Environmental headshots often seem to have a cinematic look and feel, where backgrounds and other surrounding elements are photographically blurred out or have non eye catching patterns while the subject’s face remains in tight clear focus.
Blurred backgrounds in environmental headshots visually serve to draw eyes of viewers to focus tightly on the face and in particular a subject’s eyes.
Headshots are about the face and with a sea of otherwise buttery smooth or otherwise non eye catching surroundings. Environmental headshots are useful for many purposes, including professional and business headshots, social media and dating headshots, senior portraits, actor and modeling portfolios, and glamour and beauty headshots.
The job of the environment is to give a feel and slight context boost and impact for your headshot. For example, a headshot against a wall of blurred flowers gives an outdoor feel, while in a space with many vertical and horizontal lines and windows may give a more office like feel. The major difference between an environmental headshot and an environmental portrait is how the backgrounds are handled.
With environmental portraits, the background may be more in focus, even when they are not in the same plane as the subject. Thus, there is often more leeway in giving the environment a bit of the stage with portraits than with headshots.
In the case of environmental headshots, backgrounds are generally kept out of focus, remembering the focus of a headshot is about the face of the person being portrayed. Anything which draws attention in a headshot should lead the attention to the head or face of the subject. Of course, the headshot should portray the subject looking their best and powerfully deliver the headshot’s intended message. Messages for a dating headshot may need to say ‘I’m friendly and kind’, for example, where for a business headshot, it may need to say you are approachable and confident, and for acting headshots, they may need to say you are versatile, and be tuned to a part you are reading for, and so on.
Environmental headshots require good available lighting conditions and may require photographic assistants to help with specialized photography gear and portable lighting set ups. Studio headshots may be taken essentially at any time of as the weather conditions are usually not of concern indoors. Weather and time of day are usually factors if your environmental headshots will be taken outside, or will rely to some degree on window light when taken indoors.