So this is a brief dive into headshots. A quick two minute read about why you want an awesome headshot, the process of getting a headshot and how to get the most out of your session.
Like them or hate them head shots are great for a number of reasons. They are typically used for social media from Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, Google+ to more personal items such as business cards and company identification cards as well as e-mail signatures.
A good headshot lets you know the person you’re dealing with. Making interactions more so with a person and less with a name in an e-mail. Another benefit of having a headshot done is the fact that you can use this photo across many different platforms making it easier for people to find you. The more connected you are across platforms the better the chance is that you may talk to these people in real life. "Hey I saw you on LinkedIn and I like what you wrote on your blog there". Whenever I change my headshot I always, always, regardless of how minor the change is, change it across all platforms. Think of yourself like McDonalds, how easy would it be to find McDonalds if the logo looked different in every town. I like to consider that i'm my own brand and I always want to be represented well.
There are a few standards when it comes to headshots. We can adjust the picture slightly, blemish removal or maybe soften a wrinkle or two but facial reconstruction gets into weird territory. That means elongating a neck or removing all wrinkles or bringing someones ears to a point aren’t going to happen. The blemishes can be anything from a pimple to scratches and scrapes, marginal teeth whitening also makes your photo pop a bit more. If you're sensitive about something that will be in the photo and want some extra work done then all you ever have to do is ask, usually it's something very easy for the photographer to take care of. A headshot is an honest representation of that person, no crown of flowers instagram filters. A headshot should be serious, represent you and not look like a glamor shot from an 90's teen magazine. A headshot is typically done with a plain paper roll backdrop or somewhat neutral muslin (fancy word for cloth backdrop), although you can do yours outside for a warmer, more friendly natured image. The clothes are professional and should represent who you are, if you're a landscaper then something more casual, in finance... maybe a suit would be better. Bring a few options if you're indecisive, different ties, coats or tops. Headshots are typically chest up, once we start involving legs and arms more then we are in portrait country.
What makes a good headshot is more to do with you than it is me. My side of this process is a slightly meticulous process of setting up the backdrop stand and lights and make sure that the lighting looks amazing, otherwise it might as well be a passport photo. It's a lot of work for a few photos but highly worth it. I’m going to talk to you a bit and pose you so that the lighting looks great and you have good posture. I want something that you're happy with and will use. I can't stress though how the photo ends up really depends on you. I can’t contort your face or know that you only like photos of you smiling ear to ear or you don’t like smiling at all in a photo. I always suggest that my clients practice a few of their smiles and serious faces in a mirror so that they can be prepared for then it’s time for their photos to be taken.
The goal of a head shot for me is to end up with three solid photos. I say three because it gives you options for different platforms where you may use the headshots. The first photo will be smiling with teeth, this shows that you’re a happy person. The second is smiling without teeth to also show that you’re a happy person or easy to deal with. The third photo is a serious face or focused look, this shows that you’re a professional or focused professional.
A quick story to wrap things up. I recently bought a house and my realtor was wonderful. She taxied me to many many different properties and dealt with late night phone calls to baby me through the process of buying a house. One of the houses I was interested in had a brilliant brochure. This pamphlet showed photos of the house and various facts and information about the house. On the backside was a photo of the relator, a women in her early forties with a tiny bit about her. I made an offer on the house and eventually ran into their realtor, she looked like she was in her late sixties nothing like her photo. I'm not trying to be judgmental but if I was using a business card with my high school senior portrait I hope that might raise some red flags. The point is stay current. :)