The Business of Professional Headshots


The Business of Professional Headshots


Lesson Info

Posing Basics for Headshots

Now we're gonna get into the part that people struggle with a lot. And I'm gonna kinda try and simplify it for you as best as I can. Posing is a difficult thing for a lot of people. Especially when I said when I started ... and I still struggle with this. Posing women is tough for me, naturally. For some women they say posing men can be difficult for them but they're a natural at making a woman look natural, you know. The point is that, in the professional world you don't have to necessarily go crazy, it's a lot easier to master with just a couple of ideas. So don't let the one thing sort of keep you from being able to do this. And I've seen this, very easy to correct, seen this mistake made plenty, plenty of times is posing for professional head shots. And honestly, just the starting point is such an easy thing to do and I'm gonna explain, I'm gonna break it down for you. Start at the bottom. Even though we're shooting head shot posing is gonna start with the feet. If you start from t...

he bottom and work your way up you're gonna make your life a lot easier. Has anybody been trying to pose a client before and they just aren't doing it? You know, like, oh could you just (makes noises) like that and they end up sorta standing like, is this what you wanted? And it happens all the time. I just can't get over how much they look like a news team. Sorry. Alright, not a news team but they could play one on TV. I wanna talk a little about male and female posing. There's a traditional way to look at posing the difference between men and women. And I fall back on that a lot. But I don't wanna get into ... I don't wanna be overly stereotypical. I don't wanna throw gender roles because you're gonna run into clients that are gonna be an exception to every rule. We live in a world of amazing diversity and especially in the United States. So don't pigeonhole yourself into the rules. I wanna set down a couple of basic rules for every single human that works. But we are gonna talk a little bit, especially when we start shooting about how I pose men versus how I pose women and this is a sort of like general rule but you're gonna find exceptions to that. You're gonna find women that look better in a masculine pose and you're gonna find men that are more natural in what would be considered a traditionally feminine pose. So when I say that I'm not trying to put anybody into any holes. I'm telling you what will work for most people and I'm gonna tell ya that to keep your mind open for something that could come in and make the image better, alright? We cool with that? So here are the things that you need to do when posing. Analyze your subject. This is an art that is dying. And if you learn to do this you will set yourself apart from every other photographer you know pretty much. People, they have a setup of lights in their studio and somebody walks in and that's what they shoot because their lights are already set up. Look at somebody. Look at their body, look at their face. Look at their eyes. What are their best characteristics? What are their weaknesses? What are the things that you think they may not like? What are the things that they might be insecure about? Don't ask them (laughs) Are you insecure, your neck is kind of like ( makes noises) waddley underneath. Does that bother ya, you want me to shoot up into it or like, ya know ... You don't wanna do that. You have to look at your subject. I shoot a lot of people and nobody is without facial aberrations. Do you realize that the ideals of physical facial beauty are based on symmetry? Did you ever think about that, one side being exactly like the other? And so when somebody is quote unquote less attractive their face tends to be less symmetrical. That's sort of how it works. That's in our minds, that's how we look at things. Every difference in your face, your nose points one way, I'm not looking at anybody specifically, One of your eyes is smaller than the other, You have an ear up here and an ear down here, you could park a bicycle between your two front teeth. There's so many different things about people that but those differences makes somebody unique and can make them beautiful. So you have to pay attention to all those things. Cause I've met people that have some really what would be traditionally non beautiful things about them that they're really proud of. That's like who they are. Like a nose that goes like this, like Owen Wilson. You know that guy, the actor? Like my goodness gracious. You know, you could look at that guy that's a pretty handsome guy and it's charming and that sort of makes him who he is you know? I mean there are so many things that make people beautiful and diverse. And I don't want you to think that I'm being negative. But it is your job to flatter your client. And so we're gonna talk about that. Analyze them and decide how you're gonna light them, how you're gonna pose them based on looking at them. I, when somebody comes into the studio, not necessarily in volume, when somebody comes into the studio I talk to em for five minutes. Just, hey how ya doin, how's the weather. And while they're talking and telling me about the crap in their life that I don't care about I'm looking at them and I'm thinking, how can I flatter that person? How can I make them look best? How am I gonna serve them? Analyze people's facial features. Because if somebody has an eye that's maybe a little smaller on this side, if you put eye camera forward then you are visually evening out the two eyes together. And people don't think that. If you have somebody who's ears are slightly lopsided, with a little head tilt you can visually correct that. Here's a thing that might blow your mind. Did you know when you look in the mirror your brain corrects your facial aberrations for you? You stare at yourself for 10 seconds then they start to pop up but when you just glance at yourself in the mirror your brain makes it okay. That's why everybody thinks, nobody thinks they're ugly do they? Like you don't go, oh God, no. People go, alright, I'm okay. I look good. And then you see yourself in a picture and you go (screams) you know? Cause your brain's correcting that for you. It's wild, it's the amazing self-preservation of our emotional state of being. Our minds are incredible. But be sensitive to your clients and analyze them. If you are taking the time to look at someone and figure out how to make them look their best, especially when it comes to head shot cause you're really close to their face you're gonna come out ahead of a lot of other people. Flatter their features. This is important. Now some people, by talking to them you're gonna find out, are they confident? Are they insecure, are they nervous? But you have to flatter their individual features. If someone has a larger body you may take a slightly higher angle. If someone is skinny you might wanna shoot them straight on to make them look a little more broad, to fill up the frame a little bit more. There're are kinds of ways to treat people. Consider their position. This is important. By position I mean their job title. If someone is a powerful attorney who is running for governor or something, You're not necessarily gonna wanna make them look friendly and demure you know? If someone is a real estate agent it's their job to look pleasant and approachable. So you want to factor that into your lighting and your posing. A more dramatic light with hard shadows and a harder expression is not gonna be good for Martha from Century 21. But if you have a guy comin in your studio who writes mystery novels that would be really cool for him. Do you understand? Consider their position, consider what they do for a living to decide how you're gonna light them and how you're gonna shoot them. Listen to their opinions. This is the thing that photographers fail to do so much. If they tell you they prefer one side you better shoot the side that they prefer. They will tell you sometimes. People, especially ones who really hate their picture being taken, anybody ever some into your business or come in for a photo shoot and they just start talking about their flaws right away? Like, ah well ya know, I gotta lose 20 pounds (makes noises) they're telling you what they don't want and what they do want. And you have to listen. And if you fail to listen you're gonna fail to please your client.

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