Portrait Photography Tip: Shooting a great portrait or headshot is much more than using the right lens and lighting. The real work happens long before the shoot, and that is the planning. If you don’t consider the final use of the photos, discuss outfits, jewelry, hair and makeup with your subject and insure that everything is in place to make a great portrait or headshot - you will not be able to get consistently good results.
Today's assignment, a headshot sitting, a good old-fashioned business headshot. My subject is a 30-year-old young woman who's beginning a practice as a therapist. The assignment, to create some headshots well as some waist up shots that are going to be used on her website and in social media. Now, to do this shot the right way, it's not as simple as saying sure, bring a couple outfits and show up, go into the studio, set up some lights, take some pictures. If you're going to do the job right, there's a lot of information that you need to know and there's a lot of planning that should go in.
In this case, the first thing I did was I asked her about her website, specifically the color scheme. I wanted to know if there were any colors that were prominent on this site because I wanted to make sure that she didn't wind up selecting an outfit that would clash with those colors. Don't assume that your subjects will think of this. Your subjects come to you because you're the expert. In this case, I found out that her logo has burgundy in it and that burgundy would also be the accent color on the website. I also found out that page backgrounds are white. That gave me a good sense that I could probably shoot on a white background. That way, it's going to look good on the website. We don't want the background to clash either. Then I needed to make sure that I was keeping her in a color range that would work with the burgundy.
The next step was to have a discussion about outfits. What I wanted to know from her was what kind of a tone did she want to set. I mentioned this is a 30-year-old therapist. She has a very young look to her. The question was do you want to go in a professional direction and do a business suit and make it very formal or since you are a therapist, do you want to go ahead, work a little bit younger and more causal so that you look like you are open and approachable and very friendly. She was all about being young, open, approachable, friendly look. That basically dictated that we would stick with blouses or light sweaters.
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