Taking Fabulous Headshots | 9 Close-Up Photography Tips when you have no idea what you’re doing.
Oh my gosh what was I thinking?
Why the heck did I say yes I would take your headshot??!
Who knew there is a psychology to taking close up headshots of people?
Every so often my inner research scientist rears its cooped-up head and forces me to dig in and REALLY try to understand and learn how to do something new. Something Hard.
People don’t like having their picture taken.
Well most people don’t.
But people REALLY don’t like having a close up head and shoulders shot taken.
9 Headshot Tips from a total Amateur Portrait Newbie! — Or — if I can do this YOU can do this!
- Bring friends and shoot as a group. Do each other’s make up, help each other step out of their comfort zone. Be a cheerleader during the photo shoot. And just laugh.
- Plan to go out to dinner afterwards. If you have somewhere to go you’re more likely to enjoy getting dressed up and pretty yourself right?
- Remind everyone even if the posing feels weird this is just the head and shoulders… nothing else will show anyway.
- Learn from their selfies! People take selfies they like better than close up photography by someone else. Find out why? Look at their favorite selfies and note which side of their face they like better (hint, it’s usually the side they part their hair on).
- Get them to trust you. Show a few of the first photos on the camera screen so they will see.. WHOA? These look great and I NEVER like photos of myself! And keep showing them when you see something that is amazing.
- FIX their hair and point out anything weird about their make-up. They’ll relax knowing you are their new BFF watching out for them and aren’t going to let anything stick out or look crazy.
- Find the best lighting. I spent 15 minutes wandering around my friend’s house and backyard looking for strong but not harsh light. We ended up crammed into a stair landing but the lighting was PERFECT even if I had to do some acrobatics to make it work! Kelley kept saying.. THAT really IS great lighting. Who knew… right here on my stairs?!
- Posing. It’s all about the lean and then the shadows you can manufacture around the chin. I’m way too amateur to get this perfect. But for a first attempt I was very pleased with the results and I’m eager to try again pushing even further for the perfect lighting angle. Peter Hurley pretty much OWNs the science of the perfect headshot. If you do nothing else, watch this video… see what I mean: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qe3oJnFtA_k
- Let them know exactly how much post editing and touch-ups you’re willing to do. I’m not going to remove any God-Given attributes (your mole stays)… but I WILL soften forehead wrinkles if their smile emphasizes them and I’ll happily remove any acne or blemishes. And…heck yes I will make your eyes pop!
The rest of the Story…
My local blogging friends Kate and Kelley (above) asked if I would take new headshot photos of them. I thought it would be lots of fun and happily agreed. We’ll make a party of it! And then realized I don’t know the first thing about close up portraits. I’ve been researching family, group and couple shots lately.
I panicked. Kate said the last time she had ‘professional’ headshots created she ended up in tears and hated the photos. Kelley is more relaxed but bless her, she’s 8 months pregnant! How brave is that?!
Yeah, I was feeling freaked out.
But at worst, I told myself, they won’t use the photos right?
Still. I did a LOT of research. I read no less than 20 blog posts about posing for headshots. I watched several Peter Hurley videos. (I’m now his biggest fan.) I arrived prepared with a bunch of example Pinterest headshots that were NOT celebrities, just regular people with a great headshot.
And we totally practiced the Peter Hurley ‘turtle chin’ thing before we got started.
Oh and ‘squinching’.
It’s a thing.
I’m happy to say the evening was a success, at least I think so!
And dinner was super yummy too. (If you’re ever in Fort Mill, SC please… try out the Local Dish Restaurant. Think: funky, yet traditional southern food in a farm-to-table atmosphere. Try the Chicken and Waffles. You’re Welcome in advance.)