Ok, so this is not headshot photography but it’s not far short of it. It’s a portrait that is used to promote someone’s image and in this case I’m talking about the Melania Trump’s first official photo as First Lady.
What can I say about it that is positive? Not much really, especially when you think it was taken by a professional photographer for a specific purpose – to introduce the First Lady to the world. It’s obviously huge kudos for that photographer taking this portrait but overall, it isn’t a great photo!
So why is there so much wrong with it? Well in specific terms relating to headshot photography, it looks as though it was taken in the 1970’s by one of those ‘portrait makeover studios’. It has the appearance of Vaseline smeared over the lens to soften the light on the subjects face (an old trick). So there’s two things here, it’s dated and doesn’t really look like her as she normally does. The modern day version of the Vaseline trick is simply Photoshopping – in this case way too much, leaving her skin looking unnatural.
If you’ve read my new book The Headshot Bible you’ll remember that Chapter 20 – Be Yourself, Look Natural, talks about how you must look like your headshot. I’m afraid that even though Mrs Trump is a beautiful woman she doesn’t look like this portrait in real life. If she walked into a casting room they probably wouldn’t recognise her.
Another issue for me is the background, I don’t know about you but as I look at this photo I find my eye is distracted by the busy background and my eye is also led off to the top left by the big bold white curve emanating from behind her head and drawing my eye up to the left corner. Chapter 19 – Have a Clean Background explains the pitfalls of the wrong type of backdrop.
Her pose in this photo is shut down and intense, if you look at the previous First Lady Michelle Obama’s official portrait it is bright and warm full of personality. Though it too has a busy background, it is much more engaging.
In comparison Barak Obama’s first official photo is much more upbeat, he’s a man who exudes confidence and power – a man in control.
When you relate these two photos to headshot photography for actors you have to wonder what a casting director would make of them and how they would cast them from these two photos?
Perhaps President Trump should have read Chapter 29 – Understanding Posture in The Headshot Bible for tips on using posture to influence the viewer or maybe Chapter 26 – Feel The Force for some help in understanding how to project positive energy?
As I said at the start this post isn’t strictly about actors headshot photography but show examples of how even the most powerful man in the world can get his portrait wrong.
Hopefully you’ll read The Headshot Bible and understand the 50 tips in there to help every actor get the perfect headshot.
If you’re an actor and you want to have a professional headshot taken for your portfolio, find out more about my actor headshot sessions here.