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Saturday, February 13, 2016


Everybody needs a great headshot these days. Most new clients will meet you online before ever meeting you in person and your headshot makes the biggest first impression. So it’s very important that wherever people can find you online, your headshot looks professional, modern and stylish. I’ve been telling this to people in Billings Montana for over a year now, but it is apparent that what I mean by “professional, modern and stylish,” must not be very clear, because I’m seeing a lot of people with unprofessional, dated, and lame headshots. If you come to me for your headshots I’ll show you what I’m talking about and give you a headshot that will make the best first impression possible for you and your business. But I know that not everyone in town can afford the luxury of having me as their headshot photographer, so I’ve put together some headshot tips so you can still get a badass headshot. I’m dropping the tips one at a time and here’s the first one.

Tip 1: Look good! This one is on you, put some effort into it! Do everything you can to come in for your headshot session looking great and looking like you want to look. Whatever your personal style may be, make sure your clothes fit how you want them to fit, and are not wrinkled. If necessary, get a haircut, get groomed, or book a professional hair and makeup artist for your headshot session so that you’ll look your absolute best. If you book a headshot session with me you’ll have the option of having a professional hair and makeup artist in the studio, keeping a close eye on your hair while we shoot so your hair looks amazing. I work closely with my favorite hair and makeup artist Sydney Ross, who is one of the few true professionals in Billings at camera-ready makeup and hair. We do this all the time and we know how to make sure you look flawless on camera. We also do a pre-consultation with our clients about what to wear. In general I advise neutrals, gray, black, white, off white, and earth tones. Bright colors, patterns and accessories are distracting and we want your headshot to feature YOU, not your clothes. Your look should compliment your personality, not compete with it. That’s it! The rest is on your photographer! Unfortunately I see a lot of photographers doing headshots that either don’t know how to, or simply aren’t doing their damnedest to make their clients look good. I’ll tell you what to look for and what to ask when picking a headshot photographer in the next tips, but I’ll let you in on a little secret right here: a good camera doesn’t make a difference if it’s not in the hands of someone who has carefully studied the art of the headshot. Any photographer can give you a mediocre headshot, but only a headshot specialist who knows how to make a great headshot can truly make you look your best. Be sure to follow along! Tip #2 is here! www.portraits.paulbellinger.com

Tips for photographers: This is a four light setup, three on the face and one on the background. The light setup is the right triangle setup made popular by Peter Hurley, the headshot king. Using two stripboxes and a small softbox I make a right triangle with lights and shoot through the triangle. I use a stripbox and the softbox to create a 90 degree right angle with the softbox on bottom. A second stripbox makes the hypotenuse of the right triangle. Some people use this setup and keep the lights all at the same power, but I personally like to have a definitive key light so that the direction of the highlights and shadows does not get confused. The key light is the vertical stripbox (as opposed to the angled hypotenuse stripbox). In this case it is camera left and is about a stop brighter than the other the two fill lights. The catchlights in the eyes make the setup very obvious, so look closely and you’ll see exactly how my lights are placed. Bring the subjects as close to the lights as possible while still keeping the catchlights fully within the colored part of the eye (don’t let the catchlights leak into the white of the eye, it’s not pleasing). The background light is a bare strobe with 8 inch reflector right behind the subject. I light the white wall to the point that the white starts to get blown out on the histogram. Make sure to keep the subject about 10 or more feet from the white wall or the background light will bounce and backlight your subject.

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