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Creating a Headshot Composite

Lesson 35 from: The Business of Professional Headshots

Gary Hughes

Creating a Headshot Composite

Lesson 35 from: The Business of Professional Headshots

Gary Hughes

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Lesson Info

35. Creating a Headshot Composite


Class Trailer

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


One Light Low Key Headshot with Male Model


Two Light Low Key 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


Lesson Info

Creating a Headshot Composite

Anyway, so let me finish this selection. Good question by the way. And make sure I'm grabbing that. And I'm just going to go around the hair. ♪Long beautiful hair♪. ♪ (sings wordlessly) And this is for that previous person that asked. This would have been a really good thing to sort of have somebody on hand, or just take a little extra time to mess with this tangle, but it looks like we're going to be okay. Alright. So now you see that we have the detail in that hair selection. So now if we put it on a white background, you still, you can see the white through the hair. How cool is that? On a black background... Oh, stop it. There you go. On a black background, see what I mean? Everything is there through the hair, so we've got a really good extraction here. So now what I'm going to do is hit OK and it's going to put that on a new layer. And I'm going to take Charney over here and add her to the news team. Boom! News team is now assembled. (applause) Or, there's more. So we can gra...

b old Oscar. Sometimes it's really dependent on how you want to put this together. Oh, you know what? Here's what I want to do. Let's not do layer, layer. There's a way to do this. What'd I do? Are you laughing? (audience & instructor laugh) She's like stalking him. Okay. Move tool, selection, layer, there we go. No, I do want to show that. Show transform tools, and I want to do... Automatically select the layer. There we go. Bam. That's what I wanted to do. They looked a little different because this is a newer version of what I'm using. If you have these two things selected, show transform controls, and unselect the layer when you click on it in the graphic, it's a lot easier to move stuff around like this, cause all I got to do is just grab him and move him and I don't have to go over here and select the layer. You got me? So that is a really easy way to do stuff. So let's grab the news team. That's a...I'm telling you, it saved me so much time. Boom. News team. And now all we got to do is drop a background in there. And the news team's ready to go. News team assemble! Alright, so let's edit Fill in. And now, whether they work at Channel Six or Channel Eight, or whether they sell for Century or one of those other real estate people that I can't think of right now. They can put themselves in whatever branding they want. They're not tied to anything specific. So if I want to put them on a white background, that's good. And I got to tell you, you'd have a hard time convincing somebody that they weren't, that this photo wasn't taken together. If you really want to get specific because the light's coming from this direction, you can actually create a shadow. So I would grab her, Command and Control-J to make a new layer. And then, let's see, I'm making this up as I go. And I grab the one underneath, and I bring her over here. Or you could probably just use a drop shadow. I'll just do it this way. And you try to just approximate the right angle of the light. And then I'm just going to do a color overlay on her of let's say dark gray, because that's, you know, shadows. Good. And then I'm going to reduce the opacity like so, maybe something like that. And then you can actually blur it. And filter, blur. There you go. Now we got a blurry shadow ready. There we go. That's starting to look like a shadow. There we go. Good. And then I would probably just put a mask on it, and then paint away the parts of her that I didn't want. Like this part. And then, you know, you can play with various versions of that. That's however you wanted to. But basically what you've got is the ability to create like a fake shadow here. And you can do that, or you can use the burn tool on his layer. Whatever you want to do. If you really wanted to go nuts, and create sort of an effect of her shadow being cast on him. It might be the easiest way to do this, and some Photoshop person is about to have their (stammers) About to have a heart attack. I don't know why that was so difficult to say. You could literally just use the burn tool, and burn it like there's a shadow on him from her. And now they look like they were standing next to each other. Has the news team officially been assembled? (audience laughing) Hold on, we've got to do this. We've got to do this. This is going to be fun, hold on. Got to select a really cool font. Oh beach ball! Dangit. Well, we do have... Go for it, while we're waiting for the beach ball. Yeah exactly. We do have a comment from one big girl on the chat room that says, "It's the Creative Live Weather Team who's saying 'Yep, it's still rainy in Seattle.'" (instructor and moderator laugh) In fact, we are actually having a beautiful day. This summer, the whole summer. Let's find something really news-team-y. Anybody know any good news team fonts? Here we go; I got it. Impact. That's a good one. OK, are you thinking or are we going? (inaudible question from audience) It's not a news team. It's time to close. Right to the top layer, and it's time to close. Take our little news team down here a little bit, and then we'll pop them in front of it just to show how clever we are at Photoshop. Time to close! (audience laughs) Now we can take the layer. Now you can do all kinds of cool stuff with the layer if you want to, just to create a little more dynamic look. So I would probably just grab a gradient overlay, which can be kind of cool. Let's see if we can make that... No, that box is just going to be huge. So I'll take the gradient, and I would do something maybe like that, and then adjust it a little bit so it's not so dark. We go there. Hit OK...OK...OK. You know, give it a little bit of depth, however you want, you can use any color you want, but now you got a news team. Time to close. Or real estate team. Fantastic. Well, once again, a lot of minds blown in the chat rooms and in our studio audience. A question that came in was what about if the background has a lot of details and different colors, and the whole idea was... That's a really good question. That we're shooting for this. It's easy just to say, "Well, then you didn't shoot it the right way", but that would be a really douchey thing to say, so we won't say that. The thing that I would do is honestly, there are professional retouching services that have people that do this all day, every day. This is basically, I can do this because I make it really easy on myself when I take the image. So, if you have a difficult extraction to do, and it's beyond your personal skill, pay somebody five dollars to do it for you. It's totally not worth... How much do you want to get paid an hour? Do you want to sit for two hours and try to figure it out? If you pay yourself 15 bucks an hour, you just spent 30 dollars trying to figure it out and then sending it off anyway. So just pay somebody else to do it. If it's outside of your wheelhouse, if it's something that you don't enjoy doing, there's no sense in not outsourcing it. That make sense? Yeah. We have a ton of questions around licensing and granting image use when you are giving these images or providing these images to clients for different use cases Absolutely. So, we talked about it a little bit yesterday, but tons of questions coming in on, you know, you have the $500 license fee, like what does that involve and if you're doing, say, a book cover, what does that involve? So, can you talk to licensing please? There's a really, really good resource at your disposal. If you're a member of the Professional Photographers of America, which I am, they have a lot of forms, including forms like this, available to their membership on their website that you can download free. That's one of the many benefits. So that's a good place to start. They're sort of templates, but they're not tailored to your specific business. The thing that you really need to do is, as a photographer, as someone who creates intellectual property, you need to have someone in your life. You need to find and develop a professional relationship with someone who does copyright and entertainment law. That's really, really important. Somebody who specializes in this sort of thing, and they will begin, they will be able to help you create the paperwork and the pricing schedule for something like that. For example, let's say if all I do is photograph billboards for local real estate companies, and all of a sudden Vanity Fair comes to me and wants me to shoot the cover. I don't even know how to charge for that. What the heck would I do with that? This is why, and I hate to say it, because, you know, attorneys, but this is why attorneys are there. And we have a friend of ours, and someone in our lives who we use as an attorney, and we also have resources through our professional associations like PPA, the Florida Professional Photographers that we're a member of, that there are other photographers in our group who do shoot these things. And I have many times called other photographers that are members of these associations, and asked them what to charge. So it would easy for me to say well this is x dollar you should charge, and I know this is a lawyer answer to say it depends, but it totally depends, and it's really important to rely on other people in the industry and develop those relationships. And those professional associations are one of the ways we do that. However, I would say that the basic scale of licensing is going to be the more copies of it that are going to be distributed, nationally let's say, the more money you should get paid for it. There are some cases, I have photographer friends that they shoot celebrities and editorial work, and they get a check from a company, a marketing company, for $50,000 every year for one image that they took like five years ago, cause they continue to want to use that photograph in a national ad campaign. But I can't tell you what those prices are right now, because I don't do work like that. I have a licensing fee which is a local usage, personal use licensing fee that we charge. It's $500 a day, per shoot, for whatever images we took at that shoot. Now, if that's just one of my corporate headshots. So if I shoot for like five days, that's a $2500 licensing fee, do you understand? So, if it's two days, it'd be... But that is going to be totally determined by you, your business, and your attorney. Don't just use my prices. So if it was for a book jacket that was a national distribution, or an e-book that somebody locally puts that nobody's going to read, those things are going to different. And someone, in order for licensing to work, someone has to be keeping track of how many of those things get used. How many magazines get printed with that ad. The thing that you never want to do, unless your lawyer tells you to do it, is give somebody a license in perpetuity. Always put a time limit on that license. It used to be a lot more aggressive. It used to be one year. But for most of us doing commercial work, we use that length as a negotiating tool. So we can give them a renewable license. Three years, five years, whatever it is. But consult an attorney before you just make any of those decisions. Thank you so much. Lots of questions had come in on that. Do we have any final questions in the studio audience? I've got another one in here, in the chatrooms, that came through. You had started, Gary, to talk about exporting for Facebook and whether it was a PNG. Right! And then I think you got interrupted, so people were asking... Do you want me to do that real quick? If you could finish that thought? Yeah, I'll show you. One of the coolest things that everybody's looking for like other software solutions to do stuff, but basically, I use Photoshop for a lot of things. So let me show you. I've really been wanting to open this image. Let's go ahead and just do this, and then I'll show you, it's a very, very quick edit. I won't even edit it. I'll just open it straight into Photoshop, and I'll show you how I save things. Now this is subject to change. This is not an evergreen concept as we call it in the Creative Live universe. Alright. So when you create an image online, the resolution is going to be 72 dpi typically. Some people do 96. 72 works for me. So basically, you don't need 300 dots per inch of resolution because it's going to be on a screen, right? And then, the longest side, this is Facebook-specific, I found that 900 or so is about the sweet spot. If you make it too much bigger, Facebook squeezes it down. If you make it too much smaller, Facebook stretches it out. Right now, this is 900. But, I'm going to take a look at it. Good. Now, it's 900 pixels wide on the longest side at 72 dpi. That's basically how I save all my images. If you go into the File menu, and you go down to... Oh my gosh, don't tell me they moved it. Oh, the new Photoshop. Export, Export as PNG. Save for Web! There it is. If you have an older version of Photoshop, it's going to be directly in that File menu. So, Save for Web is going to be Photoshop's built-in algorithm for saving something with the highest quality at the lowest file size. Does that make sense? So if you go to JPEG up here, it's got presets. I go PNG-24. Boom. Okay, then there's no other controls. This is a really good way also to put images with a transparent background on there. Since this doesn't have one, you don't have to save it. Embed the color profile. I always do that just to make sure. Make sure it's sRGB. sRGB is the color space for the web, as opposed to Adobe 1998 and a bunch of other ones. CMYK. And then, you're right there. So then, you're going to save it. It's going to give you the size. 673.8k. Hit save, put it somewhere on your desktop. Call it... "SEXYOSCAR1" and save. And at that point is when I upload it to Facebook, and I have found that, first of all pretty much every image you put on Facebook is going to look terrible compared to how it looks full resolution on your monitor. But this way, it looks the least terrible, and that's pretty much how to do it. Hopefully, that helped you guys out there.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

6 Styles of Headshots
Gear List

Ratings and Reviews

Melville McLean

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!


This was an excellent class! The class covered so much information and great tips and ideas. Gary is funny and has an easy going approach, which makes the class that much more enjoyable. As a struggling pet photographer, I have been trying to find something to supplement my business with that does not involve children/babies, or shooting weddings again and headshots seemed to be a great option. After watching this class, I feel confident building up a headshot component to my business. Definitely recommend this class!

Student Work