If you’re like me, you easily get caught up in the moment of making a picture and you may forget some simple things. Fortunately for me, I recently had photographer Carlos Zamora assisting me on a big headshot shoot and he was on top of those small things for me and made sure we didn’t skip any important things. He was the perfect assistant and he saved me at least five hours of work retouching pictures — and he did it with a roll of packing tape.

Little things x lots of people

We had to make 70 headshots and we had fewer than five minutes per person, so I was in the fast-paced mode. You know how it is in that mode: You easily forget little things. But Carlos made sure to remind me to check every person’s shoulders for lint.

Each of these dots is a spot where retouching is required. Look at all of them covering lint from a jacket — and this guy was relatively clean.

If you forget to check one person’s jacket for lint and hairs, it’s not a big deal and you can fix it in fewer than five minutes in photoshop. But spending five minutes on 70 people is more than five hours’ work, and suddenly you’re not making as much money on that shoot.

Tape + assistant < retouching

A lint roller has a sticky surface that you can roll across clothing and pick up all the lint, then peel off the sticky section to reveal a fresh one. However, packing tape is a lot cheaper. Just make a loop of tape around your open fingers and pat or roll across the jacket. If packing tape is too tacky for you, you could spring for gaffer’s tape instead. In either instance, ask permission to lint roll your subject’s jacket.


Using a $2 roll of tape will allow you to spend five hours doing other shoots and make a whole lot of money. I’m glad I had Carlos along — he more than earned his fee by reminding me to use a lint brush.

Portrait Tips come out each week, and you can see them all right here.