by Catherine Watts

Headshots are frequently the bread and butter for both performing and visual artists. A dynamic headshot for an actor, model, or for the photographer taking the picture can be the difference between getting the gig or not. Because of this, headshot photography is a very important piece of the puzzle when it comes to getting hired regularly for jobs in the performing and visual arts. Although the arts can be highly subjective, artists can follow the tips below in order to nail the art of the perfect headshot.

Tips To Master Headshot Photography

Keep The Backdrop Simple

The background can also make a big difference in how the final photo will turn out. For headshots, the background should not distract from the main focal point of the photograph. Be sure the background is blurred, which means the photo was shot with a good, high-quality camera with a high-depth of the field, which makes the subject stand out.

Use The Correct Lens

Avoid mid to wide-angle lenses for headshots. Instead, use a lens that will compress the image and slim the person’s face. The best lenses to use would typically be 90mm and above.

Add A Hair Light

A hair light can be placed above or behind the subject to add depth to the shot and pull the top of the head out of the background. This can be done using a flash or with the natural light from the sun.

Use Diffused Light

In headshots, the skin is a central feature and therefore must look even. It’s crucial to show the skin without blemishes. This can be achieved by using diffused light to gently wrap around the skin, bringing definition along the lines of the face without highlighting any blemishes.

Define The Jawline

You need to be sure to define the bone structure of a subject’s face. If a person stands normally, with their chin slightly tucked in, it will appear as if the person has a double chin, even with people who aren’t overweight. The photographer should always start out by having the subject extend his or her jawline.

Focus On The Eyes

The eyes are said to be the window of the soul. Therefore, focusing on and capturing the eyes in a powerful way will draw the viewer into the photo, establishing a strong connection that will speak volumes.

Pay Attention To Angles

In close up shots, angles often affect the look and feel of a photograph. For women, make the eyes appear larger and the face more delicate by shooting down on them. For men, emphasize strength and achievement by shooting slightly up.

Tips For Artists Getting Headshots

Hire A Professional Photographer

Go to a professional photographer, who is trained, understands lighting, and takes headshots for a living. Good headshots can range from $400-$1200, and to get them professionally duplicated will cost another $100. Trust me when I say that it is well worth the money for pristine and professional looking photos. If your headshots look cheap, then they probably are and you will look like you don’t care about your career.

Look Professional

All employers are looking to hire people who appear professional. So, when deciding what to wear, opt for classic, simple, and work-appropriate. Choose solids over prints and patterns and keep accessories to a minimum. Simple hair and makeup is also best for your headshots. If you layer on tons of makeup, the caked-on foundation may show up in the photos. Be sure to brush and style your hair, but no need for anything fancy since it might not show up in a single photo anyway.

Speak With Your Eyes

Your eyes should be perfectly in focus and energized, and not dead and glazed over. The eyes should be alive and imply a backstory. A slight squint and strong piercing gaze will bring a picture to life.

Ask For The Photographer’s Opinion

Ask your headshot photographer which images are their favorites and why. The photographer’s opinion is often valuable because they have the skills and experience. It also doesn’t hurt that it makes them look good as well!

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