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Capture a Headshot Easily!

Tess' headshot from a more glamour shoot in Philadelphia.

Tess' headshot from a more glamour shoot in Philadelphia.

Often you’ll hear photographers or models commenting on their need for a good headshot for their portfolios and indeed, the ability to showcase your talent as a photographer of models needs to include a nice headshot.  Models, especially agency models, have comp cards to showcase their talents to potential clients and the front image of an industry standard comp card is the headshot, though I’ve seen many variations of what people consider a proper headshot.

I’d say first, don’t confuse an actor’s headshot with a model’s headshot, usually those are two different types of headshots and for this quick blog post, my focus will be on capturing a model’s headshot—not so much the technical, but the approach.

Normally when a model comes to me needing a new headshot, I take a simple approach. I set up one of my normal photo shoots with the model and let her know that if I see the headshot I’ll take it, as I don’t want to plan a “headshot shoot.”  I let her know most models, even some experienced ones, will “freeze” up when they know the photographer is focusing on a headshot.  So I educate them with the idea, that the best headshot comes when the model doesn’t know I’m taking one, thus, I push for a regular photo shoot.

Elite agency model Jenni provides a great comp card image from a normal shoot.

Elite agency model Jenni provides a great comp card image from a normal photography session that include full-length poses.

Basically, when a photographer and a model agree only on a shoot to capture a headshot, it becomes too planned and everyone expects it to be done in 30-minutes. Based on my experience, the model becomes a different person and a great headshot is usually harder to capture in this mindset.  Not to mention, the photographer becomes too focused on creating a headshot under a short period of time and tends to lose their creative passion.  It’s this passion along with great communication and rapport with the model that normally creates a marriage of the minds to bring out that perfect smile—when the corners of the model’s eyes are in perfect harmony with the corners of her lips. Normally a great photographer won’t achieve this in 30 minutes.

I prefer to shoot a normal glamour, fashion or flamour photography session and as the shoot evolves and I “see” the headshot, I step up to the plate and capture it—usually the model doesn’t even know what I’ve captured it in my camera and assumes I’m still shooting her entire pose.  One advantage to this approach, if the model is posing for me in sexy clothes, she’s going to feel sexy and usually it’s easier to capture one of the four S’s of glamour photography, sexy, sultry, seductive, sensual or a combination of the four in her looks. This leads to a more alluring image, a more provocative but tasteful image.

Headshots are like portraits and in most people photography, if you don’t have “the face,” you have nothing, no matter what the model is or is not wearing.  It’s always about the face when it comes to a great image of your model, especially the headshot.  So if you or your model needs a great headshot, the best approach, treat it like a normal photo shoot and capture the headshot when it happens, not when it’s planned.

Well that’s it for now and as in all my closing remarks, please remember our men and women serving in the military along with their families and friends, as ultimately they sacrifice many things in life to give us the ability to enjoy our freedoms.  God Bless them all and may they all come home safe!  Thanks, Rolando