“Technically, the most important part of any headshot is that it must actually look like you. However, in an industry as competitive as this, your headshot must be absolutely stunning – and convey your look and personality at only a glance. The thing is, though, this image cannot be created in only “a glance”. See that… I quoted my self. It’s the part of this statement beginning with “However” that I’m talking about.
The Process of Finding That One Image.
This Summer I decided to do a “Special Deal” on Theatrical or Commercial Headshots in order to fill up my schedule in this uncertain economy and it actually ended up that I was so busy because of it that I have been shooting into all kinds of strange hours on strange days. This past Sunday I had a young actress from Los Angeles that had a little bit of a “rush on” to get her head shots done so I booked her at the end of the day so we could do the post production right on the spot.
Because it was the last shoot at the end of this fine California Sunday evening and I was a bit worn out… And this particular headshot subject had some experience behind the camera as well as in front of it… I sat Sahar down in front of my “digital dark room” to look through the images (forgoing my normal editing process) telling her to look carefully at the image for tight focus on the eyes before even considering it as a headshot candidate.
What came of this was a very interesting experience that demonstrated something I have spoken and written about at length: “the image has to grab their attention”. Normally, the Actor or Actress is sent images that I have edited, and the way I do this is #1: carefully look at each image and remove any technically flawed shots (soft focus, bad exposure…) #2: Choose only the images that catch my attention as I look through them actually rather quickly.
In skipping my normal editing process there were many good photographic representations left in the mix that were, although good clean representations of the subject, did not have the “impact” at first glance ( A little bit about image and impact). Also, in having just flat too many to choose from, it became an overwhelming task that invited the chooser to bog down in the “details”… Details are a good thing, but many people focus in on one feature that as a whole is an integral part of their face, but when dwelt on becomes distorted in the viewer’s perception.
At any rate, Sahar chose two images out of something like 200 more images than were necessary and I sat down to do the post production and burned them onto disk. Later that evening I went to bed…
And immediately thought to myself: Nope… Not right… Not right at all (exactly like this… Ellipses and all… That’s how I think).
So the next day I sat down with a mission: Sahar Yousefi needed kind of a specialized headshot- She needed a Theatrical headshot similar in feeling to a “New York Legitimate” but for a theater company in Hollywood “Commercial Headshot” Land. I went through all the raw shot images and my normal editing process, then my normal quick view edit and then set out to find Sahar on my own.
I set it up and sent it off on disk in the mail the day after… The same day it went out in the mail, I received a thank you note from her for the shoot… That was very nice of her and I appreciate it very deeply… (I also appreciate how quickly the US Postal Service gets things places) … Perhaps she will drop me a note and let me know how it works.
I think the best part about having this special price over the summer is that I believe I got to meet some young actors and actresses that I otherwise would have missed out on.
Perhaps I should run a Fall Special… I’ll think about it.
Something Else About Headshot Photography
Now… The other thing I was thinking about… I’m going to tell you, so the next paragraph or so may be very boring.
I keep tabs on how my professional site is being used via Google Analytics. I have approximately 4000 unique visits to my website from many and varied search term queries. Approximately 2500 (more than half) 0f those search terms go like this: “how to shoot actors headshots”, “how to light headshots”, “how to photograph headshots” , “headshot lighting”, “photographing headshots”, “how to take professional headshots”, “what is the best lens for headshots”, “start a headshot photography business”, “best nikon for headshots”…. This is a small sample just from today… No kidding… Their are 35 more just like these. Many of them end up here: Lighting and Poses For Head Shot Photography and here: Theatrical, Commercial and Glamour Headshots Explained but most end up here: Headshot Photographer… There are a lot of people out there asking questions about headshots that are on my side of the camera that probably shouldn’t be asking. Another thing is I also monitor the “copy” on my website using Copyscape and this is what I find completely amazing… I have to send out something on the order of 15 to 20 Cease and Desist Orders to other “Professional” Headshot Photographers advertising their services using my words that they scrape from my pages and articles… Of all people you would think photographers would be sensitive to Copyright Laws. Okay / end rant.