What is a Headshot Anyway?

Portrait taken from MorgueFile. Photo credit is JKModel
Photo credit: Photography by Layne








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.

Model Headshot taken by Photography by Layne

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



Shutterfest 2017

Shutterfest 2017 Sal Cincotta Booth
Shutterfest 2017 Sal Cincotta Booth

Stopped by the Sal Cincotta booth at Shutterfest 2017 and had someone snap a shot of Ashley Frierdich and myself. They have some beautiful stuff. We mainly discussed the event; this being Sal’s 4th year. If you don’t know what Shutterfest is, then I recommend you visit Sal Cincotta’s 2016 blog post regarding his event which I post at the end of this page.

Sal Cincotta has his fingers in many, many businesses which support pro-photographers (17Hats, EvolveEdits to name a few). I don’t know a lot about his photography but I assume it’s pretty good. Rumor has it that he settled in our area (O’Fallon, IL area which is just over the Mississippi from St. Louis), because it was central to the US and could easily travel where-ever from here. At least that’s the info I got while at his booth. Truth or not, he is pretty popular and does travel around where-ever.

I’m just glad that he’s here and decided to create such a unique experience for photographers. I learned so much at Shutterfest 2017 that I know I’ll go back in 2018.

Thanks Sal (and Ashley)



You take great Bokeh? Goodbye traditional backgrounds… Hello Bokeh

Booked Headshot
Maureen Dilthey – a lovely woman and a lovely soul. I was blessed to take her headshot this past month. Non-traditional stance, pose and lighting, and she looks AMAZING!

I took photos as a journalist for years without really knowing what I was doing. I kept hearing people say, “Great Bokeh!” I had no idea what they meant. I’d smile, nod and thank them. I didn’t even know enough to Google what they were saying.  I mean, how do you spell something that sounds like: Ba oe ckha? Besides, the photo they liked so much was just a photo I had to take to get the article or ad into the publication. I didn’t get paid for the photo, only the article or the ad.

The ah-ha moment wasn’t until several years ago when I started taking photography seriously enough to learn the craft and its technical side. I took lessons for free, paid, lecture, hands on… whatever I could get my hands on. I was studying depth of field when I heard and subsequently “saw” the word “Bokeh.” So THAT’s what they’ve been saying about my photography.

It’s true. I love Bokeh. I love the closeup, sharp, in-focus headshot with the beautiful, creamy, blurry background (Bokeh!). I take great Bokeh.

Even in event photography, I store my mid-range zoom away and heft out the long lens to capture those sweet, creamy headshots. I can’t drag myself away from them. I do take other types of photos, and I’ve gotten pretty good at those too. But my love is still the headshot with a lovely Bokeh background.

Blogging starts TODAY – Introducing Me – Layne Baker, Bokeh Queen

Had a fabulous time at Shutterfest 2017 this past week. Learned a bunch and validated a lot. Now it is time to get this party started!

Who am I? I’m a pro based out of St. Louis, Missouri, and YES! I shoot Olympus. OMD E-M5 Mark II to be exact. Great M.Zuiko Pro lenses.

WHY? because Olympus is what I started with. I learned its “difficult” software and have been shooting it for over 16 years. (I also have a Nikon D500, but haven’t figured out how to use it yet – There’s a YouTube video on this in our future!).

An auspicious start ~~~~~~~ Photo Credit: Leon Moore, LRMPhotos.com