The eye is naturally attracted to the brightest part of an image. Great headshot photographers make sure these are your best parts.
Let me show you.
Those who have shot with me know I take great care in positioning the lights during the shoot. It's not just about getting the right exposure, it's about crafting the right combination of light and shadow that compliments your look and vibe, and then positioning you within this light to bring out your best.
the test shots
I love taking test shots as I build my lighting setup around a client. I'm constantly watching how the light is falling across their face, identifying features we should highlight with light and those we might want to minimize with shadow. I'm also looking at how they naturally stand in front of the camera, so I can get a sense of how to direct them to take advantage of the light I'm crafting.
I shoot tethered to a big screen so the client can watch my progress. All of this happens before we start the real work of the shoot (getting some rocking expressions), so some of these early shots can be, well, awful.
Gerry is a great guy and a good sport for agreeing to let me use this image (these early shots are otherwise always deleted!). Gerry works in communications and came in for an updated headshot. This is one of my first shots during the session.
The client immediately before Gerry was a model and my lights were setup for 'beauty light' - nice flat, even, consistent light with little shadow and subtle falloff. Awesome light for sure, just not great for Gerry.
First thing I see is we need to reduce the amount of light hitting the neck and chin area. We can also help Gerry out by getting him in a better position to accentuate his jawline.
First thing - dump the tie, it's just not helping. Next, lets get some shadow under the chin and into the neck area to reduce the highlights and push the eye to other areas of the image. While we're at it, let's add some shadow and kick (feathered highlights) to one side of his face to add some dimension to his features. Throw in a little coaching on how to position his jawline and get a solid expression, and we get a much better image.
Here's the shot we captured a few frames later. Same guy, same shirt - just slight changes in shadow and light making a big difference.
This is a solid headshot. Notice how your eye is now naturally drawn to the top right part of the image, right into his eyes and face. Do you see how the shadows help push your attention in this direction?
The overall impact is Gerry looks great - a true reflection of the confident and approachable guy he is.
upping the game
Gerry came prepared for the session and brought lots of wardrobe options. This gave us the opportunity to explore light and shadow a bit further. We decided a darker shirt would help deepen the shadows around the neck and chin. I also adjusted the lights to increase the falloff across his face, and darkened the background to bring even more attention to his eyes. Adding a jacket strengthened the angles at this shoulders and straighten the lines leaving the frame.
Here's the final shot of the session. Start to finish - 45 minutes.
If you don't like your headshot, you went to the wrong photographer.