I shoot a lot of headshots. To some, it may seem like a pretty vanilla practice in the world of photography – A plain background and a simple shot of a face. To me, I think it’s one of the most intimately challenging things to do with a camera!
The expression says it all. The reality is that they are reflecting the vibe you put out to them. You want them to forget about the camera and just be themselves, but I’m under no illusion that that’s consistently possible in a 15 minute session. Most of my headshots are for business people who don’t have 2 hours to nail their headshot perfectly. For most of my clients, it’s a very quick interaction. For that, I’ve got to influence them as positively as possible.
Injecting confidence into a subject is tough, especially if you have 10 of them to do in a day. I’m challenged with not only keeping my spirits up, but lifting theirs within minutes of meeting them. Shooting a lot of event portraits has really tuned my skills for this kind of scenario. Once I get a rhythm going, I know the sessions will be good.
I’ve also put together a mental rolodex of lighting setups for various types of clients. the shot directly above was done with just the modeling lights and a very wide open aperture to give the portrait a shallow depth of field. This works well for some girls because of the extremely soft lighting. For guys, I like to have a sharp edge light on their cheeks like in this shot below:
My favorite setup at the moment is to literally bathe my subjects in soft light from above and below. It’s what I used on the photo at the top of this post. It’s so flattering, and also quite forgiving as it fills in laugh lines and eyes so nicely. It makes post production a breeze! Here’s another shot with this lighting setup: