How to take better head shots?

One of my favourite photographer and educator is Peter Hurley. When you hear him talk about photography, clients, techniques, lighting, coaching etc., you can sense honesty and sensitivity in his words that make him so intriguing. 

Below is a list by Peter Hurley on what to look out for to improve your head shot photography and please check out his website

1. Headshot photography isn’t about a white background or fancy lighting. It’s about the person’s expression. If they’re sharing a genuine smile, that’s a good photo.

2. Keep the camera at eye level. That’s the most honest, genuine way to photograph.

3. Your job is to make the person feel good about the way they look. That’s not as easy as it sounds.

4. Teamwork is key. Don’t let the person think they’re interacting with a hunk of metal and glass. You need to work together, person to person.

5. As Bill Gove said, “Professionals are at their best regardless”. If you’re doing a shoot, you’re the professional. If someone’s nerves or expression start hitting the fan, don’t freak out. That’s when you’re at best.

6. Don’t look down at your camera between shots. Don’t even talk about tweaking settings. The moment you divert attention to the camera or your technique, you’ll intimidate the client and lose them.

7. “If I had 4 hours to chop down a tree I’d spend 2 hours sharpening my axe” said Abraham Lincoln. Photographers, your technique and setup should be completely sharp. Photograph friends and families for free to sharpen your axe. Don’t do a paid photo shoot until your axe is sharp.

8. Don’t shoot on burst mode. If you’re on burst you’re trying to get lucky. Also, 10 photos that are exactly the same are a pain in the edit. The client will want to see them all.

9. Jaw line is key. It should be sharp, because that brings out the shape of their face. To sharpen it, get the person to tilt their head forwards 2 or 3cm. Don’t make them look like a pecking chicken, but try to accentuate the jawline.

10. Retouching isn’t about removing wrinkles and lines. Keep your retouching to a technical level. Fix lighting and colours, but don’t try and make the person look 12 years old.