Great photographs capture what something looks and feels like. When we are talking about a professional headshot, not only should your portrait demonstrate you looking your best, a feeling of mood, emotion, a sense of you and aspects of your character must come shining through.
While the technical aspects of headshot photography, like great lighting and the perfect pose are all part and parcel to effectively executed headshots, whether in a studio setting, on location or in the environment, your expression is ultimately key to what makes your headshot sing or fall flat.
Sure, editing is important.
Sure, your photographer has some great gear, cool computers, and amazing software.
Still, if your business portrait has you smiling like a clown, you best be a clown, comedian, or something pretty close, for your headshot to be anything like an effective representation of you to your intended audience.
Every picture is worth a thousand words. We’ve all heard this and know it to be basically true.
Each picture tells a story. For most of us, the story will change somewhat substantially to fairly subtly with each photograph ever taken of us.
Even turning or tilting a photo, sometimes by just a touch, can drastically alter what the photograph’s silent, yet often powerful, messages say about you.
If don’t believe this, try looking at the feature image here, right side up and upside down… Notice how the same image, seen from a different perspective alters it’s message?
The right side up image tell you something fairly interesting about this woman. Here eyes are engaging for example and the mouth’s expression is consistent with the look in her eyes. This gives a veracity and strength to the image. In the upside down image, the eyes still grab attention, yet the expression is much harder to read, and just a touch off seeming.
Any tilt, of even a few degrees may impact the look, feel and meaning of an expression. Often recropping can improve an existing portrait, or can degrade a headshot’s message and impact in the click of a social media crop of a what had been previously a and effective favored headshot.
Social media headshots are currently mostly square by the way. This in turn is driving the current trend towards more square cropped headshots.
When you are looking to hire a professional headshot photographer, look at their work, in a genre consistent to that which you have interest for yourself.
If you wish to have an executive headshot portrait sitting for example, you will most likely wish to look confident and approachable both. Only confidence alone can be scary. Approachable by itself can be weak. What do the expressions in the photographer’s existing work say about his current executive headshot client you may like your portraits to say about you?
Alternatively, if you are going for an acting or modeling headshot, you may wish to convey a certain wideness of emotional range. Is the photographer’s acting and modeling work demonstrating a range which you can then count on to shine through on your headshots and comp cards?
Headshot photography is both technique and art.
The technique gets the basics of light, pose and angle out of the way. Anyone taking headshots for any length of time will have the techniques somewhat well down.
Art is where value comes into play. Art is how the professional headshot artist gets the right expressions out of you, into the camera, and onto your final edited ready to use headshot portrait.
This art of powerfully expressive headshots is what eventually separates the production headshot photography houses from the much valued boutique headshot studios.
Look well at the appropriateness, feel and power of expressions in a headshot photographer’s work to help you decide who’ll be photographing your next sittings.