Max Glamour's Guide to Headshots - MAX GLAMOUR PHOTOGRAPHY

Max Glamour's Guide to Headshots

What are headshots?

   Headshots are, of course, photographs that feature the head of a subject and while head and shoulders and torsos are sometimes included in a headshot, it is the face that gives much of the expression and message.

   Headshots are a message. In today’s online world, they are other’s first impression of you, whether it is on Facebook, Linkedin, a dating site, in a newspaper announcement, a magazine feature or a host of other places where a shot of your face can go. What is your message?

   Headshots are easy and not so easy. Selfies are easy. If they aren’t blurry, in the bathroom, with a focus and composure, without the telltale arm reaching out along the side, without a photobomber, in focus, well framed, conveying your message, then there is certainly enough camera technology in our phones and inexpensive cameras to produce a good image. However of the hundreds of millions of selfies taken, very few match a professionally taken headshot for quality and more importantly, message.

   Headshots that are in perfect focus with background, great depth of field, proper lighting, good post processing in a proper form and format; and exuding your message are a professional alternative to the selfie, and one that will beat the selfie 9999 times out of 10000.

Types of headshots? There are no rulebooks about headshots, but here are some typical types and uses for headshots.

   Stoic Corporate

      Think serious individuals in grey suits and their promotions being announced in the Globe and Mail. They are head shots, often in black and white and are largely expressionless. 

  Millennial Corporate

      Millennial corporates are less formal. They don’t say “my shoes are always shined” like the stoic corporate. They try to bring out qualities that the new economy value. Is this guy a team player? Does he bring a workplace up with his spirit or down? This is his first impression to most and it should tell you something professionally attractive to you.

    Dating profile

      We’re going to keep it clean here. But who do you want to know more about?  The fuzzy selfie or the clean, sharp attractive person with a personality?

   Social Media profile i. You would probably use a different photo for Linkedin than Facebook, but that is the point of headshots: to portray an appropriate face to the type of community you are reaching for. In Facebook, selfies seem to rule, but in Linkedin, potential employers are browsing or reference checking your profile picture and it makes sense to impress the right crowd with the right picture.

 Actor headshots

      Actor headshots have only one purpose: To get a casting director to call you back. You need two. One is “up” like you might expect for a musical or a commercial. The other is “serious” like you might expect for anything dramatic.  

      Both should feature the full head and this is a chance to show a solid creative expression. And make it in colour. The B&W actor headshot died in the 1990s.


      These are for successful students to mark a graduation or survival of another year. They should show something of the character and the spark that will develop, optimism, and provide a big boost of confidence and self-esteem.

 Creative portraits

      I think of this as “All other”. Not every headshot image can be labelled in just one category.

 How to prepare for your headshot sitting

   The night before your sitting, avoid alcohol and drink plenty of water. Get sleep and your face will thank you.

   Think of what you want to project. The first question the photographer should ask is “What do you want to get out of this?”, and of course your answer will reflect what you want to project. It helps to think of just 3 words you want your picture to say. Your photographer can coach you to great images of those three concepts.

   Bring a few changes of shirt. You may want to work with a couple of looks before you decide.

   Enjoy the process. This is you at your very best!!

What to expect during the shoot

   You’ll feel self-conscious. There is a big lens trained at you, lights all about, and you are on stage. You have to shake the wooden look off and focus on delivering on your three words. Have fun with it. It loosens up your face and your mind. After a few minutes you’ll move out of self-conscious and into comfortable. This is all natural.

   The photographer may take 100 to 300 shots. He will typically show you 50-100 of the best of the shots as proofs and you will have to narrow it down to the 1, 2, or number of promised images which will be delivered in final edits in the form you specified.  

   It is easy to drop the first 10. It is very difficult to select the last 3 or so favourites. Let it be a fun experience!

What to expect from post processing

   Post processing or “Photoshopping”, happens on all final photographs. It cleans up lint, blemishes, glare, scratches and the like. It can do wonders. However, at some point touch-ups start to take a little away from the picture of “You”. So don’t expect miracles from post processing. As photographers always say, “Get it Right in the Camera”

Delivery formats

   What form do you want the picture in? The main ones include:


      Online email attachment

      On disc, memory stick, or storage device

      Internet image

   The photographer needs to know the delivery format since each format has different requirements.

Headshots Come in Different Forms

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