We are talking headshots today! Headshots are my JAM. I have always loved the process of setting up a shot, of getting the lighting just right to create an image that reflects personality, character and passion. Basically the role of your headshot is to capture your entire Brand in one single image.
Boy, as I write that I realize what a huge undertaking a headshot actually is. Well, I always liked a challenge.
Selecting the type of headshot that is right for you is key. To simplify the process we are going to discuss two basic options - Environmental and Studio.
Environmental Headshots are, well.... just that. You in your environment. A teacher might be photographed in a classroom, a CEO in their office, a librarian...you guessed it...in a library. These types of images tend to have a more modern feel and the context of the setting helps to convey so much more than a traditional (Studio) headshot. Environmental Headshots invite more creativity to the process. Lighting can be selected with less rigidity - we can use studio lights or natural light depending on the look we want to achieve. We can allow more contrast and shadows to deepen the mood or use full window light for a clean and airy feel. Composition of your Environmental Headshot is completely up to you, do you like a little blank space? Prefer a half body versus head and shoulders? Done! We can photograph anywhere - from your living room to a coffee shop to your car - there is no limit to what we can do. An environmental headshot of a baker may take place in a messy kitchen with a bit of flour on their cheek. Environmental headshots do not require perfection as much as they require personality.
On the other end of the spectrum we have Studio Headshots. Don't let the name deceive you. A Studio Headshot isn't always photographed IN a studio. However they are traditionally taken on a white, black or gray backdrop. Studio Headshots are generally cropped to show mainly the head and shoulders of the subject. Lighting is fairly even on the entire subject, utilizing studio lighting. Composition is most commonly a vertical crop with very little blank space in the shot.
I've photographed both types and there really is no right or wrong answer. It is subjective based on your personality and the message you are trying to convey. Studio headshots with a dark backdrop tend to read as more conservative or traditional. "High Key" studio shots are done on a white backdrop and are helpful if you want the ability to take that image and replace the background with something else later. High Key images are versatile but they lack an organic quality that might be important to your brand. For example, a photo of you taken on a white back drop and then "placed" in a field of lavender will never read as authentically as if you actually had your headshot taken in that same lavender field. This is why Environmental Headshots work so well for creating connection and relatability with your clients.
As social media continues to blur the lines between business and personal life, Environmental Headshots coupled with great Branding images become a natural and effective way to connect with your audience in a lot of situations. However, there will always be room for Studio Headshots, especially if you are a model or sitcom actor and you do not want anything in the shot to distract from your face. Some industries, such as banking or government also lend themselves to the Studio Headshot due to their perceived formality and conservative nature. However, if you are an artist, a chef, an interior designer - you should look at having a bit more fun with your headshots. A dynamic shot showing context and character will draw the attention and ignite more interest.