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.
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...
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 🙂
We have a lot of people ask us about this, what cameras do you use, what's best... best lens... best make...
In reality, the best camera is the one you have with you at the time... the best lens is the one that's on your camera at that moment, the best make is absolutely irrelevant these days, almost any camera you buy for the money you can afford will get you great images within your limits.
If you give me your phone camera, I will likely take a better photograph with it than you would with my professional DSLR... the tools matter when you reach a certain level for sure, you don't see the best photographers with the lowest value kit for a reason, but the reason is that the best kit allows for ALL the image capacity to be explored. If you gave a good professional an average camera, you would still get incredible photographs, it's just knowing the tool and using it to it's best advantage.
As an analogy, if you put a formula one driver in a basic family saloon and asked them to drive around a racetrack, you would expect them to out-drive you on that same track in that same car. However, if you give them AND you the formula one car, the likelihood is that you would never even get out of the pits, let alone give them a run for their money!!!
This is the same with cameras... so the answer is, all cameras that can capture an image are the right ones to have... based on your experience and what you plan to capture, some will be better than others but essentially... it's the knowledge that takes the better photograph.
We often have people ask for the unedited images from a photoshoot.
Our answer is no. The reason for this is that we shoot in RAW. This is an uncompressed, very high density file but the image held within it is flat. This essentially means that the image is untuned. All the vital information is there but there has been no contrast applied, no bolstering of colour, the image is dense but in it's raw state, pretty unuseable. It would be like giving you a garden that has been left for 10 years, until it is sculpted and trimmed, the weeds removed and the borders defined, the garden will just look a mess.
We tune every image before it leaves us, we make sure there is a consistency of exposure, colour balance, contrast and saturation and then go on to refine the image by removing any specs of dust if that's appropriate or (as happened once) a fly that managed to invade a photograph... there are all manner of things that make an image that final item. If you think this is just something we do now, check this link... even editors in the early days did it with film images...
Marked Up Photographs Show How Iconic Prints Were Edited in the Darkroom