Five (5) tips for better headshots - or why you should leave your brains at home

I usually say that the only thing I want my clients to do when they get in front of the camera is to stop thinking!

There's a logic behind this; taking your headshot is all about finding your best-looking angles and working with your expression and for me it's easiest starting from zero and working my way towards the perfect image together with you

Some clients have their own understanding of how they look the best and this is what they give me in front of the camera - unfortunately, most are wrong! They are used to look at themselves in the mirror (which is not how the world sees them) and more often than not, they like an angle where some facial feature they don't like don't show too much

Basically, most people don't know where and how they look the best, this is what we find out together during the shoot and to repeat myself, this is easiest if you don't think to much but just follow my directions, I've got you covered

That being said, I'd like to share some of the basics of 'getting it right' so you have an idea of what I have in store for you when you come - or if you already have shot with me, this is a gentle reminder so you remember how to look the best whenever someone is talking your picture

 

1. FOREHEAD OUT, CHIN DOWN

Showing a clear-cut jawline accentuates the shape of your face and makes you look stronger and reduces any double-chins that you might have earned over the years 

The simple way to do so is to stretch your forehead out and bring your chin a little down - kind of like a turtle out of it's shell

Check Peter Hurley's video about the jawline out

 

2. LEAN TO ACCENTUATE JAWLINE

To further accentuate the jaw, and to bring more dynamics into the headshot, I will ask you to drop the shoulder closest to me; this extends your head towards the camera and stretches the skin at your jaw and makes it look much more defined

Another way of thinking about this is to move your ears in parallel towards the camera...

 

3. NEVER EVER SAY CHEESE

You'll never hear me ask you to smile; however, you'll see me do somersaults and other close-to-crazy things to make you smile, but smiles on-command don't work for me; I can tell a fake smile from miles away and I'll never shoot it

Don't fake it, if there's a smile, let it out, if there's not, don't

On the other hand, if you do have a smile, please don't keep it - let it out; your mouth look very weird if you try to not smile when there's a smile in there that wants out - if you don't like smiling pictures we'll delete them all during review

I go for the picture after the smile, where your whole face still glows from the smile, I go for the 'residual smile' which is where I think you look the best

 

4. CONFIDENCE COMES FROM THE EYES - ONLY THE EYES

I'd say more than 99.9 % of all people that I get in front of my camera feel uneasy; they are not sure of what to do, they feel awkward with all this light and attention directed to them and that feeling goes straight into the eyes and make people look scared or 'blank' with no expression

Confidence comes from the eyes, and if you don't feel comfortable, your eyes shows - and we need to fix this!

The expression 'squinch' covers this; squinch is lifting the lower eyelids towards the center of your eyes - doing so does two things: Makes you look confident and ... normal(!)

What you feel as squinting or 'squinching' down your eyes in front of the camera does nothing more than making you look as you do when a camera is not pointing at you

Also check out the awesome video from Peter Hurley about the squinch

 

5. WEAR WHAT YOU LOVE

This is simple. You should only wear clothes for the headshot session that you feel you look good in - it shows immediately if you don't

Fine if you go get clothes for the day of the shoot, but be sure to bring the clothes that you have, that you know, and that you love - if it turns out you don't love the new clothes, you've brought your backup also :-)

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