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Can Headshots Be Taken Outside?

When you’re looking for a headshot photographer, eventually you’ll also need to decide if you want your headshot done in a studio our outdoors location. So, sometimes the question is asked if headshots can be taken outside. In other words, can your headshots be done in natural light? The short answer is, of course, they can be. However, are they better done in a studio?

Natural light is usually a very hard light on a person and not very flattering. Contrary to popular belief, a cloudy day is typically preferred by a photographer over a bright day. If your photographer has you facing the sun, in addition to the very unflattering light, you’ll likely be squinting. If it’s a hot day, that can cause you to sweat too, or shiver if it’s a cold day. Regardless of whether you opt for natural light or studio light, there are obstacles like these to overcome. So, can headshots be taken outside? Let’s take a closer look.

Natural Light Advantages and Disadvantages

There are more disadvantages to using natural light than there are advantages. One advantage is that it is low cost. The sun is free to use. But, as with most things that are free, they’re usually not the best option. If a photographer knows what they’re doing, they can make great photos for you using natural light. Also, if you’re doing lifestyle photos, natural light is a great option. There are also great locations for a good backdrop, such as the Los Angeles arts district where Headshots by The Light Committee is located.

Natural Light Actor Headshot Outside

With the Right Photographer, Good Natural Light Headshots Can Be Created to Complement a Headshot Portfolio

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How to Get the Best Model Headshots for Your Career

We recently covered how to find, evaluate, and select a good headshot photographer. In this article, we look at the type of photos you should get, what to wear, and working with photographers.

Model Headshots | Los Angeles
Model: Sara Murphy; Photographer: TheLightCommittee

What Types of Modeling Photos Should You Get

At the very least, get close-up headshots and you can generally consider getting a beauty headshot or commercial headshot. A beauty headshot is precisely as its name indicates – where you’re trying to showcase your beauty. Equally, a commercial headshot is also as the name indicates – one where you showcase how you might appear for a common commercial ad.

You will also need a full-length body shot, at least one in a swimsuit. You might also opt for the second one in an outfit. Try to make the outfit lean on tighter-fitting so the shape of your body shows. Read the rest, published on Model Mayhem.

Can Headshots Be Black and White?

This is a question that comes up on some occasions – can headshots be black and white? Some might argue it depends on what it’s for. For example, some might say actor headshots can be black and white but corporate headshots should not be. Some might also argue that model headshots can be black and white. The quick answer is, of course headshots can be black and white but, not as the primary ones you use – and that’s regardless of what they are for.

Your main headshots should be in color. This is for many obvious reasons I’ll go ahead and state anyway. Whether you’re an actor, business executive, model, etc., the purpose of a headshot is to show an accurate representation of you. The last time I checked, the world operates in full color. So, a black and white headshot is not an accurate representation of you.

Black and White Actor Headshot

A Black and White Headshot is a Classic and Looks Good, Like this One. But, It’s an Outdated Process and Inaccurate Representation of You.

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Can Headshots Be Selfies

Okay, right to the point… Never ever, if you’re serious about your career. There is no such thing as a professional selfie, but there is such thing as a professional headshot. There are many reasons to steer clear of the tempting ease of just using your smartphone.

It’s Not Even a Fair Fight

One might argue that there is no benchmark for what a professional headshot should look like, in terms of quality. But, you can look at a headshot from a professional photographer that used one of the best DSLRs available and compare it to a selfie and easily tell the difference. So, when you put your selfie out there to be compared with truly professional headshots, you’ve failed to meet that benchmark and to be judged by it.

A smartphone camera is simply not up to the task of producing professional-quality photos or video. This is because, for professional careers, full frame DSLRs (and full frame mirrorless cameras nowadays) have been defined as the benchmark of quality for headshots. No smartphone camera comes close to meeting that benchmark. Don’t let the fancy advertisements fool you.

Let’s imagine the below image represents an overlay of two rooms. The black room is clearly much larger than the white room. This is the approximate size of a full frame image sensor of a professional-grade DSLR camera – the black one – compared with the size of the image sensor on the latest iPhone XR – the white one.

Full-Frame to iPhone XR sensor size compare

While Not to Actual Scale, This is An Approximation of How Small the iPhone XR Sensor is Compared With a Full Frame DSLR or Mirrorless Sensor

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Can Headshots Be Horizontal

It’s a question sometimes asked by actors, executives, models, musicians and other people in need of a headshot. The very quick answer is, sure. Of course, a headshot can be horizontal. There is no law stating otherwise. Some industries might have norms and some institutions might have requirements for a headshot’s orientation. So, it’s best to check before submitting. The better answer overall is your primary headshots should not be horizontal.

Why Can Headshots Be Landscape or Not

A primary reason you get a headshot is to put the focus on you – your face and body. Humans are mostly vertical; thus, your headshot should match. Part of the reason is you want to fill the frame of a photo with you, not empty space or other backgrounds that take away from the focus on you.

Most corporate executives need just one headshot and it should usually be vertical – an 8×10” format, to be more specific. However, if you’re in an industry where you use multiple headshots – actors, models, real estate, etc. – you should consider employing “The Overlap Portfolio Technique.”

The Overlap Portfolio Technique

It sounds complicated but, it’s actually simple. In The Overlap Portfolio Technique, you employ a mix of vertical and horizontal shots. The vertical shots you have done should be close-up shots that feature you. These are your primary headshots for submitting for career-oriented requirements. Generally speaking, because horizontal headshots will show more background, these headshots can use a strategy for the background.

The Overlap Portfolio

“The Overlap Portfolio Technique” is When You Uses a Mix of Vertical and Horizontal Headshots

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