My name is Gary Cooper and today I wanted to look at 4 Basic Areas To Think About Before A Head Shot Session. A Good Photographer Should cover this with clients but if they don't, then this is also a helpful run down for anyone looking at getting a head shot. I will show you two images today which sums up and covers the 4 areas I will be talking about.
Sitting or Standing
Right so this one will be down to personal preference from the client and the photographers point of view. However what I want to do is run through why it is important to stand when ever you are having a head shot taken.
When we sit down, we start by being alert - straight back, strong posture and we are ready for the next 5 minutes. But after that first 5 minutes, and it can be over quicker then that some times, the posture goes, you relax and get comfortable but in all the wrong ways for the photo we are about to take.
When standing, you are on your feet which means the photographer should start with the position of your feet and work up the body to shape you perfectly for the image you wanted. Again, if you are left too long in one position, you relax and lose what image we was trying to create for you.
How to get around this, Its easy and you can even do this if you was to sit down for a photo shoot but I believe that it works better when standing. You should be moving into position as the picture is being taken. Now this might not work for the finished photograph if you only had one shot but as Ive always said the best photos are captured when the client does not think you are taking a photo. So do a few test runs and then when you go for the photograph capture a few after the movement as well as when the client was moving for you.
Depending on what type of finished photograph you are looking to create, will depend on how much moving and the type of moving you get the client to do.
Natural or Controlled Lighting
Another subject which will get everyone talking but remember these are 4 Basic Areas To Think About Before A Head Shot Session. For me controlled light will always win as I get the best of both worlds. I can use natural lighting as a hair light or sunset background while still having all the flexibility to light up my client in the way I want to.
Natural lighting as I said above is great for the colours it can bring to the photograph and when you want to use shadows creatively from how the sun has worked at that time of the shoot. The issue with natural lighting is there is only one sun, one light source. So a reflector is needed at times to bring light back onto your client if its an autumn or winter time of year. In spring and summer you may need to use something to diffuse the light to ensure that the sun is not too harsh on the client. All this adds up to having someone else with you or a stand which now has a big sail on it to capture the wind.
Controlled lighting brings a new challenge of knowing how to adjust my settings to work with the natural and controlled light. It means that at any time of the year I can shoot with a constant look if that's what the client wanted or capture an awesome sunset when there is no sunset because the clouds came over.
How to decide
A correctly lit image is the key to great results. You have to go with what the client wants as that just makes sense seeing as they are paying you. Natural light can limit what time of the year or day you can produce your work that clients love. If you gain basic knowledge of Lightroom editing you can recreate any type of look with adjustments to levels and curves.
When you show up for a photo shoot you as the photographer need to be ready for anything and the weather you can not control but more importantly you can not control the requests of a client who had a great idea on the way to the shoot but you dont have an extra light source or reflector to bring an idea to life.
More time posing or shooting?
I love when I see photographers offer a choice of 500 images from a 3 hour shoot or clients making a choice between a photographer who offers them 50 images or 500 images from the same amount of time in the studio.
First question, why would you want to look through 500 images when only 20 of them are stand out images? Second question, In reality how many looks are you going for?
As part of my job as the photographer, I should be helping my clients by selecting images that fit the brief plus adding a selection of images, which I think look great, so the client can choose what final images they want.
Now I do this in two ways, one I show the client as we shoot what images we are creating and gain thoughts and feedback as we go which can be spoken but normally is in the body language. Secondly I go through the images and for every look wanted I will show them 5-10 versions of that. When you control the light and posing, you control the image you create so it should not be about burst firing, lets take loads as there will be a good one in here somewhere. Its about being on the same page as the client with the same end goal to create the results.
How I like to work
For me I love to have the pre-shoot session to fully understand the needs of my client. When I show up for the shoot, I show up early and I take time to talk to my client to relax them and get to know them. I will then spend time on posing. Explaining to them why this will make the photograph look better or achieve the desired results they have asked me to create for them.
If you want to have more photos then you ever need from a shoot, and who has time to sit and review 500 images?, you would be better off having a time lapse of the photo session. Small rant over.
Hair, Make Up & Clothing
Now this will totally depend on the clients work. If they are a make up artist then they are likely to want to show that off. When shooting for a corporate client then a small amount of make up will do. Also think about if the client promotes natural health and well-being then they might not want any make up.
Make up has to be done correctly. If it is old make up then it will not blend well and the camera will spot that. I always like to encourage minimal make up but to the level that the client is happy with. The finished results are going to be around for at least a year, so you want to look your best and not regret a rushed job.
You know your body better then anyone so when it comes to your hair, style it, wash it and prep in away to get the best out of it for the photo shoot. Drink plenty of water in the 7 days before your session and get at least two early nights before the shoot. Do not go out drinking the night before, your skin will not thank you for it. I do offer a make up artist if required who does a fantastic job for my clients.
Clothing is a simple one as well. V necks all the way. For guys, wearing a suit jacket unbuttoned can bring in a V neck otherwise open collar or plain tie works well. If you have uniform that needs to be worn then your photographer will work their magic.
Bonus Basic To Think About
Editing of photos I like to edited all the photos I am going to show a client with a basic edit of skin tones, cropping and any other adjustments I think will help the photograph pop. It is important to agree in advance if you have anything that you really don't like being in your photos. For example this could be a spot that has come up in the last few days. If you look at your photos and then see that you want something changed, then that's not normally an issue.
The reason I say to give advance notice is because your photographer might not have the editing skills to deliver the results you want. I think it is important to match your photograph as much as you can. Everyone is unique and beautiful in their own way and the last thing you want is to meet someone who does not recognise you because your photograph shows you with a rich tan or blue eyes instead of brown. As Ive said before though, if the client wishes for these changes then I will ensure I carry them out.
As a photograph is edited, some edits will degrade the finished result. So if you need to have your face on the side of a bus, you don't want a photograph that has been over edited as it will come out grainy when enlarged. There is good editing and then there is very poor editing. Just remember to explain to your photographer what you want to do with the images afterwards so they can ensure it meets your requirements.
So lets have a look at a natural light with the client sitting down photo with no make up and no V neck top.
Now lets look at an how the images compare from sitting to standing and with more posing time taken.
Now that is how we do it.
My name is Gary Cooper and this has been your 4 Basic Areas To Think About Before A Head Shot Session – Plus a bonus eliminate because its Friday.
Head Shots & Portraits
Square Freedom Photography
This post was written for Snap Creative Photos November 2017.