-Emilio Estevez, well-known dramatic actor
-Ken Jeong, well-known comedic actor
I'm pleased to announce that a new Headshot and Business Portrait page now takes its place among my photography portfolios here on The Photo Asylum.
It differs from my Editorial and Lifestyle Portrait page in that headshots (or head shots, depending on whom you ask) are usually much simpler and more straight-forward photos of people, and the client is often the actual subject of the photo. The images end up being a crucial selling and self-promotional tool for many types of professionals, especially entertainers such as actors and musicians.
As such, headshots are much more of an individual and personal photographic service for me to offer. And they are extremely easy to produce, which makes them a fun part of the business.
what exactly are 'headshots'?
Even though it's an industry term, most people have probably heard the photography expression headshot (no, no, not the video game term, that's something much more violent!) and at least have an idea of what it is. If you want the text book definition, Wikipedia explains it succinctly:
realistically demonstrates a person's appearance for branding or casting."
Ok, now isn't that what I just said in the opening paragraphs above?!? Oy!
I've already mentioned actors and musicians, but in today's digital and social media age, there are many other professions and businesses that are in need of good headshots. For many, unlike the entertainment business, it's a little less glamorous.
Everyday professionals such as realtors, published writers and bloggers, craftspeople who create and sell their goods online, heck nearly anyone who has a business and needs to present their face to the buying public or an internet audience uses some sort of headshot for that purpose.
headshots are portraits
Let me be very clear about one important thing. If you are in the market for professional headshots, and someone tells you that they always have to be shot a precise or specific way, they're wrong. Flat out wrong. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
Trust me, there are no rules for shooting headshots, except one - the customer is always right!
Want proof? The small group of images I've assembled so far in the portfolio page here on the site is but a fraction of the many people I've had the pleasure of providing headshots for throughout my career. I've specifically chosen these examples to show a variety of visual styles, lighting, and editing techniques.
Yet each and every one of these individuals used their headshots or business portraits in a similar manner - to promote themselves to an audience or potential clientele, and eventually become more well known or successful at what they do.
different strokes for different folks
The elements and style of what makes an acceptable headshot varies, not only by industry, but also by what the current trends might be.
Actors, for the most part, want or need very accurate representations of what they look like, but want their photos presented in a very clean, somewhat slick and well-lit manner. Things like catchlights in the eyes, and hair or rim lighting tend to imply the stage or screen, and look more professional.
Often it's important to an actor that their headshots are created in a style similar to many of the other actors out there in the market. They want to look like they belong. Again, to appear professional.
Other times an actor specifically wants to look different (maybe posing as a character) to get a particular casting director's attention for a specific part.
For an actor, a "headshot" can be simply their face, their entire upper body, or yes, even a full body shot.
Musicians, on the other hand, have a lot more leeway in presenting highly stylized photos of themselves, with or without their instruments, as they are usually reaching out to a completely different audience.
Other professions usually have their own rules, but the bottom line is this - if you need headshots, and we work together, you can be sure I'll understand what your needs are and style and photograph you accordingly.
it's all about the intangibles, not a lighting formula
Despite their utilitarian use, don't think for a second that headshots need to be boring or unimaginative. After all, they're not passport photos. Far from it.
This is where the photographer's skill - my skill - of working with you, and yes, if we're being honest, manipulating you and your emotions, comes in.
I normally have a very short amount of time to create and capture something you, as a client, are hopefully going to be happy with and want to use for a long time.
Kroma Makeup Studio, formerly located in Winter Park, Florida (now in Maitland) is a perfect example. Owner Lee Cristou hired me to shoot some promotional and ad photos some years ago, including portraits of members of her staff.
Kroma makeup artist Sophie Locke (above) is a beautiful woman with a bubbly personality, but a tad short and slightly overweight. She seemed self-conscious about her appearance, and especially apprehensive about being photographed.
Look at her. Crazy, right?
When we shot, my lighting was formulaic. No magic secret. Anyone could create this setup. The key was not the lighting, but how I interacted with her.
First I got her to relax by reassuring her that our success was inevitable. After all, it was. Once she was completely at ease, I grabbed a few serious poses. Then it was simply a matter of getting her to laugh, and capture the animated expressions that were absolutely genuine.
Done and done.
Sophie ended up giving me the greatest compliment I think I can get from a client or a subject. She said she was shocked...SHOCKED! at how well her portraits turned out. She literally told me she never imagined she could look that good in a photo. High praise indeed.
what about fashion?
Obviously, headshots are a crucial part of any model's portfolio, and they are a huge segment of the business. The line blurs into a genre of the fashion industry referred to as beauty photography - close ups of faces used for everything from hair color boxes to cosmetic ads.
So, not only do I shoot fashion headshots, but I'd have to say most of my headshots over the years have been of fashion models.
Thing is, all of my fashion photography is shown together in separate portfolios here on the site. If you have any interest in fashion portfolio or advertising photography, headshots or otherwise, please feel free to contact me!
What I'm presenting here today are strictly non-fashion headshots and business portraits.
'headshot factories' cut cookies
Now, I'm really not out to ruffle any feathers here. I mean, what would be the point? As a business or individual in need of photography, hopefully what matters most to you is finding someone you have confidence in to provide you with the services you need.
If you require headshots, local photographers that crank out what seem like nothing but an endless stream of them are perfectly fine. Especially if the quality of their work meets your approval.
I can only speak for myself when I say, if commercial headshots made up the majority of my business, I'm pretty sure it would drive me absolutely bonkers. No offense to anyone that feels differently.
Thankfully, I put a lot of effort and style into my gallery art. And, I put a lot of effort and style into both my fashion and my portrait photography. There is no quetion I get a great deal of satisfaction from what I do because of that.
Just remember, imaginative photographers that have an edge and a creative flair to their work, those that may not specialize in headshots, can always dial it back to provide good, basic "normal" portrait photography when the job calls for it. Images that are straight-forward and appeal to a mainstream audience.
Work every bit as good as a "headshot factory" that does nothing else.
So, while commercial headshots may be the more pedestrian end of the creative portrait photography spectrum, and they're certainly not my bread and butter, it is a type of work I do well, and a service I am always happy to provide.
Those interested can of course contact me here on the web site...
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As always, your comments and suggestions are more than welcome!
All photos ©Steven Paul Hlavac. All rights reserved.