Tips for Headshot Photography

By Emend Studios   in  Photography

Posted On : 04-05-2020


Headshot photography might appear to be simple, straightforward and a no-complication type of photography. For the viewer, it might just be a portrait but there are a lot of nuances and variations that can be done while shooting headshots.


Read further to know the most important tips for headshot photography. 


Types of Headshots


Shot for company collaterals like newsletters, website, ‘About the Team’ section, manager’s columns, and other promotional media. This gives a face to the corporation and makes them approachable.


The modeling industry depends on photographs and headshots give the casting agents to understand the features of the models and their expression. Headshots are a part of the portfolio that a model or an actor submits during their pitching for a role. 


Tips for shooting headshots that stand out


  1. Have a pre-session meeting: Most people are nervous and are conscious to have them photographed. More so when a photographer is a new person. Whether you know the client beforehand or not, meeting them a day or two before the shoot will help the client know you and get their doubts clarified on how to be prepared for the shoot day. It will also help you to understand the purpose of the shoot, the client’s requirements, and the places where the portraits are going to be used. 

  2. Understand your clients: Know your clients by their name – this goes a long way in making the client feel comfortable and personal. For corporate clients, know their background, know their role, and ask them about their organization. This will help you, as a photographer, to build a relationship with the client and understanding their requirements. This in turn, will be useful to plan your shoot. 

  3. Assist your clients with the wardrobe: Many times, the clients will seek the intervention of the photographer to help them choose their clothing. Ask the purpose of the shoot, understand the location, and help your clients choose their colors. For headshots, it is easy to go plain and bold than to have too many patterns on the dress as it is not going to be highlighted. However, the colors chosen should also complement the skin tone and complexion of the client; and the background of the shoot. 

  4. Make the model comfortable: Do not dive into the shot as soon as you set your model in the frame. Whether it is a fashion headshot or a corporate headshot, ask how the model is feeling, talk about the weather, and tell them what you’ve planned for the next few minutes. It is very easy to get conscious while shooting headshots as there’s not much of a candid capture. Taking them through your thought process will help them ease out and pose comfortably. 

  5. Choose your lenses: Choosing the right kind of lens will determine the output of the photograph. While any decent equipment will do the job, choosing a portrait lens would give better results. Some fixed zoom lenses that are specifically designed to shoot portraits help in achieving a better depth of field and also helps the photographer to play around with the composition. Some block lenses include 50mm, 135mm, and 85mm. Telephoto lenses like 70-200 can be a creative choice. Keep an eye on the aperture. F/1.2 to F/2.8 will yield excellent headshots. 

  6. Lighting is the key: Understand the mood of the photograph and the purpose. Most of the headshots are evenly lit using a diffuser and most of the time, they are high key, which means they are bright. Decide whether to diffuse the light using strobes or to use natural light with fewer shadows. You can also try to turn your subject towards the light source to a 45-degree angle while looking straight into the camera. 

  7. Target the eyes: The eyes speak the most in a headshot. They make the shot crisp, dynamic, and lively. Tack sharp focus on the eyes is the thumb rule to create perfect headshots. Take a look at the shots occasionally before you wrap up so that you can re-shoot if there’s any correction or loss of focus.

  8. Minimal makeup: A neat, simple, and plain makeup that just highlights the features of the skin makes the headshot elegant. There’s no need to experiment with a bold, red carpet look for a headshot as the importance is laid on the eyes, expression, and the character of the person. So, keep the makeup as natural and as authentic as possible.

  9. Experiment with the angles: With a digital camera, do not stop yourself from experimenting with new angles and composition. With the limited time available, shoot in all possible and creative angles as much as possible. Shooting in a bottom-up angle for a corporate will make the person look taller and authoritative. Shooting at an eye-level is pleasing and perfect.  

  10. Background matters: Background is as vital as lighting while shooting headshots. Ensure that your subject is separated from the background. Standing too close to the background or wall will create shadows and make the shot look unprofessional unless the shadows are created on purpose. Headshots don’t have to be as boring as the typical grey or solid background. Experiment with outdoors but just keep an eye on the colors. The choice of background also depends on the subject – a solid background or an office setup will go well with a corporate shoot while you can experiment outdoor setup for a fashion or a model portfolio.