The Business of Professional Headshots


Lesson Info

Basic Seated Pose for Headshots

This is the next photo. I did not have a full-length photo of the seated pose, so I had to use one of our creative live production teams sit in for me so I could shoot it this morning. So, you might get a kick out of this. Sorry. (laughter) There you go! Basic seated pose. I want to show you guys this, and we'll do a little more later. There's a couple of key things to make a seated position work. Okay. Because people have to be seated comfortably, and I do, believe me. Thank you, thank you. Nice job. Alright. So, when somebody is in a seated position you're going to pretty much do it the same way. They're going to sit down in front of you, and they're going to go like this, right, and they're going to face you. Alright. So, let's see what we can do here. Actually, it feels really good to sit. (laughter) Okay. You want the hips to be slightly above the knee level. Not even with it. There we go. You don't want them to be pushing and you don't want the knees to be too high. If the hips a...

re slightly above the knee level you're going to have a comfortably seated position. Feet have to be flat on the floor for this to work. You don't want people to be on their toes because these chairs spin, but this is a comfort level. So, the way to measure the heighth, and you're going to adjust it from person to person, truly, hips slightly above knee level. Position the body 30 degrees off-center. Just about so. Does that make sense? Then you're going to rest the palms on the top of the thighs. I'll tell you why I do this. Because people do this, or they do this, and they slouch, or they sit however, or they do this, or they lean forward. If you take the palms on the top of this I want you to watch what this does to my posture. You ready? Forces my shoulders back, and my back straight. Just like that. Palms on the tops of the thighs right here. Now if somebody comes down and they sit with their hands in their lap and they've got great posture, don't mess with it. If somebody poses themselves correctly do not screw it up. Just like any good piece of information, know when to use it and also when not to use it. Does that make sense? Alright. You guys in here. What are some of the biggest sort of a-ha moments? I see a lot of things being written down there. In terms of that posing, just so far. Starting position. Sometimes you just don't know where to start. Right, and starting with the feet. If you can start somewhere comfortably. The reason I do that every time is because it's an easy way to start. You can get more creative and you can move around and you can do stuff, but sometimes you get there and you just need a starting point. That's my go to. After ten years I do the same thing every time I start because it just gets me warmed up. You know, like, your first shot sometimes are the best of the session, but most of the time you got to warm up a little bit. That's my warm-up because I know I can nail it, and it's easy to do. So, those palms on the top of the thighs will force those elbows back and will give that shoulder position good posture. Alright. You with me? And then you're going to go straight back, and you're going to lean forward. Why are we leaning forward? Because we've got to bring the head and shoulders to be the closest thing to the camera that we're photographing. It's going to work every time. Sit, turn, palms, lean. You with me? That's all there is to it. It's like school picture day.

Professional headshots are in demand! Learn how to break into this lucrative genre of photography in The Business of Professional Headshots with Gary Hughes.

Professional headshots are an easy addition to nearly every photographer’s list of services and in this class you’ll get up-to-speed on everything you need to know to launch a headshot business. You’ll learn:

  • 6 Primary styles of corporate headshots
  • The gear that gets the job done
  • Basic posing theory
  • How to get clients and manage inquiries
  • Retouching, organizing, and delivery tips and techniques

You’ll also get to watch Gary in action as he demonstrates shooting and retouching a variety of headshot styles.

If you want to bring home more money and book more business during your slow times, don’t miss this comprehensive guide to running a lucrative headshot business from Gary Hughes.


Class Overview
Getting Headshot Clients
Headshot Pricing Models for Individuals
Headshot Pricing Models for Groups and Companies
Payment and Delivery for Groups
Six Styles of Business Headshots
Headshot Lighting Gear
Posing Basics for Headshots
Basic Standing Pose for Headshots
Basic Seated Pose for Headshots
Head Position for Headshots
Expression Sells the Image
One-Light High Key Headshot with Male Model
One-Light High Key Headshot with Female Model
Two-Light High Key Headshot with Male Model
Two-Light High Key Headshot with Female Model
Two-Light Standing Pose Headshot with Male Model
Two-Light Standing Pose Headshot with Female Model
High Key Modern Headshot with Male Model
High Key Modern Headshot with Female Model
General Q&A
Constant Light: Low Key Classic Headshot with Male Model
Constant Light: Low Key Classic Headshot with Female Model
Constant Light: Standing Pose Headshot with Male Model
Constant Light: Standing Pose Headshot with Female Model
Setting up the Background for Extraction Shoot
Shooting for Extraction Headshot with Male Model
Shooting for Extraction Headshot with Female Model
Shooting Low Key Modern Headshots for Extraction
Basic Headshot Facial Retouching Techniques
Basic Headshot Eye Retouching Techniques
Basic Headshot Retouching Techniques: Dodge and Burn
Basic Headshot Retouching Q&A
Extracting a Single Subject
Creating a Headshot Composite
F-Type Headshot Lighting: Equipment and Principle
F-Type Headshot Lighting: Execution
Shooting Headshots in Volume


  • Gary Hughes is possibly the best teacher I have seen here and that is a very high compliment. His business analysis is simple and to the point. His set ups and techniques are simple and straight forward, no easy task in itself. His interactions with his models/clients are finely developed and reduced into the fewest but most important key exchanges. He teaches by example how to interact and direct. If you are a high volume photography with brief time per sitter, you might especially appreciate his tips. It is extraordinarily difficult to keep a tight, well structured class going live for so long at a time. His intelligence, wit and personality are all in his favor but it is the content itself that is most impressive. I am not a portrait photographer but I have 30 years of commercial studio experience. He knows what is most important, leaves out the rest and has organized the material in anticipation of most difficulties that arise so that it rests in a seamless, smooth, coherent learning experience. All of his practical advice is excellent. Just understand that his work is about doing a relatively large number of shots in the most efficient way rather than a lot of time spent on a few clients for a completely different format [presentation like very large prints. In fact he is especially pragmatic. He emphasizes that you do not have to own the most expensive equipment but you absolutely do have to know how to use the equipment that you already have. And I am telling you this as someone he makes fun of in his course with fancy cameras and Profoto lighting gear. He is an advocate of all thought out approaches as well as relying on skills and knowledge. You will understand how and why to make all of his key, conventional light and posing set ups. He makes everything sound simple and doable -- and with his help -- it is. What you have to appreciate is that it is up to each individual to acquire the specialized skills to make our work compelling enough to be competitive. The unspoken truth that we all face is that talent plays a key role as well and that it takes time to become every accomplished. But I have also seen concentration, commitment and hard work result in developing innate talents that blossom in very successful careers. Mr Hughes reduces every step into the clearest, most essential components. He is self effacing both as a photographer and post process retoucher but he is very good indeed and does not waste time overdoing images that cannot benefit from a larger format presentation. Everything is appropriate and practical. He has already removed everything that does not matter for his purposes for us that would only interfere with the concise, clarity of his presentation.
  • I am so glad that I had the opportunity to watch this course. It has not only provided valuable lighting set-ups, but also great basics for posing.!. The Photoshop extraction technique Gary demonstrated was icing on the cake. Gary did a great job teaching and I greatly admired the technique in which he taught. Thanks for a great class!
  • Brilliant! Absolutely positively top ten creative live class. Gary, you could have only told us half of this stuff and would have been more than generous of you do do so. Thank you. MstM