Title: The Mullins.
As a photographer you either love or hate headshots. Having said that… you will be asked for them on countless occasions. In my opinion, the more natural and candid the headshot appears the better the portrait. The more overly posed your headshot is the less of the person you are trying to show comes forward. So today I thought I’d share some tips I use when taking a headshot or portrait.
5 Tips for Keeping Your Portraits Natural Looking
1. Respect. A very important and often overlooked part of photographing people. Everyone who comes in front of your camera deserves respect, they deserve to be treated how you’d like to be treated. Having respect is a great way to break the initial ice, as well as put a lasting memory into your subject head… not only causing them to come back but recommend your services. Remember, a bossy photographer is not pretty - not even cute.
2. Remember the Hands. Hands can be distracting in portraits if placed wrong - my suggestion is to put something in them. Have your subject hold something or place the hands out of sight.
3. Pull Up a Chair. No one, and I repeat no one looks flattering if shot from below. In fact this is a sure fire way to make enemies with your photography! I carry a collapsable stool with me to every shoot and it has saved me a countless number of times. When people tell you “I’m not photogenic” 9 times out of 10 they are remembering a photo that was not shot where you are above the subject. Shooting from above not only adds depth but also slims and lengthens your subject.
4. Distract Your Subject. Don’t just sit them in a chair and start taking photos. Talk to them, get to know them (remember #1 respect), and get them talking. Any subject will do… the key is to get them comfortable. When you get their attention away from themselves it results in a natural look. Make them laugh, yes - joke with them! Some of my favorite shots are the ones that are not traditional. This tip is also extremely important when shooting children - you have to be on their level and not so adult-like.
5. Get Out of a Studio Environment. Nothing says unnatural as a portrait in a studio. I’m sure I will get a lot of hate mail over this one but it’s true. Taking portraits of subjects in their own or familiar surroundings makes for some of the best portrait/headshots I’ve seen. Having said that - you as a photographer need to find the right place for the portrait in their environment. Remember to keep it simple and clean. Think about the space where you are shooting and how you can use it creatively.