Is It A Portrait Or A Headshot

I often see people that are using “headshots” to represent them professionally that are actually portraits, so I want to explain the difference between headshots and portraits.

 

Number 1: Portraits do not have to follow any rules, whereas headshots have a very specific set of guidelines. Here are some of the guidelines for what makes a headshot a headshot

This is not a headshot!

  1. Portraits usually try to tell a story and are very personal. It may be a shot of just you or of your whole family, and it’s usually kept for sentimental value. A headshot has a very specific purpose: It’s meant to represent you in a professional way. They are typically used for actors who want to get auditions, business-people who need a photo for their website, and other things like that
  2. Portraits can include any and all parts of your body, whereas a headshot is typically just your head and the upper part of your torso. There is also another type of shot that some casting directors like that shows more of your body called a 3/4 shot. This is not actually a headshot, but can be just as useful.
  3. In portraits your subject can be looking anywhere, and a great photographer can use that to enhance the feeling of their images. In headshots the subject must be looking at the camera. If you’re not looking at the camera you are saying that there is something more important to look at and therefore are not engaging the viewer.
  4. No hands in headshots. End of story. This used to be popular but has since gone out of style.
  5. The lighting in headshots should be very even. I typically will like a little bit of shadow on men, but on women the more even the better. And no matter who you are there should be no hot spots from the lights are shadows that are so harsh that you can’t see part of the person’s face.
  6. In a portrait you can wear whatever you want (or nothing at all!) But in a headshot you should wear clothes that you are comfortable in and don’t distract from your face. Definitely don’t wear any jewelry (unless you’re well known and it’s part of your brand), and if you’re a woman don’t wear anything with a plunging neckline, as your cleavage will distract the eye from your face, which should be the most important part of the image.
  7. I’ve seen people in portraits wear crazy makeup, paint their faces, and do tons of cool things like that, but in a headshot you want to keep it to a minimum and look as natural as possible.
  8. In portraits you can shoot from the ground or from a ladder and anywhere in between. In headshots you want to shoot right about eye level. If you shoot up at your subject it’s going to make them appear much larger and a give you a great view right up their nose. If you shoot down on them it makes them appear much smaller and shorter than they actually are. Shooting at eye level provides the most realistic view of the subject.

 

Number 2: You are in color so your headshots should be in color. The only reason that people ever did black and white headshots was because it used to be cheaper than printing color, but now that it’s the same amount of money why would you ever choose black and white?

 

Number 3: Use a long lens. If you are a photographer do not shoot your subjects with a wide angle lens because it will distort their face.

 

This was taken with a 24mm lens. As you can see in the image above she definitely doesn’t look like this.

Number 4: If you’re a professional in a field other than acting and you don’t have a job all you need is a shot that makes you look confident and approachable, so stay away from distracting backgrounds or environmental portraits. However, if you do have a job already and just need to update your image that opens up other options to you. Maybe you want something that shows you in your work environment doing something that looks cool. That being said, I will always recommend that we grab a more traditional headshot as well.

 

Number 5: This isn’t a glamour portrait. People have pores. People have scars. My general rule is that if it won’t be there in 2 weeks I’ll get rid of it. But otherwise it stays. You want your headshot to look as much like you as possible. You aren’t doing yourself any favors by digitally removing something that you believe to be unflattering. All that that achieves is you walking into the room and having people do a double take when they see you and you don’t look anything like your headshot. I always tell people that even though they think that the thing they’ve been staring at in the mirror for their entire lives is the worst thing in the world, most other people probably don’t even notice it, and if they do they don’t really care. That being said, I’m more than happy to find angles and posing that work best for your specific body type and features that help minimize anything you don’t like about yourself while we’re shooting.

 

And lastly: Go to a professional photographer who specializes in headshots. There are a ton of great photographers out there that don’t have the first clue about how to shoot headshots simply because they’ve never done it. Save yourself a headache and let that amazing wedding photographer stick to weddings and let us headshot photographers do what we’re good at. That being said, any professional photographer is better than “that one person that you met that time who happened to own a camera”. These two shots (both of me) were taken with the exact same camera, lens, and lights. The only difference is that the photographer on the left didn’t know what they were doing, and the photographer on the right is a professional headshot photographer.

Selecting the best outfit for your headshot session - Women Edition

I know that it can be really difficult to figure out what you should wear to your headshot shoot. There really aren’t any rules, which leads to an overwhelming amount of options. It’s a good thing that you can bring a bunch of outfits with you to the shoot!

 

Colors

I always like neutral colors; white especially is one of my favorites. I’m also a huge fan of blues, greens, browns, reds, and purples. Occasionally I like yellows and pinks, but they don’t always work. These are really subjective though, and what looks good on one person may look terrible on somebody else. You probably know what colors look good on you, and if you don’t know then you should go and take a look through your wardrobe and see what colors you wear most often. If you still aren’t sure go and ask your friends and family and they will tell you. Just make sure that it’s not a distracting color (no neons!). We still want your eyes to be the most noticeable thing in the shot. Be sure to bring a variety of colors with you though, that way your headshot photographer can help you choose which ones will help to flatter you the most.

 

Patterns

The closest thing I have to a rule is to wear a solid color shirt, but I break this rule with clients on occasion. That being said don’t wear anything incredibly busy (and definitely no logos). Very small patterns (small dots or stripes) can be ok, as long as they are very small and not distracting, but I would recommend not bringing more than one shirt with a pattern and to generally stick with solid colors. One pattern that I think can look really good on certain people is plaid. This can be really cool and I don’t find it distracting at all.

 

Style

Make sure to choose something that is appropriate for your type of work. If in doubt go more conservative with a classic-neckline. V-necks can look good, but make sure that they don’t go too deep. As I said earlier, we want your eyes to be the most interesting part of the photo, and a top with a plunging neckline can be distracting to potential employers or casting directors. If you love your arms – tank tops can work nicely, however, long sleeves work better than short sleeves, so I wouldn’t recommend bringing more than one tank top. Don’t be afraid to add layers! You can wear a shirt and add a tailored jacket over it to give yourself a more professional look.  Make sure that you are wearing clothes that fit you well. Baggy tops will make you look larger than you may actually be. Photoshop can fix pimples and shine, but oversized or undersized clothing can ruin a great headshot. Just like with colors, be sure to bring a variety of styles with you. It’s better to have too many options than too few. Please be sure to iron all of your clothes, including your t-shirts, and check for lint.

Lawyer

Actress

 

ACCESSORIES

I recommend not wearing any sort of accessories. They won’t add anything to the shot, in fact all they’ll do is distract from your face. If you really are dead set on wearing something then by all means bring it and we’ll take some shots with it. But don’t be surprised if I ask to take some shots without it as well.

 

THINGS TO AVOID

  • Oversized and undersized clothing (Be sure to try on your clothes before the shoot)
  • See-through clothing
  • Wrinkled clothing
  • Busy patterns
  • Crazy colors
  • Outfits that may go out of style in the next few years (stick with the classics!)
  • Accessories

 

Now I know this is a lot of information, but there really aren’t any absolutes in headshots. So please bring anything that you feel looks good on you. If you still aren’t really sure what to wear for your headshot session please feel free to email or call me and I’ll do my best to clear up any questions you have. It’s my goal to make sure that you’re completely comfortable from start to finish, and I’ll do anything to make that happen.

 

Schedule your shoot now!

Sessions begin at $400, which includes:

  • A 1-1.5 hour session
  • 5 looks
  • A consultation with me after the shoot to help you choose the best images to represent you.
  • 3 retouched headshots.

Selecting the best outfit for your headshot session - Men Edition

I know that it can be really difficult to figure out what you should wear to your headshot shoot. There really aren’t any rules, which leads to an overwhelming amount of options. It’s a good thing that you can bring a bunch of outfits with you to the shoot!

 

Colors

I always like neutral colors; but remember that the backdrop in studio will be either grey or white, so you should make sure that the color you choose contrasts that. I’m also a huge fan of blues, greens, browns, reds, and purples. Occasionally I like yellows and pinks, but they don’t always work. These are really subjective though, and what looks good on one person may look terrible on somebody else. You probably know what colors look good on you, and if you don’t know then you should go and take a look through your wardrobe and see what colors you wear most often. If you still aren’t sure go and ask your friends and family and they will tell you. Just make sure that it’s not a distracting color (no neons!). We still want your eyes to be the most noticeable thing in the shot. Be sure to bring a variety of colors with you though, that way your headshot photographer can help you choose which ones will help to flatter you the most.

 

Patterns

The closest thing I have to a rule is to wear a solid color shirt, but I break this rule with clients on occasion. That being said, don’t wear anything incredibly busy (and definitely no logos). You know that one shirt you have with pineapples on it? Yeah, leave that one at home. Very small patterns (small dots or stripes) can be ok, as long as they are very small and not distracting, but I would recommend not bringing more than one shirt with a pattern and to generally stick with solid colors. One pattern that I think can look really good on certain people is plaid. This can be really cool and I don’t find it distracting at all.

 

Style

Make sure to choose something that is appropriate for your type of work. If in doubt go more conservative. Don’t be afraid to add layers! You can wear a shirt and add a tailored jacket over it to give yourself a more professional look.  Make sure that that shirt fits correctly though. The collar should always fit snugly to the back of your neck. Make sure that you are wearing clothes that fit you well, and don’t wear undershirts. Baggy tops will make you look larger than you may actually be. Photoshop can fix pimples, wrinkles, and shine, but oversized or undersized clothing can ruin a great headshot. Just like with colors, be sure to bring a variety of styles with you. It’s better to have too many options than too few.

Hospitality specialist for Marriott

Magician

 

Style pt.2 – Actors

If you’re an actor coming in for a headshot you have a few more options. I would suggest bringing one collared shirt, one t-shirt, and a few other options of your choosing. For the t-shirt I would recommend bringing one crew neck and one v-neck if you’re not sure which looks better on you. If you already know, just bring that type. If you’re really muscular, you should consider wearing tighter clothes to show that off.  Please be sure to iron all of your clothes, including your t-shirts, and check for lint.

 

ACCESSORIES

I recommend not wearing any sort of accessories. They won’t add anything to the shot, in fact all they’ll do is distract from your face. If you really are dead set on wearing something then by all means bring it and we’ll take some shots with it. But don’t be surprised if I ask to take some shots without it as well.

FACIAL HAIR

If you have facial hair please trim it up and make it look neat. We aren’t going for the unkempt look. If you never have facial hair make sure that you give yourself a good shave before coming in. If you sometimes have facial hair then come in with how you would wear it, but also bring a razor and we’ll grab some clean shots later in the session.

 

THINGS TO AVOID

  • Oversized and undersized clothing (Be sure to try on your clothes before the shoot)
  • See-through clothing
  • Wrinkled clothing
  • Busy patterns
  • Crazy colors
  • Outfits that may go out of style in the next few years (stick with the classics!)
  • Accessories

 

Now I know this is a lot of information, but there really aren’t any absolutes in headshots. So please bring anything that you feel looks good on you. If you still aren’t really sure what to wear for your headshot session please feel free to email or call me and I’ll do my best to clear up any questions you have. It’s my goal to make sure that you’re completely comfortable from start to finish, and I’ll do anything to make that happen.

 

Schedule your shoot now!

Sessions begin at $400, which includes:

  • A 1-1.5 hour session
  • 5 looks
  • A consultation with me after the shoot to help you choose the best images to represent you.
  • 3 retouched headshots.