The Headshot and Choosing The Right Photographer
So you need a headshot. It’s easy right? You just go online and google photographers in your city or pick one off Facebook; done. But it’s not that simple, a lot actually goes into a head shot. It can show your career, your strengths, your weaknesses, your heart, humor or status in life. It is in essence, your brand.
So is a headshot really that important? YES! Your head shot is often the first thing people see before they even meet you. People may not judge a book by its cover but they certainly will judge you by your headshot. If you’re an actor it should show off your complexities. If you’re a business owner it should show people someone approachable that they want to be around and do business with. If you’re an executive it should show the world that you are capable, experienced and powerful.
There are three main types of headshots. Each headshot has its particular use depending on the look you need. There is no one size fits all headshot. The type of head shot you need really depends a lot on the type of message you want to send. Below I will outline some types of head shots and the situation you want to use them in.
This style of headshot is a bright happy smiley look. This is the most common type of headshot. It’s a great shot for actors, models and professionals. Everyone should have this shot in their portfolio. Below are two examples showing bright happy smiles on the subjects.
Featured headshot or Character headshot
This type will depend on what your look is. If you’re a tough guy then you want something that makes you look bad ass. If you’re a flirty looking woman then you want a shot that shows off that side of you. If you are distinguished then you want to show that. If you look sketchy then you want to play off that look. Below are two examples, the first shows a big smile on the subject showing his friendly demeanor. The second is a creative shot designed to make the subject look distinguished.
The Power Shot
This is the shot I love for the executives, the politicians and the movers and shakers. It’s usually shot from slightly below the individuals chin. This can be a tricky shot to make the subject look flattering so you really have to make sure the photographer you hire is good at this type of shot. Below are two examples, The first is Connie a powerful figure in the adoption community. The second is a high powered attorney from a corporate law firm. Power Shots can also show the character of a person.
There are several types of headshot settings, so you want to choose the photographer best skilled for the headshot you require. Below I will outline the different types of headshot settings and the situations you want to use them in. I will also go over choosing the right photographer, and what’s best to wear on the day of your shoot.
The Studio Style Headshot
This style of headshot doesn’t necessarily have to be taken in a studio, but can be taken on location in an office while still maintaining studio results. The grey back drop image of the gentleman in the suit was taken in an accounting office building while the white background shot of an acting friend was taken in my garage next to a mower. This shot is created with a back drop and a couple of lights. This style is best for formal portraits, usually of executives, attorney’s or department heads. It also works well for character portraits.
The Environmental Head Shot
This style off headshot is much more relaxed and natural. Its great for office staff, creatives and public relations shots. This style of shot can be framed landscape or portrait showing the environment around the subject, with the emphasis on the subject themselves. It can be framed with the office behind them or a window overlooking the skyline. I personally love this shot because I like to use the subjects environment to tell a story. Below are two examples with a window positioned behind the subject.
The Outdoor Headshot
This headshot is great for a relaxed lifestyle head shot using natural light. It’s usually shot in portrait and perfect for actors and models that need to show off various looks. However in the right setting like a city back drop or building behind the subject and some lighting it can make a great business head shot when shot in landscape. Commercial head shot: Bright Happy smiley look. This is the most common type and what everyone should have in their portfolio. Below are two examples, the first gentleman is shot while sitting on an outdoor staircase. The second, young girl is shot under a palm tree in a park.
What To Wear
So what do you wear for your head shot? I always suggest my subjects keep patterns and colors simple. For an actor or model head shot I would keep to solid colors, for business I would keep away from having to many contrasting patterns so if you have a stripped suit keep to a solid color tie. Keep to your favorite colors as well so you will feel more comfortable during the process.
Choosing The Right Photographer
Let me start first with saying choose a professional. That should go with out saying but a lot of people try to cut corners by hiring an amateur or a friend. When choosing a photographer I don’t recommend looking for the cheapest one out there but you don’t necessarily need to hire the most expensive one either. You generally get what you pay for with anything you buy and the same goes for photographers. I wouldn't want someone handling my images thats going to make me look terrible. Look at their portfolio and make sure they have a solid body of work that represents the look you want. Look to see how flattering their subjects look. Talk to them and make sure you are comfortable with them. It doesn't matter how outstanding their work is if they make you feel uncomfortable or weird. You want to make sure they have the personality to bring out the best in you. Remember that your image is your brand and you wanna trust your brand with the best.
Hopefully this has given you a lot of information. There are a few key take aways to remember. Don't ever skip on the cost because you always get what you pay for. Your image is important so you don't want it messed up. Make sure the photographer has a solid body of work that represents the look you want. Look at their portfolio, just don't hire a friend with a camera unless that friend happens to be an accomplished professional. When getting dressed for the shoot keep patterns simple and wear your favorite colors so you are comfortable and feel good on the day of your head shot. Good luck with your next headshot session.
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Keywords: Acting, Advertising, Attorney, Brand, Branding, CEO, Character Shot, Commercial Headshot, Executive, Face, Faces, Featured Shot, Headshot, Modeling, Photo, Photographer, Photography, Portrait, Power Shot
I like how you mentioned that a lot goes into a headshot and it can help show your strengths, weaknesses, heart, humor, and status in life. My brother is considering looking for a headshot photographer because he's thinking about applying for an executive position at the company he works at. I think it's a good idea to consider choosing a reputable professional that can help display his face in a strengthful manner.
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