and even purchases supplies and makeup specifically for your application.
Counter makeup artists: NO
Don’t freak out if you just realized you’ve never tipped the makeup artist at Sephora or Nordstrom for the time they spent teaching you how to contour. It’s generally considered not necessary to tip a counter makeup artist, and some stores even prohibit it. These makeup artists are actually salespeople with makeup skills and sometimes training, but their end goal at the counter is to sell you a product. Never go to a makeup counter for a makeup application for a photo shoot. These makeup artists are unlikely to have the skill or inclination to apply custom makeup for your needs, and the products are not likely to be specially made for photography. And again, their main objective is to test products on your face in order to sell them to you, which is great for when you’re sampling products you’d like to buy for yourself. But don’t think you’re cheating the system by having a salesperson at a makeup counter do your makeup for free for your photoshoot. Every time someone has come to our studio after doing this, they always end up unhappy with their look. We’ve had to start stocking makeup removing cloths in the studio so clients can remove their counter-applied makeup before their session.
Makeup artists for headshots/portraiture/commercial shoots: MAYBE
If tipping a wedding makeup artist was a reasonably solid “yes,” and tipping a counter makeup artist was a pretty solid “no,” then tipping a makeup artist for your headshot or portrait session is a definite “maybe.” For hair salons, a rule of thumb some people subscribe to is that you tip the stylists who work for the salon, but not the salon owner. Some people extend this idea to makeup artists: tip the makeup artists who are booked through a salon or agency because they do not keep the whole fee, but do not tip freelance artists because they keep all of their fee. But this isn’t a reliable measure since freelance artists are self-employed small business owners who have expenses an employee would not, such as insurance, marketing costs, travel costs, licensing, and materials. Some makeup artists can spend anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 a year on the makeup and brushes in their kit and the sterile disposable items they go through. Since there is no industry standard “yes” or “no” for tipping with these kinds of makeup artists, then both freelance and agency artists usually have their fee structured in a way that they’re not relying on a tip to complete their fee, so a tip isn’t necessary. But some people are more comfortable tipping anyone in the beauty/service industry, and if you’re one of these people, then feel free to tip your makeup artist. They won’t turn it down and they’ll definitely be appreciative of it, while not expecting it. A good rule of thumb on tipping makeup artists in this category is: “never expected, always appreciated.”
If you don’t want to tip your makeup artist at a headshot session, here are some kind things you can do for them that they would definitely appreciate even more than a tip:
Come ready for them. Follow their instructions to prepare for your session, which usually involves coming with a clean, makeup-free face.
Communicate with them. Be honest about what you want and don’t want before they start the application, then trust them while they apply makeup, then give them honest feedback afterward so they can make changes before you get in front of the camera. If you’re happy with the makeup, speak up and tell them you like it. If you’re unhappy with it, speak up as well, so they have a chance to adjust what they did to your liking.
Don’t hold a mirror to watch what they do. Again, you must trust them to listen during the consultation and use their skills to apply makeup, without babysitting what they’re doing. A mirror in your hand also gets in their way and slows down the process. If you have any questions, feel free to ask, and the makeup artist will answer.
Give them a positive review. If the makeup artist has a listing on Google, Yelp, or Facebook, give them a positive review, or offer to write a testimonial for their website. Follow them on Instagram if they have an account. More follows on social media means good marketing for them.
Refer the makeup artist to your friends and colleagues, so they can continue their awesome work.
If you’re ready to book a headshot session in our Chicago studio with a makeup artist, do that here!
Everyone at Organic Headshots has been at this for years: our photographers have photographed thousands of people, and our makeup artists have had just as many folks in their makeup chairs. And if there’s one thing nearly all our clients have in common, it’s that they’re nervous. Very few people walk into a photo studio excited to have their photo taken, and most of our clients see their visit as a necessary evil to get a photo for the bio page of their website, their LinkedIn profile photo, sales and marketing materials for their business, or, “because my boss made me come here to take a photo for the company website BUT I HATE HAVING MY PHOTO TAKEN SO LET’S MAKE THIS QUICK PLEASE.”
We’ve had countless informal discussions at the studio about how to put our clients at ease during such an anxiety-producing situation as having your photo taken, and we’ve developed systems and solutions for calming people down during photo sessions. We create a quiet, calming environment in the photo studio with snacks, drinks, and even an aromatherapy diffuser to freshen the air. We adjust the temperature if someone is too cool or too warm. We talk at length about what the photos are for and explain what we’re doing and how we’re going to get great photos for each person’s purpose. We show clients their photos as we’re taking them to allow for adjustments and feedback. We tell jokes. We laugh at the absurdity of striving for that perfect pose for that perfect photo like we’re all Kardashians on the red carpet. We listen to our clients’ stories of jobs lost, jobs found, career changes, life changes, new relationships, new babies, new puppies, and how well we can or can’t follow the storylines of Game of Thrones. Oh, and usually there’s an unofficial therapy dog lounging in a sunbeam or rolled over for bellyrubs, which has offered many a welcome distraction from the giant lens on the camera.
But last week we decided to take it a step further and formalize our training. We met with our friend David Klow, founder of Skylight Counseling Center and author of the new book, You Are Not Crazy: Letters From Your Therapist, in his office to talk about how we can help our clients enjoy the process of having their taken more; or at least stress less about it. David is a licensed therapist, Clinical Lecturer at the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University, an Adjunct Faculty member at Adler University, and runs professional training and workshops when he’s not managing his growing clinical staff at the counseling center.
David led us through an amazingly insightful discussion as we workshopped what our clients go through when having their photo taken, and we worked together to create new strategies and procedures to build our strengths in relieving photo-induced anxiety. Most importantly, we learned that we are the primary instrument taking someone’s photo, not the camera and the lighting and the posing. Those are merely tools we employ. The real photo is produced through the rapport we create with our subjects, the trust they have in us, and the authority we convey as professionals in our craft.
We are in the job of making people look good. Of capturing their personality in an image they need to further their careers, promote their work, demonstrate their capabilities, and project their individuality. We take that job very seriously.
So we invite you to test our strength. If you HATE having your photo taken and get nervous in front of a camera, PLEASE come to our studio. We love nervous people. Believe it or not, WE hate having our photos taken too– every single one of us working at Organic Headshots is behind the lens because we loathe being in front of it. So we get it. We understand your pain, and we want to help you feel better about getting a headshot. Have us come to your office to photograph your staff, or book an appointment for a session in our studio where you can munch on some snacks, listen to some soothing music, and rub a dog’s belly while we take your photo.
There’s nothing that keeps a person away from a photo studio better than a past photo that didn’t turn out so well. Such was the case with our friend, Jon. His partner was a past client of ours for his (dare we say awesome) professional headshots, and every month like clockwork they would have some iteration of this conversation:
“You need a headshot!”
“I have a headshot.”
“Where is it? You don’t have it on LinkedIn or anywhere!”
“Well I don’t like it.”
He finally dragged him to our studio to take an updated headshot and Jon showed us the photo he had taken in the past:
“I don’t like this photo for two main reasons,” he said, “it was taken from below, which makes me look like a towering, tall giant, and I feel like it looks like I have about a thousand extra chins. It’s just not flattering.”
One of our favorite things to do is to beat old headshots with better ones. And the best way to do that is to identify what it is about the old photos that aren’t up to snuff, and then do the opposite. For Jon, that meant two things: 1. Don’t take the photo from below (easy), and 2. Make sure you can see his jawline in the photo (also easy). Then we did what we always do: coach our subject into several different poses, smiles, and angles so there are plenty of options to choose from.
Here’s the result:
We crafted the lighting to form some strategic shadows that did a better job of hugging the features of his face to form some shape, without making it look like he’s hiding behind any shadows. We also posed him into more relaxed poses, to get rid of that “welcome to the DMV” straight-forward effect of the old photo, which helped bring out more of his personality.
If you’ve got an old headshot you don’t like, don’t let it scare you into running away from all professional photographers! Book a headshot session with a photographer who has a strong portfolio of natural-looking headshots you like, and bring your crummy photo to the session. Talk to the photographer about what you don’t like about it, what you’re looking for in a new headshot, and work together to take new photos you can be proud of.
If you’ve been following Organic Headshots for a while now you know that about once a year we offer a discount on in-studio session fees. It’s time!
To celebrate our 12th year in business, you get 20% off session fees for in-studio headshot sessions. That’s right, 12 YEARS! Organic Headshots has been taking awesome headshots for awesome people in business and entertainment for a whole 12 years now, and we’ve been loving every minute of it.
Book an in-studio headshot session between now and April 30th, 2017, and receive 20% off the session fee. The session doesn’t have to take place in that time period, but has to be booked and in our system by April 30th, 2017 for the discount, and you must mention the discount at your session (it won’t be applied automatically). Discount cannot be applied to add-on services such as retouching or a makeup artist.
Thank you for 12 awesome years!
We can’t believe it ourselves, so we’ve got to say it again: 12 YEARS. Thank you so much to all of our clients over the years for continuing to choose Organic Headshots for their professional headshots, corporate portraits, and marketing/press photographs. It’s been a real honor to take everyone’s photos and we feel so privileged to have met so many amazing people in our work. And we’re so excited to kick off year 13 with our growing team. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!