Posing guide (I): Headshots

I love headshots. I love headshots so much. I love the eyes glances, and the little smiles, or the big smiles, I love how you don’t need more than a simple look at somebody’s face to see how much can it tells you about them. They are simple (in theory), clean, and if well done, they usually are astonishing.

When you shoot a headshot, you basically need to frame just the head of your model, or if you want to a little bit of the shoulders, maybe add a little bit of hands here and there… but you can never forget the mai point of focus is the head, and the face and the eyes are the ones that have to get all the attention.

In this post, I’m going to tell you some tricks and tips I’ve read on how to take headshots, and also going to end up giving you four delicate poses you can practice with your family or friends for starters. I know if you’re starting as I am, it may be hard to you directing people, or knowing which are the best poses, or how to take the best out of your model, so it’s always nice to have some examples and cheatsheets to make things easier, right?

But first, lets talk about the main three things you should focus everytime you shoot portraits:

  • The eyes, the eyes are the main and most important part of every single portrait you’re ever going to take, if you show them. You have to make sure they are not overshadowed (careful with raccoon eyes!), or blurry, or out of focus. Make the eyes your focus point, and be sure they are focused.
  • Careful with the light, for headshots and general portraiture, we are not going to use hard, strong, direct light, we’re going to use indirect lighting, or difuse, or if shooting outside, we’ll try to shoot on the golden hours (sunrise, and sunset). There’re some pretty rad midday superbright harsh light portraits out there, but it makes it way harder, specially for headshots.
  • Lense for portraits, remember when we were talking about lenses, and what do they mean? We said that wide lenses are supercool for landscapes but they have some angle distortion, and that’s the main reason you don’t want them to shoot portraits. Will try to work with a 50-70mm lense minimun, as this lense won’t cause having as results superbig noses, and other weird and unwanted stuff.

Those would be the most important points you can’t forget and you’d think about when shooting portraits. The rest is just have in mind what you want to achieve, and try to guide your models to get that shoot that’s on your mind. Good things to help people loose are having music on the backgroundtalk to them also to get the natural expressions you try to achieve, and try to give them specific directions on where to look, how, and with what angle. Recall them if they’re not straight, if they have to pull their chin a little bit out so they don’t have a double chin, tilt their head slightly so they have a better angle…

And there’s where they come handy these poses. I have chosen four easy ones, that I found out are almost always a winner!

 1. Looking over the shoulder:

You’ve to pose your model so her back is in front of you, and you’ve to ask her to look over her shoulder to you. Tilt heads are always a plus, as they will add some movement, and will make the picture more dynamic. You can try to pose her hands on her sides, or the hips, though I find it useful to cross one over the body, so the back isn’t completely straight.

In this case, I was doing really goofy things so my sister would laugh and be able to capture this big, gorgeous, perfect smile of hers.

 2. Hand on the head:

You’ve to ask your model to sit down for this (I mean, I don’t think it is strictly necessary, but I found is easier for most people) and get one knee up, so it can be used as support of the arm. Then, you just have to play around with the hand in the head, and the hair.

You can ask her to look to infinite and beyond, or to look at the camera, even had her eyes close and looking down, that’ll make a wonderful thoughtful portrait, if well done.

3. Hand over shoulder:

NCK_7155This is a classical pose, and it usually works really good. You have to place your model with the body facing to a side, instead than just flat and frontal, and make her turn to you a little bit.

Once you’ve done that, you’ve to ask her to place her hands, usually they have to cross over the body, to make the photography more dynamic. So you can ask her to put the hands behind her neck, over the shoulder (my favourite), maybe ask her to pull her hair behind the ear, that always gets a natural gesture that is really nice in photographs.

 4. Holding hands next to the face:

NCK_7195
This one is a little bit tricky for me, as hands are always hard to photograph right. Is hard they’re not stiffed, hard and super unnatural. Then, what I do is ask my model to hold her hands, and get them slightly close to the face.

You’ve to let her face the camera with a little bit of an angle, and then put the hands close to the face. You can ask her to place them and play with them. If not, just cross one into the other one.

As you can see, the rest is just enjoy, have fun and make the people you’re working with confortable and happy, and above all relaxed.

Hope you liked this little guide, and this tricks and you put them into practice soon! I am dying to see your work and your portraits!! Do you have any winner pose? What are your favourites? Please, write down in the comments below and let me know!

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