Admiring TIME’s Best Portraits of 2016 I found myself comparing the emotional content of those great portraits with the that of great headshot portraits. The thing that struck me was that any great portrait has to have certain qualities within it to make the viewer pay attention to it, and most importantly of all remember it. One of those elements is the emotional content or emotional expression of the subject. That is to say, they’re not simply infront of the camera being photographed, but they are actively participating in the portrait.
The next thing that always strikes me is whether or not the subject is connecting with the viewer. This is simply that I as a viewer feel as though the person in the portrait is connecting to me. This allows me to feel as though I’m involved in the shoot or somehow feel as though I am there with them.
The final element is in a great headshot portrait is the injection of the subject’s personality, without this to tie together all of the other compositional elemnts such as location, lighting and pose the portrait can feel disjointed and a touch flat.
- Emotional content
So when you apply these points to to headshot portraits you can see ‘average’ headshot portraits will be lifted to another level. They’ll have what I call, the WOW Factor!
Often when looking at headshot portraits you’ll realise that you’ll instantly like or dislike them. Or maybe yu’re are attracted to look more deeply or simply skip past them. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a portrait of a CEO or a photo of a sportsperson. The things that draws you into the photograph are those three elements I’ve mentioned above.
This is something that the portrait photographer can’t do by themselves, sure we all possess the technical skills to frame, compose and light the portrait. But without the help and active participation of the subject it can be difficult to draw out their personality and engagement.
One of the reasons I encourage my subjects to look at the photos as we shoot them is to help overcome the natural fears ‘normal people’ – by that I mean people who aren’t used to being in front of the camera on a regular basis such as; celebrities, actors, performers and sports stars – have at being in front of a camera.
Once they see that they actually look pretty good and the feelings of insecurity they may felt at being the focus of attention. They often relax more, therefore engage more and feel comfortable enough to express their personality.
The Visual World
In a world that is visually driven and one where image is everything, putting out the correct image conveys so much about you. Do you want the viewer’s impression to be that you’re fun,or that you’re serious? Perhaps you want to send out the message that you’re professional or that you’re cultured? The age old saying of ‘a picture is worth a thousand words‘ is absolutely true.
Think of the times we’ve heard about employers questioning canditates suitability after viewing images online!
And finally to finish off, when you are researching a photographer that shoots headshot portraits. Make sure you take a good look at their work and look for the qualities above. If you can’t see them maybe they’re not the best person for your job! It is crucial they can deliver the kind of photograph (image) you want others to see of you.