The Business of Professional Headshots


The Business of Professional Headshots


Lesson Info

Basic Standing Pose for Headshots

We can move forward and I'm gonna give you some really cool basic posing stuff. This is the basic standing pose. This works for men or women. Let me show you how it's done. Body position 45 degrees off-camera, okay? So we're gonna go like this. With me there? Point the closer foot to the camera. Now, this is key. Check this out. This is awesome. So my feet and everything, my whole body's pointed here. You're the camera, you got me? Watch what happens when I point my toe at you. That opens my upper body back to the camera. So, I'm not shooting through a shoulder, but I still have the body slightly off-camera. Why? I actually saw an in-training discussion on a Facebook group about do you position your subjects straight-on, or do you shoot them from the side? The answer for me is both. I shoot them from both sides and I shoot them straight-on because I like to do that for variety's sake. But photography is a two-dimensional medium, and our job sometimes is to create more dimension to make...

it seem more three-dimensional, to bring it more to life. And so if you put somebody's shoulders at an angle to the camera, you're creating depth in the image. You're creating visual interest. Not only that, but I am much wider this way than I am this way. In a headshot, you've just taken away 15% of my body mass just by turning me to the side. So you have to consider the subject. If it was a guy who's real thin and he's tryin' real hard to fill out a double breasted suit, I'm gonna photograph him probably a little more straight-on. But your average person, 45 degrees off, bring the foot back, open that upper body back to the camera. Shift the weight to the back foot. Real easy to remember. You wanna take the ba-donka-donk, all the stuff that's in the middle, the belly and the bum, and you wanna shift it away from the camera. Because our job is to get the head and shoulders the closest thing to the camera. By shifting your weight to the back foot, you're taking the massive, (laughs) massive, hoo-hoo, the largest part of the body mass away from the camera. Are you with me so far? Good. Hand in the pockets or resting to the side. Here's what happens. People come in and then you start to pose them and they go, what do I do with my hands? You get that question a lot. So I literally just do this. Ladies who don't have pockets, you have to tell them what to do with their hands before they notice that their hands are weird. Yes, don't forget the hands. And if you just rest your hands gently at your sides, that'll be perfect. You with me? All right. Okay, cool. All right. Always be a mirror. So, let's do a quick exercise. Can you all stand up? All of you? How many people have struggled trying to get somebody to pose correctly for you? We all, absolutely. So I'm gonna show you how I do it 99 times out of 100. Are you ready with me? Okay, here's what we're gonna do. I want you guys to turn this way 45 degrees. Follow me. Good. Now, I want you to take the foot that's closest to the camera, and point it back at me. Shift your weight onto your back foot. If you have pockets and you can comfortably put them in your hand, just put 'em there, or just rest your hands right at your sides. Now, I want you to lean towards me just a little bit. And then I want you to tilt your head this way just a touch. I just posed eight people I've never posed before (laughter) because I am a mirror. Don't tell somebody, or even direct with your hands. Every person, I do it with them. You can sit back down now. I do it with them, and I do it so that it makes sense. I move with them. And you tell them, okay. Pretend I'm a mirror. I just want you to do what I do. So you tell them, you use your big boy words, and then you also show them with your body. Does that make sense? Once I develop that, I don't have problems directing people anymore. 'Cause just about any person, who has achieved sentience (laughs) and can talk, can follow directions like that. I do that with school children and they can do that. Four-year-olds can do that, so grown-ups can do that, too. Okay, so super easy. You have to be the mirror for your client. Whether they're standing, whether they're seated, if you're trying to direct somebody who isn't a professional model, you're gonna need to do that. And so the last piece is getting the head in the right position, which we'll talk about, and then I'll show you how I direct that after another slide. This works for men, and it works for women. Right now we're just talking about the body position, not the direction or the quality of the light. This is a photo to illustrate the body position. But I use it in many different ways, and it works for women, too. You wanna do the arm cross? Real estate agent, you know, stuff like that, works all the time. (laughter) All you gotta do is that exact same pose, weight to the back. How's it going? Do you know 50% of people can not comfortably cross their arms? They look weird when they do it. You ever seen anybody and they're like this? And you're like, you know, let's not do that pose. (laughter) Happens all the time, right? So it works for men and women. It's the same thing. Now, if you want to flatter your subject with the lighting is gonna change, but this position, you can change your camera angle, you can change your angle of lights, but we're talking just about body position. That is the pose. What I just did with you is what I do almost every shoot is what I start with. And it works every time. And especially if you're shooting 20 people, that will continue to work every single time. It's pretty good.

Class Description

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.


1Class Overview
2Getting Headshot Clients
3Headshot Pricing Models for Individuals
4Headshot Pricing Models for Groups and Companies
5Payment and Delivery for Groups
6Six Styles of Business Headshots
7Headshot Lighting Gear
8Posing Basics for Headshots
9Basic Standing Pose for Headshots
10Basic Seated Pose for Headshots
11Head Position for Headshots
12Expression Sells the Image
13One-Light High Key Headshot with Male Model
14One-Light High Key Headshot with Female Model
15Two-Light High Key Headshot with Male Model
16Two-Light High Key Headshot with Female Model
17Two-Light Standing Pose Headshot with Male Model
18Two-Light Standing Pose Headshot with Female Model
19High Key Modern Headshot with Male Model
20High Key Modern Headshot with Female Model
21General Q&A
22Constant Light: Low Key Classic Headshot with Male Model
23Constant Light: Low Key Classic Headshot with Female Model
24Constant Light: Standing Pose Headshot with Male Model
25Constant Light: Standing Pose Headshot with Female Model
26Setting up the Background for Extraction Shoot
27Shooting for Extraction Headshot with Male Model
28Shooting for Extraction Headshot with Female Model
29Shooting Low Key Modern Headshots for Extraction
30Basic Headshot Facial Retouching Techniques
31Basic Headshot Eye Retouching Techniques
32Basic Headshot Retouching Techniques: Dodge and Burn
33Basic Headshot Retouching Q&A
34Extracting a Single Subject
35Creating a Headshot Composite
36F-Type Headshot Lighting: Equipment and Principle
37F-Type Headshot Lighting: Execution
38Shooting Headshots in Volume