I do a lot of low-budget headshots for non-profit organizations. It’s a way I can give back to the community. I’m able to offer them at low-budget because we skip the pre-consultation/branding conversation and jump straight to a 15 minute photo session. As I’m snapping away and asking the person questions, I inevitably come across a subject that doesn’t understand what is captured in a headshot. I typically hear things like, “Are you going to pose me in several different positions?” Red Flag. I’m definitely going to pose them in several different positions, but I start to wonder why they asked this question. With a few more questions, I find out they thought a headshot was a business portrait. They really wanted something they could use for a press kit portfolio or thought they could use the headshot as if it were a family portrait. So, here’s a blog on what when you need a headshot and what it actually is.
As lovely as the above photos are, they are not headshots. They are portraits. While a headshot is a “type” of portrait, the headshot image is all about the face. Maybe it should be called face-shot? Headshot photographs could also contain other parts of the body as long as the focus is still the face. I saw a really interesting headshot the other day where the photographer managed to position their subject so that their feet, legs and arms were in the photo along with their face. It was beautifully done but quite unusual.
Here is an example of a Headshot which includes hands.
Notice that her head is chopped off. Sometimes I get a customer that complains that their head, shirt, or hair got chopped off. I again get suspicious that the client may believe a headshot is a business portrait. As long as the face is well represented in the headshot, the artist can crop off anything, put the face in any part of the image (left, right, up, down, etc.) In the above example, you don’t need to see the top of Addisyn’s hair to know she’s got some. Your brain will fill in what’s missing. You should also take note that this particular image is Landscape (left-to-right orientation) not Portrait (top-to-bottom orientation).
When do you actually need a headshot? It depends on what you plan to do with the photo. Headshots are used for business cards, company directories, ID Badges, Social Media sites, Websites, PowerPoint presentations and sometimes book jackets. They aren’t normally printed outside of promotional materials. Press kits sometimes contain headshot images along with the typical business portraits.
Actors also need headshots for casting purposes. The modeling industry is actually responsible for the original headshot portrait category. This has since expanded greatly to the corporate and business world due to social media and the internet.
Business portraits are typically 3/4 Portraits, but can be 1/3 or full Portraits depending on what message/emotion the image needs to invoke out of the viewer. Next week’s blog will cover Business portraits and when you need them.
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Real People, Real Lives, Real Images