Professional headshots are used for all kinds of reason, from putting together a portfolio for modeling/acting to corporate headshots that appear on website or company promotional material. Good headshots are among some of the hardest photographs to take. Posing for a headshot can make your subject feel uncomfortable and self-conscious. What separates a mediocre portrait photographer from a great one is their ability to make the client feel comfortable enough to take a good picture. Let’s look at how you can make that happen.
Let them Know Ahead of Time What to Expect
When people know what to expect ahead of time they are far less nervous when the time comes to get their pictures taken. Some people are incredibly uncomfortable in front of the camera at the best of times. You can run through your process and what you need from the client, it makes the shoot go easier when you are both prepared. Here is an idea of what you can tell your clients.
Get to Know Your Subject
When your client comes through your door take the time to get to know them. You can take five minutes of your session to ask about their day, their work, their family or anything else. Take the time to explore the reason they are there to get a headshot done, is it for a portfolio or corporate headshots. Listen to what they have to say and what they need before you pick up your camera. Watch their body language so you can take cues on when they relax and when they are getting nervous. Establishing some rapport with your client will help you take more natural photos.
Helping them Pose
For someone that hasn’t done extensive modeling then posing can seem the most unnatural thing in the world and it that is the time that your client starts getting uncomfortable. Keep talking to them as you take pictures to help make them feel at ease. Depending on the style of headshot you are taking your client may be sitting or standing. Portfolio pictures give you a bit more leeway for creativity than corporate headshots. Corporate headshots are usually done in the studio with the client sitting down.
The key to getting a good portrait or headshot is making your client feel comfortable and relaxed. Once your client feels comfortable with you then you can grab the perfect headshot both you and your client can be proud of.
People are under the impression that portrait photography is easy, all you need to do is get the subject to sit there, point the camera and shoot. That is how you end up with some really bad portrait pictures. Taking a good portrait photo isn’t easy, you need to be able to adjust the lighting, position your camera and still work with your subject. Just consider the difference between a portrait on a magazine cover and your grade school pictures. If you want to learn how to take a good portrait photo then read on.
Be Careful with the Background
The background of your photos makes a huge difference in the quality of the pictures. A background that is too busy is just distracting, ideally you want a background that will reflect light. Use the background to create contrast, that is something you see quite often in glamour portraits. Professional headshots that are done for modeling agencies have a monochromatic background and portraits for business people often are just the natural environment, which brings us to the next tip.
Candid Pictures are Better
You remember those awful pictures you used to get in grade school? Half the problem with them is that they were posed, corporate headshots are almost as bad. Even when you are doing portrait pictures in a studio you will still have to make your subject look and feel natural and relaxed. Take as many pictures as you can and you may be surprised at which ones turn out the best.
Light is Your Friend
Light is everything in photography and portrait photography is no different. Soft lighting tends to work best, while bright lighting can make your subject looked washed out. If you try taking pictures with your subject standing under direct sunlight you will see exactly how it can ruin a picture. While you can always use a program like Photoshop to edit your picture sometimes they just can’t be saved.
Digital cameras can store as many pictures as your digital camera will allow so take a ton of pictures. This gives you time for your subject to relax and for you to get the perfect shot. You may spend more time looking through the pictures afterwards to find the right one than you actually did taking the pictures.
Taking good portraits is an art, that’s why good portrait photographers are in high demand and command high prices. Find a willing model and practice as often as you can. It will help you learn different styles and techniques to finally perfect your art.