We have put together some tips and advice here to help you improve your headshot images.
Focus on the gaze
I cannot repeat it enough, the focus for a portrait photo is on the eye because it is really the most important point. “The eyes are the windows to the soul” wrote the Belgian novelist Georges Rodenbach. Accurate focus on the eye is really crucial.
Shoot with a large opening
Taking a wide-aperture portrait (f / 4 and below) has several advantages. The first is that it allows to have a beautiful background blur, with the corollary of better bringing out the subject. Then, if you use really large apertures (f / 2.8 and below) as it is possible to do with fixed focal lengths, it will soften the skin and therefore reduce the small blemishes of the face. When using these iris values then it is extremely important to focus on the eye closest to the camera. If the portrait is face-on, it does not matter, but if it is three-quarter length, it is mandatory.
Do Not Use A Focal Length Below 50mm
If you take a portrait with a wide angle (type 28mm and below) it will distort the subject due to the distortion of the lens, especially if you are very close. In addition, if you want to take a close portrait with this type of lens it will force you to get so close that you will accumulate a reinforcement of the distortion with a very strong distortion of your subject linked to the perspective. The last thing you want is to turn your model into a misshapen being. My opinion is that the 50mm is a minimum, although it is not, strictly speaking, a portrait lens. Prefer focal lengths of 70mm and above. Basically, the whole family of telephoto lenses. The compression effect will allow you, again, to have a better background.
Fill in The Frame
It is a basic rule of composition: do not leave too much negative space, that is to say space-where-nothing-happens-nothing, around your subject. Don’t be tempted by your viewfinder by putting your model’s head right in the middle, with lots of voids around. In the case of a very tight portrait photo, you can even cut off the forehead. The cinema uses this process constantly. Duane does a great job for that in his headshots Scottsdale AZ.
Leave Room In Front Of The Eye
Again, this is a rule of thumb. When placing your subject’s head in the frame, be sure to leave room in front of the gaze. So you give air to your model. If you glue the face against one edge of the frame, it’s like locking it up, without leaving it space to express itself. You would not believe what Carl can do with his Louisville KY Headshots.
Avoid The Portrait Photo In Direct Sunlight
As I have often shown, taking a portrait in the middle of the day has only drawbacks . This draws very hard shadows under the arches, under the nose and under the chin, the model’s eyes crinkle because of the light, in summer, we sweat… In short, we must avoid, unless using one of the techniques following.
Woman Portrait Photo: No Front, But 3/4
This is not a basic photo rule, it’s a basic rule…. short. Women like to be highlighted. One way to do this is to have women pose three quarters and not face. Why ? Well, it’s very simple. If you put it in front of the lens, it will appear full width in the image. Conversely, if you put her at an angle, her body will be less imposing, and therefore she will appear more to her advantage. It’s stupid as cabbage… but it works.
Create Curves, Spaces, Triangles
Always in order to slim women, a very effective technique consists in creating curves, spaces and triangles in the model’s posture. This refines the silhouette on the one hand, and at the same time, it emphasizes the feminine forms. I made you a diagram to illustrate all that.