What Is A Headshot?

April 07, 2016

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I do a lot of headshots for various people.  Actors, actresses, models, attorneys, business owners, CEO's, etc., you name it.  It's important to know what a headshot is for.  The purpose of a headshot is to essentially let people know what you look like.  It personalized the experience of the person looking at it.  Casting directors need to know what you look like to evaluate if you are a fit for the part and of course clients and your business peers like to know who they are talking to.  It is essentially a professional picture of what you look like.  What is is not is a feel good, glamour shot.

Professionals should not have selfies on any part of their advertising media where a headshot should be.  Do you want to hire an accountant that looks professional and appears to be confident and approachable or do you want to hire an accountant who took a selfie in their car at a high angle and then used an app to smooth out their skin?  One is professional and one is a "feel good" shot.  Business is about being realistic and a selfie that makes you look you look 10 years younger and 20 pounds lighter because you nailed the perfect angle isn't going to make a good case for you when you show up and you look nothing like your unofficial selfie picture.  A casting director will throw you out of their office and the first impression of a client or peer will be that you are false advertising.  A professional headshot represents the real you in the present.

That leads me to the next part of this subject.  How far do we go when editing a professional headshot?  That is a great question and I will tell you where I draw the line.  For one, I remove anything on the person's face that is temporary such as a blemish, scratch, sore or red spot.  If there is a scar, it stays there because when people meet you they will see it.  I do on occasion have to fix hair when it it out of place or fly aways when they are a distraction.  I like to remove a little yellow from the teeth if necessary and will smooth out some discoloration of the skin for those who were just in the sun.  Basically, I keep it real so that what you see is what you get.  I use my lighting technique to brighten the eyes and create nice catchlights so I don't have to in post production.  Those getting headshots need to have a clear understanding of the difference between a headshot and a glamour shot and photographers need to know in advance the purpose and use of the headshot.

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The author, Jeff Remas in "selfie mode"

If you are a photographer, make sure that you communicate to your client where you draw the line with editing a headshot.  If you are a client, make sure you know the difference between a headshot and a glamour shot.  If you want to have a false sense of what you look like then a selfie or glamour shot is for you.  If you want a realistic representation of what you look like in order to make a good impression, then a professional headshot is certainly the way to go.

There is a clear difference between our perception of ourselves and the reality of what we look like.  What we look like in the mirror is not quite what others see when they look at us.  We see a direct image of left and right and when we look at others, the image if flipped.  Take a look in the mirror then take a selfie and you will see the difference.  Let's keep professional headshots professional and glamour shots and selfies for when we need to feel good about ourself.

Happy Shooting..........Jeff

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