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Professional Portraits: Moving Beyond Headshots

Lesson 23 of 32

Dynamic Portraits in Studio: Men


Professional Portraits: Moving Beyond Headshots

Lesson 23 of 32

Dynamic Portraits in Studio: Men


Lesson Info

Dynamic Portraits in Studio: Men

So what I'm gonna do is, I'm gonna shoot Doug using combination posing in a very similar style, the exact same style as a matter of fact. And then, I'm gonna move the lights around, and we're gonna to change to something that's a little more casual, and show you something that's a little more relaxed. And then we're gonna shoot a team shot. Okay, Doug, how tall are you, seven feet? Okay, seven foot seven, good lord, the apple box is for me, not for Doug. Okay. So let's take a look at our combination posing. Right now, I wanna, we'll demonstrate, since Doug is already in this position, I'm gonna have to just raise my light a touch. That's a great looking suit. Because I want that bottom quadrant of the soft box to be the thing that's lighting him up. And this is a large enough light source, that even when you shoot three-quarters, that light is going to fall off down there, too. But the natural fall off is going to make his face the brightest thing, and everything else will go a little ...

bit darker as we go. And we have enough fill light to ensure that even the darkness of his suit is going to have detail. Because when people wear dark suits, if you're not using the right amount of fill light, you can lose a lot of details in the arms, in the legs, in any of the crevasses. You will lose shadow detail, and it makes that file a lot harder to work with later. So let's see what we've got. Boom, okay, that's better. So shooting straight-on, this is how people will stand in front of you. When you just, the default when somebody comes and they stand there, they'll just stand there. Especially, I recommend putting a mark on the floor. Doug is an intelligent, professional man, and he knew where to stand. But you get lots of other people with Harvard degrees that don't know which way to face. I can't tell you how many times they'll face the wrong direction. Or they'll come and they'll stand, people want to stand in front of the light. And they'll come, and they'll stand, and they'll face the light this way. So, draw a little arrow, put a little x with the direction pointing write in English, Spanish, German, and Italian, face this way, or whatever it takes to do the job, okay? So we're gonna run through a little combination posing with our man Doug here. All right, Dougie Doug. Let's do it. So, I want to demonstrate sometimes that if I'm having trouble with someone, or if I'm shooting large groups of people, I will come out from behind the camera, and I will get them into position without taking pictures. And I will do the posing with the camera behind me and with them in front of me, all right? So, Doug, if you'd turn this way a little bit for me, please? That's great. Now he's already going to naturally be, now, in first position, which is where we're going to take one foot kind of, a little towards the wall, and one foot towards me. Arms are in first position, just right, relaxed at your sides. And by first position, I mean combination posing, not the ballet. Perfect. (laughs) I want to get a picture of that. There it is. Perfect, okay. So we've got a nice edge light. Doug doesn't have long hair like Jen, so you will see a little bit more of that edge light coming from the back on the side of his face. It gives us a nice little separation. That's great. So, now we've got Doug in nice, relaxed stance, and now I want to talk about Zone 3. Let's tilt your heat this way. Good. Tilt your head this way. There you go, a little less. Right there, okay perfect. Okay. You can see the difference between the two pretty easily. It's not necessarily a bad thing. Again, if you're really big into traditional gender roles, you can make the hard-and-fast-rules. But if Doug is in sales, and he's a real estate agent, he could do this. It'd be fine. But we're talking a little more business. Rule-of-thumb, general guideline is going to be, you want, when you're photographing a man, you will never be wrong to tilt their head towards the far away shoulder. You will sometimes be wrong if you tilt it towards the camera shoulder. So if you want to play it safe, tilt it towards that far shoulder, okay? Or, straight up and down is 100% right 100% of the time, okay? So let's try a couple of things. Doug, let's go ahead and put your hands in the pockets. Nice and relaxed. So here's a perfect, classic example of what you want to do is, this is what happens, the tie pops out of the bottom, and so what we'll do is, we'll just roll the bottom of that tie up, and bring that over. Is it all right if I touch you? Yeah. Thanks, sorry, I should have asked before I touched you. All right. (laughs) So, especially if you have a fitted suit, and those are a lot more popular than they were in the 90s when people wore JNCOs and oversized clothes. And now, people wear stuff that fits them properly. And so, if you have a guy pull up his jacket, that tie will pop out the bottom a lot of times. Especially tall people because they can't buy their ties at normal tie stores. They have to go over to the section where the ties are 20 feet long because those are the only ones that will work for them. And so those will often come out the bottom. I usually just roll it up behind. And then, pull the jacket in front of it. All right, perfect. Okay, I want you to take a deep breath, Doug, relax those shoulders, good. We're going to go powerful. There ya go. Let's do two. One, and two, piece of cake. Looking good. Now lets try, let's get a couple of options. I want to think that he got so many crazy posing options. Take your left hand out of your pocket, and just, give me the old Bob Dole, just, yeah, nice and relaxed. Just right here, like this. Yeah, perfect, okay. Perfect. All right? Good. Now, Doug, put it back in your pocket. That's fine, not as Bob Dole. (laughs) It's like you and me might be the only people in the room who know who Bob Dole is. All right. Take your right hand out of your pocket. Yeah, just let that relax there. Let me just adjust your jacket, if that's all right. Perfect. Excellent. Perfect. All right. Now, Doug, I want you to unbutton your jacket, please. Let that tie flop down. Cool. All right. I want you to pull the jacket back. Put those hands in your pockets. Oh look at this, how many poses do we got now? We've hardly done anything. Now here's what happens sometimes is that you have a tendency when your hands are in your pockets for the pelvis, the Elvis pelvis to go forward. So what we want to do, is we want to make sure, Doug, that our weight is on our back foot, right? And then I want you to shove your little butt towards the wall back there just a little bit. There you go, perfect, exactly. There we go. Perfect. Lift your chin just a touch, great. Take a deep breath. CEO material all day long. Perfect. All right, so we've just got a little bit of a puff in the shirt, here, so I wanna, no you just stay like you are. I'll adjust you, man. Hands in the pockets. I'm going to bring this up just a little bit. Just so. Adjust the wrinkles here. So this is a little more casual than having the jacket buttoned. It gives you an alternative look. Again, Doug's in good shape. If it was a guy who, maybe, was more like, shaped like me, I probably would not go for this. But he's in good shape, so I can get away with it. Two. Does that make you feel good? (laughs) Perfect. There you go, all right. Now, let's try a couple of different first-position poses. Spread the feet apart. I want you to turn this way just a touch, all right. So let's do the president. I'm going to go ahead and button that top jacket for me. Good, okay? Put your right hand in your pocket for me. I want you to bring your Bob Dole hand, and just relax it right there. Perfect, cool, all right. A little more stiff than that, perfect. Turn towards me this way just a touch. Tilt this way just a little bit. I want you to pretend that you've got, like, a pocket watch, like a fob watch in your hand or something. Yeah, perfect, just like that. Two. And now, we're going to take something and put it in Doug's hand. Hang on. A computer. Here we go. Logo hidden. We're not advertising for anyone. There we go. Thank you Doug. Perfect. A little lower. There we go, perfect. Boom. There you go. And now, we have a little more actionable shot. Now that could be anything, it could be a computer, it could be a notebook, it could be a clipboard. Depends on what they do. It could be a lawnmower. I don't know, who are you photographing? It doesn't really matter. Okay, cool. So we are running through poses pretty quickly. Thank you, let's not show that logo. No logo. Piece of cake. Okay, cool. And now, what we're going to do is we're going to turn out of the light. Remember with combination posing, in a previous segment, we have four poses for the legs and feet, four poses for the arms and the hands, three poses, and without including the poses for Zone 3 which is the head and shoulders. We have 16 possible combinations. So if you know the poses backwards and forwards, you can run through it, and you could get, if you wanted to, 16 different poses. At the very least, you could get four, five, six poses easily from each person that you shoot. And you give them options. Sometimes when you're shooting in volume, you don't have the ability, necessarily, to spend enough time with each person to get that, like, ideal look, that ideal angle. Sometimes you only have threw, four, five minutes per person when you're shooting a high volume like this. So, if you run through and you shoot one side, and then the other side, and run through two or three poses, I guarantee you, you're going to find an angle with which each person is going to be happy with their portrait. Does that make sense? Okay, cool. All right. So we have, at this point, I think I'm going to move the lights around, and I'm going to show you guys a little more casual setup. So let's do that and talk about what I'm doing as I'm doing it. And, Doug, you can take a break. Thank you, my friend. Okay. So let me move these out of the way so y'all can see what I'm doing. All right, so we can take a couple of questions if you guys have any about any of that. Okay, go ahead and pick up that microphone. We'll start with Sharon. Stand up please. What's a comfortable amount of time for most business people? For business people? For you to work with them. It really depends on the job. It depends on whether or not it's a, like, it's a volume shoot. Like I said, sometimes I'll be hired and I'll be shooting 50 people or 100 people in a day. And sometimes, someone will come into the studio, and they'll book an hour just for themselves. And so, you can obviously get more if you have more time, but you should be able to pose, light, and execute a competent, professional-quality portrait in under five minutes. There's no reason why anybody couldn't learn to do it in five minutes or less. You know, you're not going to necessarily get your best stuff in five minutes, but sometimes, it depends on the job. I'm not always the artist coming up with the really clever stuff. Sometimes I'm just there to photograph their outlook email signature photo that's going to be 35 pixels long, so it really depends on the job. It's all about the intent like we talked about in a previous segment. Did you have a question, Marianna? Pros, cons, opinions on counting down: three, two, one, hitting the shutter button versus just hitting the shutter button. Great question. Do I do one, two, three shoot? I find myself, sometimes, I do it. It's like a habit that you can't stop almost. It's like ingrained into our psychology. But I find that some people, not all people, when they, people can tense up. One, two, three. (grunts) And so, most of the time it's not a big deal, but I would say that, more often than not, my hand's on the camera, and I'm talking to the person, and I'll say something that'll make them laugh, or say something that'll get a great expression. The best expressions and the most relaxed looks come out of a conversation rather than coming out of, "We're here to take a picture. "One, two, three." Snap. But I still find myself doing it sometimes, just because, and it's almost like someone else is doing it, and I can't stop it. But most of the time, the best expressions come out of not doing that. Daniel. I see you don't use modeling lights, and I'm just curious what tricks you have for those annoying guys who insist on wearing glasses, so preventing the glare. Oh, that's a really great question. Using glasses. I don't use modeling lights, well that one's on, but, as you can see, you can barely see that that one's on because of the lights we have in here. A lot of times, I'm in a very overly lit, corporate environment, or I'm in my studio, and there's a lot of overhead fluorescent lighting. Modeling lights are really great when it's very dark where you're working in a traditional studio setting, and they're awesome to be able to see what you're doing, but I know my equipment, and I know what it's going to do, and I don't really, and plus, a lot of times, I'm packing up quick, and modeling lights get really hot. I've actually melted the cover before on one of my lights because I put it on when the modeling light was still hot. And they also burn out a lot quicker, so I don't really use them most of the time, because most of the time they're not really doing me any good anyway. To deal with glasses, you're going to find that when you shoot like this, with the light feathered, and shooting across, you're not going to have any issues at all. You're going to run into issues, it's all about the angle of incidence. And so, however, I find that working in he corporate world, what's really cool is that four or five years ago, having non-reflective glasses was a very expensive upgrade. Just like when the DVD player came out, it was, like, $1000. Now you can't give them away, you know? Glasses, pretty much most glasses, unless you get them off of a rack at Walgreens, are going to some with some kind of anti-glare on them. So you're probably okay most of the time. If I have a lighting setup, that sometimes is the case, where I'm using flat or more direct light, and glare does become an issue, I will typically just do one shot of each setup, and have them take their glasses off. And then, I will just usually move them over and photoshop. It takes less time to do that than it does to move my lights around sometimes, so, it depends. If they're in a studio in a one-on-one session, I'll move the lights and make sure that I don't get glare. If I'm shooting in volume, and I just can't move the lights because it has to match everybody else's for whatever reason, I'll just fix it later. But you'll find that when you shoot with a feathered light like this, you're not going to run into much. You're going to run into more problems with the reflectors if you use one underneath, or, like, one of those eye lighters or something. You will get glare from that. But, most, and again, I'm photographing, you know, people who make money and work in a professional environment, and a lot of time, status is, we're talking about Omegas and Rolexes, and, you know, tailored suits. They're not typically going to have cheap glasses, you know. So it's more and more common to have those no-glare glasses, so it's less and less of a problem. But you can deal with it by shooting with your lights feathered. Okay, we have a couple of questions from the interweb. Let's hit up those. Darla, hi Darla! "What's the safest crop in camera if you aren't sure "what the future use of the headshot will be for?" Okay. So if you're shooting headshots or professional portraits, the safest crop to use is going to make sure the entire head is in there and both shoulders. You ever see billboards with people's pictures on them and stuff? You're going to have a, you can always tell that the photographer cropped it in camera when the attorney is, like, shoved into the corner of the billboard because there's no shoulder in the image. If you don't know exactly how you're going to shoot it, what the intent of the image is, if it's for marketing purposes, leave the whole head and both shoulders in there. And, again, they're going to give you key as to length. Remember that our file sizes are enormous. And on the web, your images are going to be, like, 5-600 pixels. So you can actually create a picture like the ones we were just taking of Doug, and crop that into a headshot without any problem whatsoever. You almost can't shoot with too much room around it. I tend to shoot for the crop a lot. But when I'm shooting, depending on the intent of the image, I will leave a lot of room around it. Make sure both shoulders are in there. We've got another question. Deweesej says, "Would have them stand "and then have to adjust the lighting and "camera height between every person? "Or use use a stool to keep the head heights, "lights, and camera relatively the same?" That is an answer within a question. Most of the time, if I'm shooting volume, I will shoot with people seated. Because you don't have to move your lights, you just have to, typically, adjust the stool. I will tell you, no matter how well you prepare, you will get somebody like Doug, who's 6'5", 6'6" and then you will get somebody who is 5'1", 4'11", and you're still going to have to adjust your lights a little bit at the end of the day. But seated is going to be better. You're going to be able to move people through a lot faster if you're shooting volume. I know you can look at Lifetouch and they don't, typically, don't do pictures of people standing. The kids come in and they sit. And then they move. And they come in, they sit, and they move because they have to put people through fast. I find I like seating for the convenience of it. But, where a lot of photographers break down, is in the posing, because they always look like they're seated. So you want to have people sitting up, not necessarily leaning or slouching, because it's really easy to photograph somebody seated and make it look like they're seated, and, to me, that really hurts the quality of the image, so, you want it be as if they could have been standing, and you can't really tell the difference in the image. And one more question from the interwebs. "Do you always shoot portrait? "What size and orientation do you deliver the images?" I do not always shoot portrait. I shoot portrait a lot. I learned to shoot headshots shooting for actors. And so, for a very long time an actor's 8x10 headshot, it has to be vertical or portrait orientation. And so, over a few years, landscape orientation, or a cinematic headshot became a lot more popular, and so those are more acceptable. And especially with the advent of the internet, do you guys remember when monitors used to be square? And now it's like 16x9. They're very wide screens, so I was just shooting a job the other day, a commercial job, and everything had to be horizontal, and it had to have a lot of room around the top and the bottom, because the banner image for the website is really long and skinny. So, in that case, shooting horizontal works as long as you keep head and shoulders in. But, at the same time, it doesn't really matter because, on these images, you can crop in to, like, the nose hairs, and it'll still be usable, so As long as there's room around the image. You can't uncrop later, so it's safer to leave a little room, but it also depends on the intent of the images. So, sometimes it does matter, sometimes it doesn't.

Class Description


Professional portraits go beyond the standard headshot. With the age of social networking upon us, businesses often have the need for environmental and editorial portraits. Not only will you understand individual portraits, but you will also learn to execute large group posing for corporate clients. By adding these to your client sessions, you can add to your business plan AND widen your target client outreach. 



Gary is super knowledgable, yet down-to-earth and relatable. I love how he explains the exact gear he uses but also describes ways to accomplish the same look using DIY and less expensive alternatives. The segment where he demos a live shoot in multiple, difficult lighting situations is worth the cost of the class alone! Bonus: He's super funny. He could probably double as a comedian on the side, but I digress. This class was informative, funny, and very practical for any photographer that wants to increase their profit and expand their business into the professional world. He gives all his prices and workflows so you can get up and running in 2 days! :) Awesome class overall, and it's a great sequel to his professional headshot class (which I also bought and loved.)

Richard Blenkinsopp

I love Gary's straight teaching style, and appreciate him demonstrating with regular people, not models. This is the real life of a regular photographer! I wish Creative Live could show more from the photographers viewpoint, so that when he's posing and moving lights etc, we see exactly what he's changing, and can analyze why... not sure how they'd achieve this in a live environment though. Loved his going around to less than ideal locations and finding the place that works. My favourite course on Creative Live so far.


Gary makes taking editorial portraits look simple and fun. I want to start shooting heads! I love Creative live and Gary is really doing a great job. I got to buy the class next. Thank you.

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