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Friday, March 25, 2016


I cannot stress enough how important a great looking headshot is these days. There is simply no getting around the fact that most potential customers will get a first impression of you online before meeting you in person. To make the most of those first impressions you need the best looking headshot you can get, which will help your potential customers make a human connection with you, even through a computer or phone. If you think about it, your headshot will be used a lot, and not just in marketing. You can use it for your profile photo on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. and on your website. You can even use a headshot on your business cards and in your email signature to make a human connection every chance you get. Because it’s so important to have an awesome headshot I’m giving everyone my best headshot tips, so everyone knows how to get the best headshot they can get, whether they book with us at Paul Bellinger Photography, or with someone else. If you’re new to the blog, you might want to check out Tip #1 here first, and follow the links to Tips 2 and 3. Tip #3 is below.

Tip 3: Go horizontal and crop the head! This is a great tip because almost anyone can do this right now without even having to get a new headshot, just crop the one you have and tell your photographer to shoot horizontal next time. If you’ve looked around on this blog, or on my website you’ll see I only show horizontal headshots when it comes to professional business headshots, and they’re all cropped very tightly into the head. Why have we gone for the horizontal head crop? The main reason is because today’s devices are almost all horizontal, with widescreens being the new standard on computers, TVs, and mobile devices. As a result, most web developers and social networks display horizontal images more prominently than vertical images, with more real estate devoted to horizontal images. So if you have a horizontal headshot you increase the chances people will see it, and people are more likely to take note of it and make a human connection if they do, because you’ll be utilizing as much space as possible. But why the tight head crop? For the same reason we want your headshot to appear as big as possible, we also crop off the top of the heads and most of the body, so more real estate is devoted to what we really want people to see: your eyes! Cropping the head is necessary to make the eyes as big as possible in the photo and we don’t want to waste unnecessary space on the background above the head. It’s all about the eyes! The look in a person’s eyes is what tells the whole story about who they are, and that’s why looking into someone’s eyes is such an important human connection. By giving as much real estate as possible to your eyes, your chances of making a human connection will dramatically increase. That’s also why we want to keep headshots cropped very tightly around the head, and not include much of the body at all. Vertical headshots and portraits tend to include far too much of the body, making the eyes too small to make a human connection with the eyes. Take a look at your current profile pics, if you can’t see your eyes very clearly then you need to crop it tighter!

For these reasons, the horizontal head cropped headshot is very popular right now, it’s the biggest trend in headshots in the major photography markets in New York City and Los Angeles. So naturally people are associating a horizontal headshot with being very modern, while the vertical headshot is starting to look more traditional and maybe even old-fashioned. Cropping into heads is also very common, it’s very popular in magazines, especially fashion magazines. Just look at any magazine rack and you’ll see head crops everywhere. Again the head crop is thought to be very modern and in fashion. Just as an FYI, I always include the whole head during my sessions and deliver cropped and uncropped versions, just in case anyone needs the top of their head for something! If you didn’t read it already, check out Tip #2 here! 

Tips for photographers: This is my favorite setup for headshots. I’ve written about the lighting setup here, so you’ll have to read about it there. But I want to mention here that I generally prefer some type of beauty lighting setup for headshots, which means a lot of soft light that is flattering for all skin types. To get the light as soft as possible you bring the lights as close to the subjects face as possible. Bringing the lights close has the added benefit of creating very fast falloff, which slims the face and creates dimension, ensuring that your portraits are flattering but don’t ever look flat. For the most part, all you need is one light with the biggest soft light modifier you can get (a big white umbrella is nice and cheap), and a reflector or two, which is what you use for “clamshell lighting,” the traditional standard for beauty lighting (Google it!). For people that want to look at little more badass, I like to adjust the ratios of my lights to create directionality and shadows, but I’ll leave that tip for another day.

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