The biggest thing I ask of my clients when they get in front of the camera is to stop thinking!
Here is the logic: Taking a great headshot is all about finding your best angles and working with your expression, and for me it’s easiest starting from zero and working with you on the way towards the perfect image.
Some clients have their own ideas about how they look the best, and this is what they tend to give me in front of the camera. Don’t be tied to your ideas: your image in the mirror is not necessarily how the world sees you. In fact, most people don’t know exactly how they look their best, and this is what we will discover together during your shoot. It’s easiest if you turn off your brain, relax and follow my direction, trusting that I have you covered.
Here are some of the basics of ‘getting it right the first time’, just to give you an idea of what I have in store for you when you come. For those of you who have worked with me in the past, these will serve as gentle reminders to remember how to look your best when you are being photographed:
FOREHEAD OUT, CHIN DOWN
Showing a clear-cut jawline accentuates the shape of your face, making you look stronger and reducing any double chins and smoothing out lines.
The simplest way to do this is to stretch your forehead out and drop your chin, kind of like a turtle out of its shell.
LEAN TO ACCENTUATE YOUR JAWLINE
To further accentuate your jawline and to bring more dynamics into the headshot, I may ask you to drop the shoulder closest to me: this extends your head towards the camera and stretches the skin at your jaw, making it better defined.
Another way of thinking about this is to move your ears in parallel towards the camera. Check out the video at this link for an example.
NEVER EVER SAY CHEESE
You’ll never hear me ask you to smile. You might, however, see me do some crazy things to make you smile, but smiles-on-command don’t work for me. I can tell a fake smile from a mile away and I won’t shoot it, so don’t fake it. If there’s a smile in you, by all means, let it out! If there isn’t, that’s okay too.
I often go for the picture after the smile, when your whole face still glows. You might call it a ‘residual smile’, which is where I think you look the best.
CONFIDENCE COMES FROM THE EYES
Most people feel uneasy in front of the camera. They are unsure of what to do, feeling awkward with all the lights and attention directed towards them, and that feeling goes straight to the eyes, creating a scared or even a ‘blank’ look, with no expression. Confidence radiates from the eyes, and if you don’t feel comfortable, it shows, and will need to be fixed.
The effect of the ‘squinch’ helps to overcome this: ‘squinching’ is lifting your lower eyelids towards the center of your eyes, accomplishing two things: you look confident and normal.
Check out this awesome video from Peter Hurley about the squinch.
WEAR WHAT YOU LOVE
It’s really quite simple: You should only wear clothes for your headshot session that you feel and look good in. If you purchase clothes for the day of the shoot it’s perfectly fine, but be sure to bring the clothes that you know and love as well, so if it turns out that your new clothes don’t work, you’ve got a backup.
GET THAT CAMERA AWAY FROM ME! AND HOW WE GET THE PERFECT HEADSHOT ANYWAY
We all know them. They say, If you’re posing, I’m posting! They get you at the WORST angles, in the WORST moments and you end up all paranoid that anyone who takes your picture, will make you look horrible!
Chances are that you hate being in front of the camera because a) you have never liked how you look in pictures, b) you feel awkward, c) you don’t know what to do, d) you have issues with some of your features, e) you tend to close your eyes, and the list goes on and on.
Trust me… just about everybody else thinks and feels the same, and yet they manage to get exceptional headshots that they’re proud of and very, very happy with. Sitting with a professional headshot photographer who knows and understands the process can make all the difference.
I’ve put together a list of some of the most common issues that professional headshot photographers deal with, and what we do to minimize or remove them altogether: all good things to know before your session, as well as being something you can take away with you for future photo shoots.
Aside from allergies or other pre-existing conditions, watery eyes are often caused by extreme tiredness or sensitivity to bright light. We will be shooting in studio, which is a completely controlled environment that allows us to control the intensity of the light and hopefully minimize your issues. If it persists, we will use tissues to remove the water during your shoot. Alternately, watery eyes can easily be fixed during the post-production processing of your headshots; either way, your watery eyes should never really be an issue.
If you stand up straight and straighten your back as much as possible, it’s probable that you will have some ‘extra’ chins – that’s how we are built, and how our skin folds when we stand straight. That being said, full-bodied people tend to have more pronounced features in this regard, but with a couple of simple tricks, we can avoid this. See my blog post about accentuating the jawline, effectively removing a double chin in your headshot: you can find it here: <link>
It’s all about getting your forehead out and your chin down. This will stretch the skin over your jaw and make double chins disappear, or at least reduce them significantly. Even if this feels awkward as a pose, I promise you, it will look great in your headshots.
A crooked smile that extends more on one side than the other can be handled in several ways. One way is to shoot non-smiling pictures, but that is not always the best solution. A better way of handling this is to turn your face slightly sideways to the camera, so that only one side of the smile can be seen – or at the very least, a softened version of your crooked smile will show. Keeping this in mind, most people can deliberately extend the other part of their smile, thereby evening out the crookedness.
Nobody is perfectly symmetrical. We all have one eye that is larger than the other. When we shoot in studio with a focus on all the details, this eye difference can sometimes become distracting. Eye differences can be handled in much the same way as the crooked smile, by turning the eye away from the camera, or squinting down the bigger eye.
When turning your head to the side, full cheeks may appear to be more full, which is not what we’re looking for in a headshot. To minimize this effect, angle your shoulder straight down, separating your head and neck from your shoulders: it’s an easy trick that works wonders!.
Having a professional headshot taken is hard work! It involves a lot of time standing in front of bright lights, taking instructions and holding specific poses, and this can get uncomfortably hot. If even ‘normal’ heat is a problem for you, our studio is air conditioned, so it should be no problem. If you are sweating because you are concentrating or due to the stress of the work at hand, we will stop regularly to freshen you up.
Twitching can only be seen on video. Since we are taking images at 1/200th of a second, I guarantee that absolutely no twitching will be seen. If your twitching persists over an extended period, we may have to take more images to get it just right, but it will never show in your final headshot.
Under bright studio lights, oily skin can become accentuated, creating unwanted highlights on your face. For ladies, this is most often handled with the application of a special studio makeup that keeps the shine and reflection of oily skin to a minimum. For ladies as well as gentlemen, effective use of light can also soften the image, significantly reducing the reflections of light on the skin. Lastly, the post-production processing of your images will remove any remaining oily skin effects.
Shooting your headshots without glasses leaves a lot more room for creativity, maximizing various positions and angles that we can use. If possible, I always recommend your headshots be done without glasses. However, if you always wear glasses, you will probably need to wear them in your pictures, so we will work around the reflections and distortions that are made by light, working the camera and angle from which I shoot.
This one is easy: Don’t slouch!
I hope you found these tips interesting and relevant! I urge you to go ahead and practice in front of the
mirror – the more confident you are on the day of your shoot, the better you will look in your pictures, and of course this is what we all want: to look great, feel great and exude the kind of confidence that presents you at your best. Here’s to your success, and I’ll see you in the studio!