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Wednesday, February 17, 2016


A great looking headshot will make a powerful first impression for people who find you online. If your headshot looks professional, modern and stylish, you will make a great first impression. How do you get a professional, modern and stylish headshot in Billings Montana? Well of course you can come to us at Paul Bellinger Photography, and we can show you. But since we can’t service the entire city I’ve started a headshot tip series here on the blog for people that can’t get a sitting with us. Tip #1 is about looking your best, and you can find it on the blog here. Tip #2 is below.

Tip 2: Ditch the blue background! The blue background is all too popular in Billings these days and it’s ruining a lot people’s headshots. The speckled blue background with the extreme spotlight/vignette and hair light is the worst offender. It looks dated, plain and simple. It’s a look that was popularized by Lifetouch in the 80s and 90s for high school yearbook pictures with a ton of hair light to highlight the massive hair of the day. So the first problem is that blue background is not modern, it’s not stylish, no matter how professionally it can be done. In fact, any colored background will inevitably look dated and will be associated with a particular era (the brick wall background for instance, is very 80s). The second problem with the blue background is another problem that all colored backgrounds have: it’s distracting. When people browse your website or check out your profile on LinkedIn/Facebook/Twitter, etc. they are only going to look for a few seconds, and you want them to connect with your face for as many of those seconds as possible so they start to feel like they know you. As soon as they make that human connection, you’ve got a chance. But when you have a colored background the eye immediately gets distracted away from the face and onto the background, so no connection is made in those brief few seconds and they move on to the next candidate. So to reiterate a point made in Tip #1 nothing in your headshot should compete with your face for attention. No jewelry, clothing, hair/makeup, or background should attract more attention than your face.

So now that it’s clear you shouldn’t use a colored background, and especially the blue speckle (or brick wall), what kind of background fits the criteria of professional, modern and stylish? Keep it simple! There are only 3: black, white, and gray. There is a reason these are the background colors preferred over the generations by the great master portrait artists, they look timeless, which means they always look both modern and classic and can never be pinpointed to a single era. But why did the great masters start using black, white and gray to begin with? Because these neutral, colorless backgrounds do not distract the viewers attention away from the face, making the face the true centerpiece of portraiture over the ages. Pick up any fashion magazine today, and you’ll see black, white and gray backgrounds are ubiquitous. So in conclusion, when you’re looking for a headshot photographer in Billings Montana, make sure to request a headshot on a black, white or gray background, and ditch the blue background. Read Tip #3 here!

Tips for photographers: This is the same headshot lighting technique I discussed in the previous post here. The only difference is that I’ve turned the background light off, so now the white wall is going gray. I love gray! You can adjust how dark or light the gray is by adjusting the distance between the subject and the background. When you move the subject closer to the background you also move your lights on the subject closer to the background and the white wall becomes a lighter shade of gray. Move them farther away from the background and it’ll go a darker shade of gray until it eventually goes black if you move far enough away from the background. Enjoy!

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