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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

BILLINGS MONTANA PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHER – HORIZONTAL HEADSHOTS ARE IN

Leslie and Rebecca rocked their corporate headshots!  I’m so glad they came to me for an upgrade, and chose to go with the ultra-modern horizontal headshot on a black background, which is definitely the hottest trend in headshots.  Most screens are horizontal, or at least have a horizontal viewing option (such as phone), so horizontal photos tend to look better and draw more attention.  A horizontal photo also crops nicely to a square, which is useful for social media, profile photos, and is also growing in popularity.  Here in Billings Montana the horizontal headshot is almost a totally new concept, so it has the added advantage of helping it’s users stand out from the crowd that much more while the rest of Billings catches on.  Using black as a background is both modern and timeless and works to further emphasize the subject rather than the background.  The traditional vertical head and shoulder headshot is not going away, but increasingly people prefer to have a more modern horizontal headshot to go with it.  I offer one of each with my “All Business” corporate headshot package, along with square crops, and black and white versions of each.

Tips for photographers:
The most difficult thing about headshots is that the subject expects a very quick session, usually less than 15 minutes.  With such little shooting time you’re not going to get a lot of great expressions out of the subject so you better be ready to catch them when they happen.  You can’t be fiddling with lights and composition, and you can’t miss focus.  Cropping.  There is an art to cropping someone’s head and it’s not always easy to find the perfect crop.  Sometimes it comes naturally when I’m shooting, and if it doesn’t, I try to find the right crop as soon as possible when the subject comes in.  If I’m struggling I’ll give myself a little breathing room to crop in post, but I prefer not too.  Lighting.  This is a two light corporate headshot technique.  These photos are lit with one 3x4 foot softbox camera left about a foot above head height (meaning the strobe head is about a foot above head height, not the entire softbox) and about 6-12 inches in front of the subject and perpendicular to the subject so they are hit with feathered light from a large source.  You can see the large catchlight in the eye.  The result is very soft light that is flattering for all skin types with some directionality to shape the face.  There is a 4x8 foot white reflector out of frame to camera right to bounce the soft light back onto the shadow side of the face.  This further softens the transition from highlight to shadow, but it doesn’t eliminate the shadows so there is still some dimension in the face (that’s why I prefer to use a reflector rather than another light source, it will automatically adjust to whatever you do with the main light, but will never wash out the shadows).  The background is lit with a second light, a bare strobe with 6 inch reflector about 3 feet above the subject’s head pointed on the background so that none of the light from this light hits the subject at all (you can adjust the placement so that some of this light catches the top of the subjects hair if you want a hair light).  This is a simple, go to lighting technique that is very forgiving and looks good on any subject without the tacky “overlit” look that adding a bunch of strobes can create.

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