Obviously, it’s subjective, but, in our opinion, a good headshot needs to have impact and connection.
First impressions matter:
For performers, a good headshot key to your employability – it’s part of every application you make. On its own, a headshot is unlikely to get you hired, but a weak headshot could land you in the reject pile or cost you a call-back.
For the rest of us, certainly in a professional context, our headshot or profile image is more about how we represent ourselves to the world. What might a prospective employer or client think of your image?
What we look and shoot for:
Connection is easy to describe. It pretty much comes down to eye-contact with the viewer. Miss that eye-contact and the viewer won’t make that essential connection. Without that connection, there is no engagement with the viewer and you are yet another face to drop in the reject pile.
Impact is a little more complicated. We attribute impact to a number of things, but it primarily comes down to the immediate appeal of the subject of the headshot to the viewer. That can be due to many factors – for some it will be a wonderfully engaging smile, others will have an intriguing expression or something that shows character and a few will get away with being just drop-dead gorgeous.
What we don’t want (or shoot):
Unfortunately, elements of the shot can also detract from impact. Expression and the eyes are key – the deer in the headlights look is not a winner. A distracting background is possibly a less obvious fault to some (the background really shouldn’t be interesting relative to the subject). Overly strong accent lighting will also draw attention to the bright highlights (when it should be directly on the face). The retouching must not be overdone – nobody has plastic or flat toneless skin and teeth and eyes should not glow.
What we do:
Our headshots are relatively simple photographically. We light to flatter and to feature the face, and our accent lighting is subtle and understated. Our backgrounds are plain and distraction-free (and generally subtly darker around the edges to draw attention back to the face). Helped by our lighting style, our retouching is light, removing transient blemishes to make you look your best (but still you).
Getting the eye-contact to ensure your headshot has the engagement to connect isn’t really particularly difficult, except when there are distractions in the room (most commonly Kara dog, but often also the peanut gallery of parents, siblings and friends) – even if we capture those shots we wouldn’t let anyone make the mistake of choosing one of them as a headshot.
We’re well practised and patient in dealing with the nervous and unsure clients. For those frozen and with fear in their eyes, our sessions allow enough time to relax and thaw in front of the camera (and of course our experience in reassuring nervous clients helps immensely too).
Getting the most impactful shot for you is simply what we do. Sometimes it takes time (especially for your first headshots session), but allowing adequate time is part of the service.
In the end, your headshot is about you – it’s not for us to show off fancy photography.