I love taking headshots. I try to capture something of the person’s personality, hopefully a flattering image that still looks like her and is natural and unposed. Here’s a recent image from a shoot with Alia, a model. This was part of a series of images we took to help her build some strong pictures for her portfolio.

Here’s what like about the image-

  • slight tilt of the head – makes her appear friendly, approachable
  • an enigmatic expression – not quite a smile and not quite a serious look
  • her beautiful hair is not perfectly coiffed – adds to the natural feeling
  • simple composition
  • background color that compliments her eyes
  • eyes that are looking right into the lens – connection with the viewer
  • classic “beauty” lighting that comes down from above at a 45 degree angle -see catch lights in her eyes – almost always a flattering look
  • closeness to the camera (see more about that below)

Study the picture closely and think about what you like and dislike – some of this is a matter of taste. Alia is a lovely person – inside and out. She is also happens to be very photogenic, like an actor that connects viscerally with the audience.

I shot the picture from a distance of about 4 feet.  I like this distance for portraits. The viewer has an unconscious sense of closeness and intimacy with the subject.  If I had shot from, for example,  12 feet, with a telephoto lens, the look and feel would have been very different. And, closer that 4 feet begins to distort facial features – noses can look huge, for example.

One might think that, with a beautiful model, very little work is needed on Photoshop. In reality, I spent about an hour on the image. Mostly very subtle changes, the work involved:

  • adjustments to exposure, color balance, saturation
  • removal of some small blemishes
  • removing some “hotspots” of light
  • removing slightly dark lines under the eyes – every over 9 years old has them!
  • cropping
  • sharpening the eyes, lips and hair
  • whitening the whites of the eyes
  • slightly softening the skin

One last thing I like about the image. Did you notice she was wearing earrings? You can see the hooks but not the main part of the earrings – What do they look like? What is Alia’s personal style?  When these questions are unanswered, our imagination can make some leaps – often leading to more engagement with the photograph.

Photo Tip: Try shooting portraits from a distance of about 4 feet, for an intimate connection between viewer and subject.

1 Response to “Headshots”

  1. October 4, 2010 at 8:58 am

    WOW!! See this is another area for me to learn…PHOTOSHOP!!

    You mentioned: “One might think that, with a beautiful model, very little work is needed on Photoshop. In reality, I spent about an hour on the image. Mostly very subtle changes, the work involved:”

    Blake I love your work and your workflow! I have to say I cannot do all that post-processing. I would have to increase my price and I would have to pay to learn Photoshop. Haha!

    I want to take a picture AND HAVE it look awesome straight from the camera. HOWEVER, all images need some color correction and sharpen and I could do that. I would say maybe 10 to 15 minutes of Photoshop or Aperture.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: