Headshots and what to look for…

It’s amazing, we take headshot photographs all the time, it’s one of our major types of photography.  However, when we look around, it’s amazing how many people have headshots with major photographic flaws… now this may not stuff up how good you look, how approachable or intellectual, it may not determine that initial thought process that determines what type of person you are to the viewer… BUT, if you have a chance of improving that chance of making a great first impression, shouldn’t you take it?!

So… check this out… here’s a few things to look for in your own photographs that you use as your avatar in social media sites.

  1. Make sure you photograph exists… not having one is a missed opportunity to connect and some people won’t connect with a blank space.
  2. Have the photograph be of you, not someone associated with you… such as your child or partner.
  3. Be the only person in the photograph!  If you are in a shot with a friend, who is going to know which one is you?!
  4. If possible, have a professional headshot from someone who knows what they are doing.  Failing that, ask a professional what they think of your photograph.
  5. Don’t use a photograph of your pet.  It’s nice that you love your pet but it isn’t going to make someone looking for your services come to you, especially if your opposition has a good photograph of themselves.

Here are a few examples of headshots we have photographed… and after that, a couple of tips of things you should look for in a photographer when wanting your headshots done professionally.

There are potentially four areas that most headshot photographers worth their huge fees will do for you…

  1. They will use flattering lighting that fits within your brand.  This includes photographing from the narrow side of light!
  2. They will get a natural look from you whether serious and contemplative or happy and smiling.
  3. They will have the eye closest to the camera absolutely pin sharp.
  4. They won’t have a distracting background.
  5. They will (in the case of an outside shot) review the background to create clean headspace where possible… and where it isn’t possible, any straight lines in the background will be in a position that doesn’t affect the image.

Now I realise that some of these need image explanations so here goes…

  This is number 1.  Flattering lighting, in this case, a biiiiig softbox close to the subject… it smoothes out any wrinkles and creates a lovely soft edge to the shadows.  This image is also narrow lit… that basically means that the side of the face nearest to the camera is in shadow… it sculpts the face and gives a really lovely catchlight in the eye when this is done properly.  The opposing shot would be the second one…  Broad lit with a harsh light at a point you don’t want it… I had to search high and low to find something that sort of shows this point… the second shot is the closest I have to poor lighting.  but you can see from that shot that the lighting is flatter on the side turned towards us… it makes his face look fatter as his cheek bleeds into his neck and the shadow side though darker is less prominent.

 Number 2… The major difference between a forced smile and a natural smile.  It’s all about communication!  I speak to my clients continuously, find out what makes them interested, thoughtful, happy, involved etc.  The brief of what the shoot is for determines how I work with a client and that’s all combined into how a client responds to me.  In this profession, we have to read a subject quickly, connect and interact.

  3… It’s subtle this time… but the first photograph, whilst striking is a little off… if you look closely, you will see the eye nearest us isn’t as sharp as the one further away so our gaze is drawn through the shot and out the other side… it feels a little uncomfortable.  However the photograph of the gent shows us where the focus needs to be… and the closest eye is sharper.

Now for number 4… It took going back into a test archive shot to find something to show you here, I take care that this doesn’t happen but you can see how very confused the first image looks… and it’s purely because of this weird light behind her head and the very sharp etching on the glass… so after a cut out and added blur (ideally a re-shoot) the image is useable.  I haven’t shot an image with a confusing background for many many years and hence having to dig this out.  If you see stuff like the first image on a photographers website, smile and move along… lol.

  The last item, number 5… everything looks lovely, happy smile, nice pose but that background (on the full sized image) is very distracting… in the uncropped version, there is a fairly evident black pole cutting straight through her neck that just looks awful and does detract from the whole image.  The second one though, a clean but busy background that her head stands out from.  It’s seeing this type of thing that makes so much difference.

There are other do’s and don’ts but this post is long enough lol… look out for noses that have been lit from behind when someone tries to do sandwich lighting but does it badly!!!  Your nose should never be highlighted be a light from behind…

Oh ok.. a quick example… ‘cos I know I have a test shot with the wrong lighting somewhere…

So there you have it… I hope all this helps and that when we see YOU online in LinkedIn, on Facebook or through some other social media platform that your headshot is going to look amazing.  If you want a chat about it all… well just book in for a consultation 🙂

Cheers,
Paul

 

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