Wednesday, July 29, 2015

How NOT To Take A Headshot

Let me begin by saying that I am NOT a professional photographer.  I'm definitely more of a hobbyist with a purpose.

My first "good" digital camera was a NIKON D50. Then I moved up to a D80, then a D90 and now we have a Nikon d3100 and I have a few extra lens and flashes to go with them.

But I'm not going to bore you with the technical jargon...

I want to cover the basics.

My husband needed a photograph wearing his pilot uniform and because I asked him and my son to set up the backdrop and lighting for me...they decided to stop at the backdrop and do the job themselves.
To be 17 year old son doesn't take many photos and my husband wasn't "aware" that the ceiling light in our den would cast such an unflattering lighting across his nose, hair and wrinkles in his shirt.

I do want to point out how just a few simple changes made a big difference in the images I took.

First was makeup.

Yes, I put make up on my husband because he had some serious shine going on so I dulled it with powder. I also touched up the eyebrows with a light brown flat eye shadow because his eyebrows, especially the outer half,  has a lot of gray and that is just something you can't fix in Photoshop as well as adding a bit of make up.

He suggested I add some to his mostly salty Salt and Pepper hair, but I didn't because I think that's kind of sexy.


No, seriously, POINTERS:

Make sure the lighting is flattering to the subject matter.
I turned off the overhead lighting and opened the blinds. Since my son and husband refused to set up the lighting...I depended on the camera's flash to achieve Phil's headshot.

Don't...I REPEAT...don't stand close to the backdrop (or up against a wall unless that is the look you are going for) because it comes into focus and you loose your depth of field.

I forgot to check to see which setting they had put the camera on before I started taking the headshots. I would have thought they would have set it on PORTRAITS (I would have) but both their image and my image of Phil was taken on full automatic. Still, you can see a difference.

I actually own a portrait lens (don't ask me the technobabble) that is an 85mm 1:18 D that I love using. It just makes everyone look better but you have to get up close and do at least a head and shoulders shot or closer.

He needed a head and shoulders shot...that's what I took.

Thank you PHOTOSHOP and all of the other wonderful photo enhancing softwares out there that make us look our best!

I also used the bandaid tool to touch up some blemishes and gave his face a softer (Gaussian Blur) and did a color wash to even out his skin tones. Then I took an eraser and removed the color/blur from his eyes, nose, mouth, and hair.

This is my quick fix trick I add to the headshots I take for our local theater.

However, don't over do it!

I lightened Phil's teeth one shade lighter (Color Enhancements/Color Variation on Photoshop Elements) but when I adjusted the Lighting Levels...the teeth really popped! This was not my intention, but I did several versions and let him pick.
Basic Touch Up

Adjusted Contrast
The most important thing is to HAVE FUN and take LOTS of can always delete the bad ones!

This is actually an exercise where you have your subject blow out their cheeks when there smile is getting tense and fake looking. Try it! It really works!

Before you go...please check out the link on the German Shorthair Pointers. Travis and Gus have become and Internet hit with fur baby mom's beautiful photographs of this heartwarming pair. 

In memory of Travis.