“There has never been a photo of me I liked…”
I’ve heard ‘em all.
So what happens when you need a headshot for yourself, your business, or for the company you work for?
I’ve shot lots of headshots. Many people come to it dreading the time, or just wanting to get through it because they are not fond of the experience. This mostly stems from their belief that the results will be less than stellar.
So here I am needing to get a great photo. The problem is, the person doesn’t believe it’s possible. Despite today’s “selfie” obsessed crowd, in my experience, there are far more people who hate to be in front of the camera than those that enjoy it.
A session usually follows along a path like this:
Stage 1 - “Why do I have to be here…”
The subject doesn’t want to be here, and wants the process over as quickly as possible. The problem is, we need the shot. No one would be happy with what usually comes out of this stage. The expression is wrong, the body posture is strained. The frame of mind is not in the right place. Still, we need the shot…
With a little prodding and resignation, we move on to
Stage 2 - “OK, I’ll try…”
But what does “I’ll try” really mean? Unless the subject is a professional model, they may not know what to do, how to move, where to look, what to do with their hands, and the list goes on. So, often they try to do what they’ve seen in the media, which generally comes out as over the top.
You really get to see the nuances of a personality at this stage. I let it go on for a bit, because depending on the person, they can settle in and nice things may happen. On the other side of the spectrum, they try to hard to be something they’re not, so the photos look overacted and insincere.
Depending on the person, I can deal with it in a few ways. This was the second time I had a session with Chelsea, and she has a fun, vibrant personality. I knew I could prod a bit, and we were having some fun at the session, so I called her out on her overacting…
The reaction was just as intended. She knew she was faking it, but maybe didn’t realize that everyone else could see it as well! This was the perfect ice breaker, she started to relax immediately. She was less self conscious, and we started to see the real Chelsea.
Stage 3 - Let’s have some fun
Finally we get to a place where she isn’t putting so much pressure on herself. She’s seen some of the images on the tethered laptop as we shoot, and she's starting to believe that maybe we can get some nice photos!
After a few more clicks, she really embraced the process, and started to have fun with it. She really liked some of the images we were able to create.
A headshot session is really a head game. The atmosphere and experience created is what can really make or break the success of the session. If I can’t get the person to relax and be themselves, I really have no chance of capturing an image they’ll be happy with. It's just a big part of the job that has nothing to do with a camera...
Do you have questions or experiences to share? Leave a comment below!