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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Fashion, Editorial & Commercial Talk
Thread started 11 Oct 2016 (Tuesday) 15:45
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What are the headshot essentials?

 
NBEast
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Post has been last edited over 1 year ago by NBEast. 2 edits done in total.
Oct 11, 2016 15:45 |  #1

A friend asked me to take a head shot for their 6 year old's acting career.

I'm confident I can make a nice portrait but "head shot" specifically is entirely new to me.

For example:

  • Should it be strictly limited to head & shoulders?
  • Must they be looking into the camera or can the be engaged on some off-camera subject, like this (external link)?
  • Can there be animals in the shot (here (external link)) or is it strictly a pose.
  • Must it have a solid background or is "environmental" OK?
  • Is dress style important? Do you recommend their Sunday's best or something more "kiddish".
  • Finally; how the heck do you get a 6 year old to be animated yet not just silly while looking into a camera? Oie ve.

Is there another thread I should review? Link? I've done some Googling but I really need some advice from the experienced.

I appreciate any advice you can offer. Thank you in advance!

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nathancarter
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Oct 12, 2016 11:08 |  #2

Opinions vary widely.

Do you have any direction from an agency, or is this entirely from scratch?

Some say a headshot should be just a very close crop of the face - no shoulders, even. Some are fine with head, shoulders, and chest. I wouldn't go any more than about 1/3-length, though.

Make sure it's about the subject.
- I wouldn't put an animal in a general-purpose headshot, that's too distracting from the main subject.
- It can be a plain background or an environmental background - but make sure the environment doesn't distract from the subject. Not leaning on a tree or climbing on a tractor or whatever. You can have an environmental background that's behind the subject, well out of focus, and including no distracting elements or competing colors.

On dress, it's hard to say. Freshly pressed and clean and up-to-date. If a boy, if the kid has a suit and tie, or better yet a little tux, that would be really good. Otherwise, something that won't distract from the subject. (the tux might distract a little bit, but tuxes are cool)

On your other points. I generally don't photograph kids, but I'd like to assume that if the kid has the aptitude for acting, they'll be able to pay attention and be animated long enough to do a round of portraits to get a decent headshot. Don't drag it out for an hour, be prepared to nail what you need in the first 10 or 15 minutes.


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ksbal
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Post has been last edited over 1 year ago by ksbal. 3 edits done in total.
Oct 12, 2016 11:57 |  #3

Last question... Stupid kid jokes - asking about girlfriend/boyfriend if you know the child, and they have been around you some. having mom/dad doing crazy faces right above your head - sometimes toys on your head is a good thing.

Dress style is whatever is solid and not distracting from the kid. - it is about the kid, not the clothing. So something that fits to a T but is pretty neutral would be the way I would go. Id go with a solid background and not environmental, JMHO but I'm not in the headshot world. Getting the kids personality to shine thru is key, and minimal to no makeup or post processing.. fix a zit/scratch, but leave any birthmarks. No skin smoothing - no liquify and no eye color altering.

I'd google the agency she intends to submit to to look for examples and guidance.


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NBEast
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Post has been last edited over 1 year ago by NBEast. 7 edits done in total.
Oct 12, 2016 22:30 |  #4

Thanks All. I feel a little more grounded now.

ksbal wrote in post #18155039 (external link)
Last question... Stupid kid jokes - asking about girlfriend/boyfriend if you know the child, and they have been around you some. having mom/dad doing crazy faces right above your head - sometimes toys on your head is a good thing.

Dress style is whatever is solid and not distracting from the kid. - it is about the kid, not the clothing. So something that fits to a T but is pretty neutral would be the way I would go. Id go with a solid background and not environmental, JMHO but I'm not in the headshot world. Getting the kids personality to shine thru is key, and minimal to no makeup or post processing.. fix a zit/scratch, but leave any birthmarks. No skin smoothing - no liquify and no eye color altering.

I'd google the agency she intends to submit to to look for examples and guidance.

- Love the "toy on head" trick; I'm gonna do exactly that!

- Thanks for the advice on dress. I needed that.

- I got a link to the photog the agency uses frequently (external link), although I'm not sure if that translates into them accepting everything on the headshot portion of her portfolio.

nathancarter wrote in post #18154990 (external link)
Opinions vary widely.

Do you have any direction from an agency, or is this entirely from scratch?

Some say a headshot should be just a very close crop of the face - no shoulders, even. Some are fine with head, shoulders, and chest. I wouldn't go any more than about 1/3-length, though.

Make sure it's about the subject.
- I wouldn't put an animal in a general-purpose headshot, that's too distracting from the main subject.
- It can be a plain background or an environmental background - but make sure the environment doesn't distract from the subject. Not leaning on a tree or climbing on a tractor or whatever. You can have an environmental background that's behind the subject, well out of focus, and including no distracting elements or competing colors.

On dress, it's hard to say. Freshly pressed and clean and up-to-date. If a boy, if the kid has a suit and tie, or better yet a little tux, that would be really good. Otherwise, something that won't distract from the subject. (the tux might distract a little bit, but tuxes are cool)

On your other points. I generally don't photograph kids, but I'd like to assume that if the kid has the aptitude for acting, they'll be able to pay attention and be animated long enough to do a round of portraits to get a decent headshot. Don't drag it out for an hour, be prepared to nail what you need in the first 10 or 15 minutes.

- Re: Agent feedback: Here's what the mom picked (external link) from the 50 I took Sunday. Wouldn't have been my first pick but the agent's feedback was "more energy". Ergo my questions about the 2 shots I linked in the OP. The puppy was a winner.

IMAGE: https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-jRBQKxM/1/M/i-jRBQKxM-M.jpg

Its fine and I could clean up the background but I'm glad I can re-do - it seems a bit dull. We're meeting again Saturday for a re-take. Can't wait to put a toy on my head while shooting.

- Re: Attention Span. Lets just say, I didn't find the trick to directing this kid or holding his attention. The first 15 minutes went well but after that it was all about climbing trees and making funny faces. I got the feeling acting would hold his attn more but posing for someone who doesn't know what's wanted, not so much.

The gist of what I got from the Steve Hurley links is that it needs to be relaxed, easy, and let the energy flow.

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F2Bthere
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Oct 12, 2016 22:42 |  #5

NBEast wrote in post #18155557 (external link)
Re: Attention Span. Lets just say, I didn't find the trick to directing this kid or holding his attention. The first 15 minutes went well but after that it was all about climbing trees and making funny faces. I got the feeling acting would hold his attn more but posing for someone who doesn't know what's wanted, not so much.

The gist of what I got from the Steve Hurley links is that it needs to be relaxed, easy, and let the energy flow.


So set up a situation in which he is acting. "Ok, I'm the movie director. You just walked in the room and you see..."


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NBEast
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Oct 13, 2016 00:21 |  #6

F2Bthere wrote in post #18155565 (external link)
So set up a situation in which he is acting. "Ok, I'm the movie director. You just walked in the room and you see..."

Thanks, I'll keep that in my back pocket if I strike out on the toy. I'll have to think of a scene that would get a rise - something involving Ninjas or so. Hmm.

Like a poster above said, I have about 15 - 20 minutes to get the money shot. I need to stick with something I'm pretty sure I an pull off. Who can't balance a toy on their head while shooting? LOL. Directing a scene to a 6 year old; that may be out of my league.


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ksbal
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Post has been edited over 1 year ago by ksbal.
Oct 13, 2016 14:38 as a reply to NBEast's post |  #7

Have him act like his favorite action super hero? Then a smile/joking shot?

The website you show I see a lot of butterfly/ring light shots, along with different hair and face expressions..

So in addition to the hairstyle above, I'd try a wet/slicked back look on the boy as well. I wouldnt' do clamshell lighting on him (with that reflector below) as at least on that one site, I don't see that style used, and typically you do that on girls more than boys (or at least that is the way it was traditionally). I'd say she should choose 4 looks, and see if it is ok to submit all 4, as that seems to be what the other photographer is doing.

Nice center to upper catchlight is consistant on the pictures shown for the women and most of the men.


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NBEast
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Oct 13, 2016 19:32 |  #8

ksbal wrote in post #18156008 (external link)
Have him act like his favorite action super hero? Then a smile/joking shot?

The website you show I see a lot of butterfly/ring light shots, along with different hair and face expressions..

So in addition to the hairstyle above, I'd try a wet/slicked back look on the boy as well. I wouldnt' do clamshell lighting on him (with that reflector below) as at least on that one site, I don't see that style used, and typically you do that on girls more than boys (or at least that is the way it was traditionally). I'd say she should choose 4 looks, and see if it is ok to submit all 4, as that seems to be what the other photographer is doing.

Nice center to upper catchlight is consistant on the pictures shown for the women and most of the men.

I appreciate the further advice. Super-hero. Good call!

Watch the catchlight placement. Will do.

Doing multiple looks & hairstyles. If it were an adult actor, yeah. Laura Burke's packages talk about spending 3-4 hours getting 4 moods. For this 6 year old, I'm taking this bit of advice to heart.

nathancarter wrote in post #18154990 (external link)
... Don't drag it out for an hour, be prepared to nail what you need in the first 10 or 15 minutes.

The first 15 minutes last Sunday had much more energy, like this shot. Hopefully the props & jokes will extend that out a bit more but I don't think it'll survive entire wardrobe changes.

IMAGE: https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-4bBpMCp/1/S/i-4bBpMCp-S.jpg

Hmm, :idea:. I could have a bucket of water handy. After my money shot's in the bag (hopefully); "Hey kiddo, stick your head in that bucket and flip it back". Cold water douse = high energy look, right? :evil:

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ksbal
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Oct 16, 2016 10:40 as a reply to NBEast's post |  #9

:twisted::twisted::twisted: :lol: :p

Good luck!


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NBEast
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Post has been last edited over 1 year ago by NBEast. 4 edits done in total.
Oct 17, 2016 09:51 |  #10

Well, I got this goofy Halloween hat. Pull the string and the bat wings flap; shown here (later gave it to him). BTW: His favorite super hero is batman - that worked out LOL!

IMAGE: https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-cZrZbKQ/1/M/i-cZrZbKQ-M.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://photos.smugmug​.com .../i-cZrZbKQ-M.jpg&lb=1&s=A] (external link) on Smugmug

Here's his look when I emerged wearing it.
IMAGE: https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-srbTtn3/1/S/i-srbTtn3-S.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://photos.smugmug​.com .../i-srbTtn3-S.jpg&lb=1&s=A] (external link) on Smugmug

I got about 50 other "technical keepers" but I think this is the best of the lot. Its a toss up on a few though - good problem to have. :)

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