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June 2nd, 2010  |  Published in Featured, Shoot

headshots are interesting images to create. not quite portraits, yet with many of the qualities of portraits.

you want the eyes to ‘speak’ to the viewer, drawing them in. making them think, ‘yes, i do want to know more about this person!’ sort of a visual calling card. actors, business professionals, models … practically anyone with a head could one day need or want a headshot.

so what are some tips we could offer you when heading out to shoot images like this? first, find out the way in which the client will be using the headshot, is it for commercial filming, theatre, professional marketing purposes? each of these may require a different approach. for instance, when photographing someone that may need a shot for theatre work, you may want to create a shot with controlled studio lighting and a simple black backdrop.



commercial uses, i have found now-a-days, rely on color images created in natural environmental settings. typically i’ll take a client to a nearby park or down a city street to capture a laid back relaxed image of them. i’ve had moments where the out of doors just won’t work, for instance when it’s pouring rain out (like New England likes to do time & again). i do use my studio and the space within my building in times like this.



however, if you do not have a studio space available to you, try contacting a local hotel. lots of the providence area hotels are quite accommodating, as are some of the cafes in the area. a number of the lobbies have a great amount of natural lighting and interesting furniture & artwork you can incorporate into the scene.



for corporate pieces, i will create an image of the client in their own environment, closer to a portrait. utilizing their everyday surroundings that will help illustrate to those viewing what type of work they are involved in. for instance, a banker, i may set up an image within the lobby of their bank. a chef, maybe somewhere within the kitchen of their restaurant. anything that best illustrates their daily goings on.



when creating headshots, i tend not to just jump right in and start shooting. i like to talk with the client first, not fiddle with equipment. a lot of folks are not comfortable in front of a camera. to just start snapping away may make them nervous. which will translate into the image.

make eye contact, ask about their work, their field, what they did that day. become comfortable with conversing with them. be aware of when they seem stiff, when they are holding their breath. that’s a cue to take the camera away from your face and reconnect with the person in front of you. tell them to take a break. make them aware of the fact that they can say ‘ i need a time out’ at any point during the shoot.

let them ease into the shoot, know that the first few frames (or more) may only be practice. that’s okay. no one is counting. what’s important is making certain that your client can breathe easily once you really start to create an image for them and that they trust in you and your abilities to not only produce a working photo of them, yet also trust that you care about the process + outcome.

share with us some of your tips when creating headshots. we’d love to hear from you!

About Stacey Doyle

Stacey Doyle has written 20 post in this blog.

Stacey is a New England Photojournalist, documenting the story of you.


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