Sunday, December 14, 2014

more advice for the most illinest headshots . . . EVER

Yes, I certainly did say ILLINEST. In today's digital world, your headshot is part of your resume. It still blows my mind when I see executives on LinkedIn posting selfies they shot in their bathroom mirror, in their pajamas. I SHIT YOU NOT.

Deja Vu

If you think your heard me say something like this before, you're right! I'm almost certain that I've mouthed similar words countless times; here or on the other social networking channels.

Listen up people. Don't blame me for this social/professional sociological shift. It's progress. Like it or not. Just as it is for an actor, the headshot-resume link, for so many professions, has become an industry standard.

Still, so many of you resist and post the default blocky face on your profiles. You can fight all you like but it's a battle you will surely lose. Progress. How many people out there fought buying that first mobile phone?

"I'm not buying one of those things. Why on earth would I want other people to have access to me 24 hours a day?! Where's has the privacy gone?"

Ha! I know a small percentage of readers know exactly what I'm talking about.

How about text messages? Shit. My mother fought me for years on the text message. Just as her mother probably fought her on making phone calls rather than visits.

It's all relative my friends.

So the headshot may not be a perfect correlation but it certainly parallels this paradigm shift. The days of hand delivering that resume spell checked and printed Times New Roman on the perfect 24lb. stock are just barely alive and in desperate need of a coup de grace. The web and more so, the web 2.0 are alive and well. Social. It's here and looks like will be here for some time. Your resistance is futile.

Time you should drink the Kool-Aid.


So you've finally decided your headshot sucks and it's time to step up to the plate and invest in the work of a pro headshot photographer. You scour the internet trying to find a fit but you have no idea what that means.

As you are here you've probably skimmed through much of my work on the [website] and [blog], you likely have notice a variety of work; most of it big and bold in style. But when it comes to headshot sessions, all variables regarding the style remains constant; clean and contemporary, modern and timeless. Most importantly?


Wether you're coming in for you corporate headshots or to audition for the next Justin Simien film, the workflow in the studio and in the digital darkroom are very consistent. Sure, there are direction modifications and slight technical differences but for the most part, I like consistency. Applying that global axiom means that the end user can feel confident to use their awesome new photos for their professional and personal needs. That's just how I roll.

So let's talk about that route to awesomeness. But first let me introduce today's gorgeous model . . .

Bethany Friedman

Bethany grew up in the Philadelphia Area and graduated from The University of the Arts in 2010 with a BFA in Jazz Dance. After graduation she danced locally as a company member in  D2, Philadanco's 2nd company. Impressively, Bethany has also worked internationally as a production show dancer on Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. Another global feat was her tour of "King Michael: a tribute to the Glorious king of pop." Currently, she is teaching and choreographing for Edge Dance Company. Oh, almost forgot to mention that you will even be seeing her equally impressive acting skills as she is laterally working across both art forms

And to think we are talking about versatility today. Bethany. The epitome of the word. I couldn't have been more excited to get her into the studio. 

Needless to say, I was stoked to work with Bethany. 

Nerd File ::

Here's a direct POV, the model's POV (Point of View in case you were wondering). 

Doesn't look too scary posted here but trust me, many people come in feeling like this monster is going to eat them up. 

Direction and being purely awesome are vital ingredients to any successful photo shoot. Being a douche will get you nowhere. If you are an asshole behind the camera, I don't care how beautiful the client is, the end photographs will tell a tragic story. 

I used to be a master technician behind the camera; able to light anyone and anything with a hard wired speedlite and a trash bag. But at the same time I was shy and had enormous difficulties in directing my subjects.

I learned quickly that if I didn't open my mouth that the subjects would have absolutely no clue of what to do in front of the camera. Nowadays? You can come in angry at me and afraid of my Betsy (Nikon D4) and I promise you will leave wanting more.

I have totally digressed.

So, what you're looking at is pretty much my standard headshot setup. Clamshell lighting with a boomed 28 inch Apollo overhead and a 40 inch, silver side up, Westcott 5-in-1 reflector kit from below.

And that shit is tight! Real tight. First of all, the top of the reflector and bottom of the softbox were inches apart. During the shoot the bottom of the Apollo was actually touching the lens hood. Second, the subject is up close and personal with their leading leg just about touching the bottom of that reflector.


Big, gorgeous and gloriously wrapping and super soft light. Besides the instant beauty produced by this setup, take a look at those catchlights. Pure visual deliciousness. YUMMERS!

Ultimately, one strobe was used to produce three light sources. Huh? Yes. The key from above fires the, well, key light and from there it lights the subject while also bouncing from that specular reflector which also is working to light Bethany's face. The third? I don't discount the seamless white background as a light source. Sure, it may be a tiny fill/separation light but a source nonetheless. Bethany was about 24 inches from the background, give or take a few inches.

Here's what the exposure looked like ::

Shutter :: 1/160

Aperture :: f/4.0

ISO :: 400

Power Ratio :: 1/8

As for post production? I'm a big believer of getting it right in camera as to minimize what is needed to be done in the digital darkroom. Sure, every RAW file needs to be developed and as a photographer, your "look" is partly born in post but when it comes to proper exposure and lighting and all of those slightly important parts of a photograph, I like to do my best to nail it IN-CAMERA.

My friends, editing some blemishes is something I do to 99.9999% of my clients. Look. I get it. We are all human. We all get a pimple from time to time. We all get hung over or smoke too much Golden Goat. That's were I come in and make you look your best; under the light and in the digital darkroom. Bethany? Jeez. She came in with uncanny skin. I could have lit her with with a gas station's bathroom's dirty as shit fluorescent and she would have still looked amazing.

So what did I do in post? Not much.

I had to crank the exposure one stop as for some reason Bridge is playing games on me lately by dropping the EV by one stop. No biggie.

Next, I noticed the white seamless had a heavy Cyan cast. I actually didn't mind it as it complimented her shirt well so I didn't remove it entirely. I just cranked it to about -60 and pumped the Cyan lightness to about +80.

Export to .jpeg for print and blog resolutions and BAM! Donesky.


Not sure how to close this one out. Hmmm.

How about something simple like . . .

AMF . . . those who know, well, they know ;)

My friends. Thank you for reading and stay tuned for more visual deliciousness.

Until next time...