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How to get Great Headshots

How to get Great Headshots

I get the calls all the time, a potential client will call me and ask if I take headshots for business or personal use. I reply “Yes, I do, what will you need them for?” They will then tell me that it’s for an magazine article, their corporate website, dating services, marketing materials and or any number of reasons a client will need a good portrait of themselves for.

I have to ask what the headshots are for because there are differences in the way I approach and shoot each client situation. For example someone coming to me for headshot for a dating website should be shot very naturally I feel these should not look like professionally taken pictures, don’t get me wrong, these pictures should be great looking but they should look like you are hanging out with your friend and that friend just happens to take great headshot pictures, these images should be taken in more of a location environment to add to the natural feel of the situation. Not in an obvious photo studio and in case your thinking “oh ken does not shoot this stuff” that’s not the case, I just want to take you outside and shoot something with a better environment than the studio offers.

A headshot client coming to me for a business headshot may need an environmental picture as well for their marketing material or the corporate website. But in most cases they need a very clean and professional looking picture that makes the viewer want to trust the person in the photograph. In this case I choose to shoot in the studio to use controlled lighting to create the best possible look for the client’s headshot session. The images are later corrected for color and density for they will have a more natural lighting look to them.

A client coming to me for modeling headshot is totally different from most of the others. In this case the shoot may go into a session called a “testing session” Testing is when people in the fashion and beauty industry collaborate to create images for their portfolios. In some cases when people are starting out everyone just shares the images created with each other as payment. Unfortunately for them I am beyond the point of free testing, but I still practice the industry standard of testing at a much lower rate than a commercial shoot.

For a Model I would need to know what type of modeling the subject would like to get into. It would help if they knew their markets. Most people tend to want to do editorial fashion. But that is a very niche group that is hard to get into. If you do have what it takes to shoot editorial then a very clean headshot that shows off the facial structure by use of light is best. Also don't do too much retouching on any of these images. They are meant as a way to recognize your real looks.


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