In my opinion, the best headshots of people show 3 things:
- In that moment, they seem comfortable, relaxed and in their element (even if they’re not).
- They grab your attention, even if it’s just for one extra second.
- Looking at that photo makes you feel like you’ve met them, or at least gets you to form an opinion of who they are (even if you are wrong)
So with every person I photograph, I want to accomplish these three things. Here’s how.
1. We talk to each other.
As your photographer, I’m not going to let the first time we exchange a meaningful conversation, be the day of your photoshoot.
Being photographed by someone else is a very personal experience. A lot of people (like me) feel very self conscious about being photographed. And this is not at all unusual.
It helps when you feel like you’re being taken care of by someone you trust, and communicating frequently with you before your photoshoot is one small way I can work to build that trust, and make you feel like you’re in the company of a friend while being photographed.
Talking to you helps me understand what your wants, needs, hopes and fears are. I know I have a lot of them when it comes to being photographed (and I’m a photographer!), and I would feel a lot better if I knew my photographer understood how I felt, and would be looking out for me.
2. I guide you throughout your photoshoot, from start to finish.
I’ll say it louder for the people at the back – I am a photographer who photographs everyday people (and by this, I mean people who are not used to being in front of a camera).
I pose and light you for flattery and to enhance your best features, and direct you the whole time by showing you exactly what to do.
I work with you to bring out the facial expressions I know you will love, and I know because you have told me all about your session and what you want out of it during our conversations prior to your photoshoot (see #1).
During your shoot, we take our time. We spend enough time taking different shots of you even if you want just the one image. I cannot tell you how many times I have ended a 45 minute headshot photo session, and my client picks the very last image from the set.
The longer you spend in front of the camera, the more comfortable you get, that is when your true expressions begin to sail through and we are able to capture them in the moment.
This is one of the reasons it seems professional models are able to look fantastic right on cue – they have had a lot of practice!
Your headshot session with me is a collaboration, because I understand these images are being created for a very specific purpose and we need to nail it.
As we shoot, I give you feedback, and you give me feedback. We adjust, we try again. We try a different jacket, throw on a scarf, we move the couch. We do whatever it takes to find your angles, because we both know those angles exist.
3. We select your favorite headshots together right after the session.
Coming into your headshot photo session, you typically have a rough idea how many photos you need out of it. But what usually happens is, we end up with quite a few good variations, some of them with the slightest of differences, that selecting your best images by yourself starts to feel overwhelming.
It happened with my client who came in with her 12 year old to get her some acting headshots. After 45 minutes and 3 outfit changes, we got well over 50 usable shots. But they only needed about 5, and found it difficult to select them.
So in less than 5 minutes, I helped them narrow down their options to about 15, and they were easily able to select their 5 favorite images from the narrowed set, and they left very satisfied and feeling confident that they had selected the best headshots from the lot.
I was able to narrow down their images quickly and with precision because:
- I knew what they would like, because (again see #1) we had communicated well enough before and during their shoot for me to understand their vision.
- I’m a photographer – it’s my job to know what looks good. I see things that a non-photographer probably wouldn’t. I’ve had enough people in front of my camera to recognize what is a beautiful expression and/or the right body language.