Author Topic: Seeking advice - how to take a headshot  (Read 1136 times)

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Online Morris Minor

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Seeking advice - how to take a headshot
« on: July 11, 2014, 07:04:39 am »
My wife needs to get a headshot photo of herself for business & promotional purposes. Wondering if this is something I could do with a Canon PowerShot SX 40HS and my tripod. I don't have any other gear, but the camera does have a portrait mode.

Any advice on the basics of technique, location & posing would be gratefully received.

Here's a snapshot I have that was taken using natural light from a bay window that's behind me & to my right; obviously I don't want a kitchen as a backdrop. But the window might have possibilities as a light source.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2014, 07:11:43 am by Morris Minor »
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Offline cawimmer430

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Re: Seeking advice - how to take a headshot
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2014, 09:34:24 am »
I'm not sure what the standards are in America, but here a business portrait generally demands professional lighting. Your camera flash will only fire in one direction: forward. That's the worst possible flash for photographing faces.

What you need are at least two artificial light sources (a third light source wouldn't help): one light to illuminate the background and one (two) to illuminate the subjects face. The light that is used to illuminate the background will help to visually separate the subject from the background.

Just made the visual below in Photoshop. This would be an easy ideal setup.

The key light in front will illuminate the subjects face. Ideally you'd want this light to be aimed at the center of the subjects face, but positioned slightly to the top left/top right. If you have two lights available, you can position them to the left and right off the subjects face. It's worth considering using a softbox for these lights, to give the subject smooth and clean skin.





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Online JWC

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Re: Seeking advice - how to take a headshot
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2014, 01:45:01 pm »
I only do executive and general business portraits now. Her professional head shot isn't just about lighting. It is a reflection of her--her style, her profession, her business essence. A professional will interview her, advise on her clothing choices (for color shots, she needs to avoid certain colors; for B&W some colors come off better than others.) It can be done with a P&S and its built-in flash, you just need to redirect the light off of a white reflector (or wall) while incorporating the window light, determining which makes better key and fill. If the P&S has a zoom feature, use it. It will help throw the background out of focus.

My last head shot for a magazine article was done outside with a Olympus EP1 P&S. I had the aperture open and the lens zoomed out to eliminate the busy background. I used the sunlight bouncing off of the white walls of the house to provide a rim light, while the 4 o'clock sun was my key light. Granted, it wasn't a formal head shot (the magazine is a rural oriented publication), for that the style of dress and the background would have been different, but it proves it can be done with a inexpensive camera and by modifying available light sources. If I had a suit and tie--and hung a backdrop in back--it would have looked just like a studio business portrait.

« Last Edit: July 11, 2014, 01:56:27 pm by JWC »
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Offline thewizard16

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Re: Seeking advice - how to take a headshot
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2014, 08:50:28 am »
Line up the crosshairs roughly around center face and... wait... What?
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Offline Opirayea

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Re: Seeking advice - how to take a headshot
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2015, 04:35:39 am »
I have opinions, just as you thought too.

Offline Raza

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Re: Seeking advice - how to take a headshot
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2016, 10:46:57 am »
In addition to the advice given, I would use a remote to shoot, rather than pressing the button yourself. It'll take away that little bit of vibration your hand will cause.
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Offline Soup DeVille

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Re: Seeking advice - how to take a headshot
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2016, 08:34:29 am »
Breathe. Aim. Slack. Squeeze.


Offline Soup DeVille

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Re: Seeking advice - how to take a headshot
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2016, 08:35:09 am »
Wait, what's going on here?