Headshot photography involves the art and science of taking a professional photo of someone’s face. But this can mean so many different things depending on the application. Also, there is a difference between a headshot and portrait.
Headshot Photography Purposes
In most cases, the primary reason behind getting professional headshots is that the photos will be used for commercial purposes. This means in some way – directly or indirectly – they will be used to promote a person or a business for financial gain.
For this reason, it’s important that the headshots be professionally done. And, there are many things to consider to make sure of the results. For some professions – from actors to realtors – a lot of times the headshot is an actual resume, part of one, or is the first impression with someone in a position to hire you. Thus, they can be a very important marketing tool.
The Art Behind a Great Headshot
There is an art to achieving a good headshot. Usually, this is a collaborative effort between the person being photographed and the photographer. This collaborative effort often begins before the scheduled appointment.
Collaboration to start can happen via text to ask questions or using an online mood board to convey goals for a headshot session. The collaboration then continues during the session. These efforts can include agreeing on attire, location, background options, how much to smile, and more.
The Science Behind a Great Headshot
There is a science – or better put, technical skill – required for a good headshot. As has been previously stated, a good headshot can be broken down into having four elements that make it good. Each element can account for around 25 percent of the quality of a headshot. If you have all four elements, you have a near 100 percent shot at a good headshot. But, if one element is missing, it’s likely to lose 25 percent of its quality, 50 percent if two elements are missing, and so on.
The four elements are 1) a good creative photographer that can collaborate well. 2) a good photographer that has the technical know-how to use a high-end camera 3) The proper use of a good camera with good lighting. And 4) good post-production techniques. Be sure when working with a photographer that they can accomplish all four elements.
Headshot Photography Options
A common headshot is one where a person wears business attire and is photographed with high-quality even lighting against a solid-colored background, commonly a gray color. This is classic and a go-to headshot setup for many reasons.
It accomplishes the main goal of a headshot, which is to capture a close-up of one’s face and keep the focus on it versus the background or what a person is wearing. But there is no standard for what a headshot must be. There are options.
Keep in mind that a background doesn’t always have to bel gray or white. The crop also doesn’t have to be tightly on the face. You might want to instead color-coordinate a background with your company’s logo colors to align with branding. You can also opt for brick or other wall textures. There is also the great outdoors and the use of natural light for headshots.
Lifestyle headshots – also known as business portraits – are another option. Such a headshot still has the same goal of capturing your face for commercial reasons. However, it aims to place the subject in a particular setting that conveys an additional marketing message.
For example, a realtor might opt to have a headshot of themselves inside the kitchen of a home they have sold, or on the front yard of it. This helps convey a message of hiring a successful realtor. A lawyer might prefer a headshot in a library, a CEO at their desk, and so on.
So, what is headshot photography? Hopefully, this post has answered the question. To further strengthen the answer, perhaps it’s equally important to consider what headshot photography is not.
Headshot photography is not a selfie with a smartphone. There is no such thing as a professional selfie. Headshot photography is not a photo taken by a friend – unless that friend understands using a camera, lighting and post-production as well as a professional photographer does.
Headshot photography is a professional photo of you conveying your professionalism. Taken this seriously when you set out to get one helps ensure you’ll get a good headshot. And, this in turn helps ensure you’ll be taken seriously for business opportunities.