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Wikipedia defines a headshot as: “A headshot is a photographic technique where the focus of the photograph is a person’s face”.
It would seem to be a simple project for a photographer. After all, you are only worrying about a persons face, and just maybe part of their shoulders. Seriously, how hard can it be?
Headshots are a critical piece of many professionals PR packets. A dynamic headshot for models, actors, and other performance professionals will be the difference between acquiring the gig or not. Your clients can be no more excited than if they get a gig based on the power of their headshot – and of course, this means more jobs for you.
Follow these few tips to achieve the perfect headshot.
The eyes are said to be the window of the soul. Therefore, nothing is more important than achieving sharp, crisp eyes in your shot. Capturing the eyes in a powerful way will draw the viewer into the photo, establishing a strong connection that will speak volumes.
Remember that for close up shots, angles will affect the outcome look and feel. For women, make the eyes appear larger and the face more delicate by shooting down on them. For men, emphasize strength and achievement by shooting slightly up.
In close up shots, the skin is a central feature. It’s crucial to show the skin without blemishes. Achieve this by using diffused light to gently wrap around the skin, bringing definition along the lines of the face without highlighting blemishes.
Detail is critical in head-shots and are no more dynamic than when created with a hair-light. A hair-light can be placed above or behind the subject [with a flash or the sun] to add depth to the shot, and pull the top of the head out of the background.
Nothing is more disturbing than a near-dynamic headshot that fails simply because of lens distortion. Generally, avoid mid to wide angle lenses for close headshots. Instead, use a lens that will compress your image and slim your subjects face – typically 90mm and above.
The final most important element is an expression to match the purpose of the headshot. It’s your job as photographer to pull out the most natural looks from your subjects. Do so by guiding them through complimenting conversation; i.e. asking serious questions to pull out a thoughtful gaze, or cracking a joke to capture a natural smile.