It’s as unavoidable death and taxes, your professional head shot needs to be out circulating on the inter-webs, validating your professional identity. And it goes without saying, it better be good. Your image needs to be an identifiable representation of you; consistent, attractive, attention getting with something to say, and on point with your brand.
Now as a photographer I can tell you, if I had a dollar for every time I heard, “I hate having my picture taken,” well, I’d be writing this blog from my chaise lounge at my beach house in Malibu. My favorite is “It’s worse than going to the dentist," which makes me want to start a support group for dentists. So what you are saying is, me pointing a camera at you is worse than someone drilling into your tiny mouth bones? Sad. But I GET IT!
Recently, at a convention, I took the opportunity to have a headshot done by members of Peter Hurley’s Headshot Crew. As I waited in line, I noticed the closer I got to “my turn” the more my heart began to pound as little beads of sweat started to form at my hairline. My thoughts raced - my hair, my make-up, my age, my hair, my clothes, my weight, my wrinkles my hair…my glasses fogged up – should I wear my glasses? As I stepped in front of the camera I was all questions – where do I look, wait is that my best side…what’s my hair doing? Despite the photographer’s clear and calm directions, I was a befuddled mess of a model. Turn, look, stretch, lean, mouth closed, smile, look here, taller, eyes here, smile, smize (hu?), squinch (wha?). He was doing a great job, but he might as well have been speaking “cat” because I was barely able to follow any of his instructions.
So I GET it! Being photographed is pretty unnerving. In the end, I really liked the images and I learned a little something too. I have issues. (No. Really?) What I was most uncomfortable with, was not knowing what was happening and not being in control. Hmmm, how telling…. Now, not everyone feels the same but I though I’d throw out some info about what’s happening during your headshot session.
Unless you’re a model and it’s your job to give good face, you don’t have to show up and wow me with how good you sit for a portrait. It’s my job as the professional photographer to guide you.
I’m watching you. In the first few minutes I’ll be evaluating. While we chat, I’ll watch your expression and the angles of your face. I might even take a few shots.
The first few shots are…well, garbage. Think of them as the icebreakers. I might be doing a little analysis but I’m also ripping off the band-aid; lens pointed at you – flashes fire – you’ll get use to it.
I’m still watching. While I’m messing around with the camera and talking with you, I’m trying to help you relax a bit. While we talk, I’m working through your natural expressions. So pardon my mindless chit-chat, it way less weird that me just starring at you,
Angles are everything. While guiding you though your session you may feel that you’re in a strange position, or that your posture seems unnatural – let that go – it looks good. We encounter other humans at various angles. Presenting your face front and center, straight on and symmetrical can be unappealing, and uncomfortable for the viewer. The smallest shift or tip can change that. I’m going to soften the edges and bring you into an angle that’s most flattering and recognizable.
Don’t smile. What? Okay, don’t force a smile – let it happen. If I make you laugh, laugh. I’m not going to photograph you with your mouth agape, snaggle tooth showing, eyes rolled back in your head. It’s a timing thing. As you come out of that chuckle your facial features will land in a sincere and pleasing expression. That’s what we’re looking for!