Headshots at Home - Part 8
We've reached the final part of our series on headshots at home – a primer on taking the kind of portraits most people would expect to see from a professional studio shoot. We've covered all of the technical aspects of this genre over the previous seven weeks, but now we come to the most important lesson of all. You can be the most technically proficient photographer in the world, but if your photos don’t engage with the sitter, they will always feel disappointing. Let's make sure that doesn't happen and your canvases look spectacular!
Preparing to shoot
It doesn't matter who you're shooting, they're likely to be at least a little nervous. Occasionally you'll have someone sit for you who's a natural in front of the camera, will pose themselves perfectly and make your task as easy as pie, but don't count on it! For most subjects, it's your task to make them feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible, and this begins as soon as you invite them in.
Unless you're practicing and your subject knows this, it's essential to be prepared. Don't faff around moving lights, testing exposure and fiddling with your flashguns with your subject in the chair – know your settings beforehand so that you're ready to shoot straight away, and be confident – can’t stress this enough! Even if you're like a wobbly jelly inside, you have to fake it so that your subject feels like you know what you're doing and that they're in safe hands.
Invite them in warmly, appear relaxed, make them feel at home and engage in friendly small talk. Rapport will already be established with family or close friends, but do make an effort to relax them.
As we mentioned in the last article, angling your client's shoulders so they have to turn their head towards you makes for more dynamic pictures. Try and get them to sit up nice and straight and lift their chin a little; experiment with asking them to tilt their heads – towards you for men, away from you for women.
Whilst doing this it is crucial to be confident! Take control of the shoot and keep talking to your subject. Think of it as an enjoyable conversation with some pictures taken along the way. That's the absolute key to capturing engaging and relaxed shots. You need to develop great interpersonal skills so get them to talk about the things that they love. You want their eyes to light up and when they do – snap!
We hope that you've enjoyed this series and now feel ready to start shooting!