Wick Communications

Taking better headshots

In Photography on April 30, 2010 at 8:50 am

Taking a mugshot seems simple enough. Point camera at subject. Everybody smile. Click. Well, taking good headshots is a little more complicated than that. I asked Half Moon Bay Review photographer Lars Howlett for some tips (you likely also got this as a separate e-mail, but I wanted to emphasize it here. … Plus you’ll know where to find them forever more!) Take it away, Lars… — Clay

Here are six tips for taking better headshots:

1) Shoot in the shade. Direct sunlight may cause subjects to squint and often results in harsh shadows. The same goes for flash, so tend towards in-direct light outdoors or a room with lots of natural light perhaps standing a subject near a window. If you must use a flash then try to lower the intensity by using the ‘fill’ setting….

2) Simple backgrounds are best. A white wall isn’t essential and sometimes an even texture or color may augment the portrait. Yellow never works. Beware of trees, signposts, and other objects.. . when composing the photo double-check there are no distracting elements emerging from the person’s head. Also stand the person at least three feet away from the wall or setting to avoid shadows.

3) Stand away from the subject and zoom in. A close-up photo with a wide-angle may distort the subject’s face. Using a telephoto lens tends to lower the depth of field and throw the background more out of focus, isolating the subject. Standing farther away when taking the picture may also help to put the subject at ease.

4) Keep it casual. Nervous or self-conscious subjects tend to tighten up, so some conversation will help to loosen things. Having someone turn their body at a slight angle will also help to make the photo less stiff. Assure people that they look all right and that a mug shot is likely to be printed small anyway, not across the entire front page. Also do a quick double-check to make sure there is nothing too awkward with their hair, clothing, or expression.

5) Fine tune the file. Center and crop the photo; a standard dimension is 1.5 by 2. Also re-adjust the exposure and white balance. As headshots often run small, some extra contrast and sharpening could help in the printing.

6) Be consistent. Try to maintain the same size, positioning, and look of the images. This is especially important if multiple headshots will be printed together or a collection is being created for

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