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Quick Tips for Studio/Location Headshot Photography

by Chris Gampat on 03/18/2010

I’ve covered social networking and headshot photography before and even covered some of the best equipment for the job. Now it’s time to actually work with the client. Depending on what they want, it could be in studio or even on location. There are some elements of photojournalism, or at least there can be, in on location shoots. I’ll be covering some extra tips for you here. If you’d like though, have a look through my portfolio as well.

Elements of Portraiture

Remember the tips I wrote about how to start off with shooting portraits? They apply. Everything from focusing on the eyes, lowering your F stop down to around the f5.6-f11 range, shooting the correct focal lengths, etc all comes into critical play here. Going along further with those tips, keep in mind your composition. Always try to keep your background in mind as it can either add to or take away from the picture. This is situational, but after shooting a bit you’ll begin to see. Additionally, you’re clients will tell you what they like/hate.

Environmental Portraits

Perhaps your client, such as my former boss at Geek.com Joel Evans above, wants to be shot in their environment and on the spot. This is good for really telling people what the person does or is about.

In photojournalism, this practice is known as environmental portraiture. It involves shooting someone when they are doing what makes them them. Joel was at a trade show last year and he loves the shots I’ve done of him.

Studio Lighting, Natural Light and Seeing it

There’s a huge difference between the two. You also need to see how each will affect the results of your photo. In the opening photo, I shot Lauren Fairbanks of Lifestyler.com. The studio combined the use of lots of natural lighting from an open window as well as two studio lights being aimed into umbrellas to give her a softer/warmer look. Combined with the bluer lighting coming in from the window and her skin tone, I was able to create a great headshot for her.

Use Live View

For photographers out there that still say that they will never use Live View- try it out. It helps in that it can give you a preview of what you’re about to shoot in real time. Additionally, if handling your camera gets a bit clumsy (as it can) then Live View along with an Image Stabilized lens can really do some wonders for you.

Use Interesting Angles and Body Language

First off, try not to always have your subjects body directly face you. Always have them a bit off. And while keeping in mind that they should be positioning their head at different angles for you, also remember that you can move around. You moving around can give a different perspective to the image.

Ask the Client If They Have Photoshop

If your client has Photoshop then try to give them cropped photos (if you’ve done this) along with the uncropped versions. This way if they’re not happy with it, they can tinker with it on their own. If they don’t have photoshop, then work with them on a plan for them to come back to you. Nail all this down in your contract. And to ensure optimal client happiness, I usually edit the photos in front of them at the studio.

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