UP NEXT: Choosing the right vibe
The professional portrait is a process and can be as unique as you need it to be. To deliver on this, I like to approach the process by defining the vibe/feeling of the headshots. To start, we need to define your companies top three (3) core values. With your values in mind, we will end up with buzzwords like moody/edgy, classic professional, bright and modern, candid/in action. These buzzwords will be used throughout my preparation as I work to provide a highly tailored portrait experience. This is an important step: ask questions if you are unsure. I find the more I discuss this process with clients, the more pleased and energetic they are when the finally receive their finish product. Your website, online branding presence, and interaction with clients and customers will thank this overview.
Below are visual examples with loosely defined background choices, lighting, and poses and the visual value associated with each style.
Moody / edgy
Background: Dark, un-lit backgrounds are common with moodier photos. They help strengthen contrast and add visual density to a portrait. Options include black, dark grey, deep navy.
Lighting: Shadows will be soft, but deep. Moody photos will have less fill under chin so that the visual strength of the photo gets narrowed down to the brightest part, the eyes and surrounding face
Expressions/Poses: Poses I will mix and match here, but expressions are typically more of the stoic range. Squinching (the headshot equivalent of smizing confidently), expressive smirks, confident smiles are all wonder workers for this lighting setup.
Visual Value: Moody photos can be used to project subtle power, expertise, and seriousness at what you do. The dark background also helps the photo stand by itself in bios and such as websites these days typically utilize a clean white palette throughout. (see my bio for an example)
Bright / Modern
Background: Well-lit backgrounds are the key to providing modern and bright portraits. They are clean, heavily lit and have a natural vignette -both adding extra emphasis and eye attention back to the face. Options include light grey, off white, lit white (only available in studio)
Lighting: Lighting involves large light sources and reflectors from both sides filing in shadows and often with kickers to further separate subjects from the background.
Expressions/Poses: Bright photos work well with open expressions (genuine smiles, etc) and open poses (loose, relaxed, comfortable) as your identity gets elevated and becomes a standout on the page.
Visual Value: My go to design. This vibe brings uniqueness, modern visuals, and well coached poses to help the viewers see you as charismatic, approachable, relatable person. It also works well around bio pages and in magazine ads/editorials.
Note: Photo shown is a horizontal shot. Horizontal frames are tighter shots on the face and use off center composition to open up the photo. Adds a unique flair to everyone, but is highly recommended for actors and models to have at least one of these.
Up Next: Testimonials
RealtySouth - Local Realtor specializing in high-end residential units and beach front units spanning Alabama and Florida's gulf coast
The Business pro
Wow wow wow Dustin! Theses look great! Thank very much and I will make sure that we will be working together in the future!
ABC 33/40 - Local Newscaster covering Bimrmingham and mid central Alabama's stories of the day
The Business Pro
Dustin, these are great!! Thank you! My News Director loved my headshot so much they want to use you to redo the entire station's headshots/photos
Action Resources Inc - Vice President
The Business Pro
Hey Dustin! I wanted to share something special that happened to me with your photo.. My mother only has 1 photo of me in her house and it was a photo of me 10 or 15 years ago. And when I went home for Christmas, I printed out this headshot and gave it her as my gift so she can hang it up. She cried nonstop because she was so grateful and was so happy to see such a wonderful photo of her son. Thank you for such an experience, my family thanks you for your talent.
ARC International - Princiiple Consultant with technology led advisement in the steel industry
The Business Pro
Thank you, Dustin! Your photos are the greatest. I am really surprised with how much care you put into a headshot. I thought headshots were simple pictures. But with you, you really put attention to detail and gave me a great experience. Ps - your studio is gorgeous! It was very nice meeting and working with you, thank you again.
Up Next: How to Prep and Dress
The Perfect Headshot
Actors, models, and corporate professionals all have one thing in common: their personal brand is best displayed when one neatly and dynamically produced headshot elegantly relays the correct branding message, promotes their character, and stands above all others by delivering a strong connection with the audience.
This is the perfect headshot.
The hardest part for the client is finding the photographer who will deliver professional results on a consistent basis with the style that best suits your brand position. The next part, prepping and dressing, is easy and will ensure the finished photographs are exactly what you ordered and more.
Below, I will go over a few tips I like to give to every one of my clients to guarantee you walk away with a better headshot than you ever expected.
Tip #1 - Hydration is King
No matter the scene, I always suggest hydration first. Hydrate yourself, thoroughly, with water throughout the morning and day of the session, the day and night before, and if you're next level healthy, the entire week before. Your face and your eyes are the two number 1 keys to a successful portrait. An optimal level of H2O will create a fuller face with fewer wrinkles, less eye bags, better skin, and fuller, clearer, brighter eyes. Your body and your mind will thank you for this.
Tip #2 - Meld Professionalism with Comfortability
Find clothes that match my recommendations, but don't sacrifice your comfort in the process. Wear sharp clothes that make you look AND feel your absolute best. You will find you will enjoy the process more if you aren't squirming and grimacing in-between shots. You will also be pleased with the results more if you wear something that you know matches your style and you looks good on you. This headshot is the best representation of you. So simply be you.
Tip #3 - Watch Your Patterns
Simplicity outperforms busyness. We want the focus on your eyes and face, so please keep shirts, blouses, coats, etc. simple. Wear solid colors and nice textures while keeping patterns subtle and busyness to a minimum. If you are an actor/model, please refrain from picking shirts and v-necks with any visible outward logos.
Tip #4 - Know Your Accessories
The same goes for accessories as does the clothing. Simplicity. Earrings and such should remain simplistic and minimal in nature. Tie-clips and watches should be classy but not gaudy.
Tip #5 - Complimentary Colors, Avoid The Reds
I highly recommend matching colors that best compliment your skin tone and your eyes; this is the best place to start when picking suits and etc. Generally, light blues and such work for everyone. Reds, however, do not. Red competes highly with your eyes so stay away from those power ties!
Tip #6 - Smile more
This tip actually refers to the hours and days before I have my camera in hand. Attitude, along with hydration, is often an unpreached element to obtaining The Perfect Headshot. The photographs I take aim to communicate a positive and lasting message to your audiences and that is best accomplished when you are mentally prepared by exuding a confident, charming, gratuitous personality in camera. You will notice a huge difference when you approach the headshot sessions with a positive mental attitude. I understand not everyone thinks they're photogenic or even enjoys being in front of the camera, but the sessions are laid-back and fun. So if you prime your subconscious, your body and face will follow. Smile today, smile tomorrow and I will see you smiling in studio.
Tip #7 - Know Yourself
While you are practicing exerting a huge gracious smile 24/7, might as well look in the mirror and study your positive self. Know if you have a 'favorite side' or if there are any quirks about you that I can work around in session. Feel free to bring up anything to me, I am all ears and know creative ways to make your face look its absolute best in every situation.
What Not To Wear
- Different necklines will accentuate the apparent shape of your face differently. Wear shirts/blouses with standard/conservative necklines. Bring various options if you're unsure.
- Hairstyle down, not pulled back or up
- Apply make-up as you normally would. Reminder, simplicity is better
- Be stylish and fashionable, but remember the picture is about your face and not your clothes or jewelry
- Bring a few tie options. This is one of the easiest changes we can make in your session if we need to add variety.
- recommend light blue button ups over white. But both work well.
- Wear tight fitted clothes and have them ironed, pressed, or steamed. Avoid the wrinkles..
- room your face neatly and as you normally would. Trim beards, cut stubble, shave if you walk around cleanly shaven. We’ll retouch out any nicks or scratches if they happen to occur that morning. We can’t edit out stubble after the fact, so make sure your facial hair looks just right for the session.
- Accessories to a minimum. Patterns to a subtlety.