It's called "slicing" and it's what we do, in an instant, to work out what people are all about, in photos, and in real life
Here's Zoe Boston, Transformational coach working in St. Albans but changing lives all over the place (she really does do that)
What the photo says explicitly
1. She's probably in her late thirties, early forties, has some life experience
2. She's relaxed
3. She's sporty or at least interested in exercise, she's wearing exercise clothes
4. She's warm but has a serious quality about her
5. She's comfortable in the elements
6. The photo looks real, neither the photo, nor Zoe, have been enhanced. What you see is what you get
Here's what we will infer from her photograph
The photograph is taken outside, no filters, no retouching
1. She's natural
2. She's real
3. She's not trying to hide anything, has no need to
Her seated pose
1. She's wise (Buddha)
2. She's open
3. She's not trying to impress by a raised stature, she has humility
4. She's comfortable in herself
5. She's approachable
1. The two kinds of weather in the photograph, sun and rain, suggest the darkness and lightness of life and how they are intertwined and she sits within them. Unfazed by them.
2. The light is coming from behind her, creating a subtle aura. She is in control of the light. It waits its turn behind her and that is why, despite being seated, she looks powerful.
I could carry on but you definitely get the picture. We all do.
Take your website photographs seriously. Or get me to.
What we infer (bearing in mind inference is one hundred times more powerful than being told something) from this photo of Lucie Muir
Lucie has a dry and playful sense of humour. She is not a dry-stick-po-faced-unbending sort of a journalist. She is nice to work with.
The Curtain of Hair
Like many fine writers, Lucie does not especially want her face to be a big part of the work she does. She only reluctantly agreed to have a photo on the website I made for her, but this photo says that her clients are more important than she is, she's not a show-off or an extra-large ego. That's quite important (and rare?) in the luxury fashion industry.
We infer she is easy to work with.
Books in the background
They are blurred, we don't notice them but we connect literary with Lucie without even knowing we're doing it (thank you Waterstones Lewes).
Your profile shot is your portal. Make sure it's saying the right (and the best) things about you.
Sharon Lloyd-Lewes is an experienced actress and she is no longer twenty five. The signs of this on her face are helpful when explaining who she is to those who might want to cast her. Wiping those signs off in post production, is not.
I photographed this incredibly bubbly, extremely attractive actress on a bright, sunny day in a shadowed corner. The brightness of the day filled the shadowed area with soft, reflected light. We added a little reflecting panel under her chin, which she held.
That's it. There is no retouching in this photograph. The light is enhancing and any dark, potentially ageing, shadows are taken away by the gentle, diffused light in the shadows and a reflector held by Sharon, at chest level.
Beautiful, but honest. How we like it.
Sharon Lloyd-Lewes can be contacted at email@example.com
The reflector. Mine have been with me all my photographing life (and they look like that have). I would be lost without them. On tricky light days they even out skin tones, soften the skin, brighten the eyes, most of which is desirable when photographing to please.
The late afternoon light here was fairly soft but the reflector took any shadows away from these (admittedly unflawed) young faces. The resulting evenness in tone makes the faces look even fresher. Thanks to the girls at Axtell Hairdressing in Lewes.
4 Station Street, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 2DA
What people need to know is what it feels like to work with you. Text works well, carefully chosen words will help give a feel for what you're about. But photographs do it instantly.
The vitality of these photographs reflects the hugely positive energy of the Vox Coaching team which they bring to their work.
If you need to know more contact Pete Bailie at Vox Coaching to find out more about they do.
Every actor has to choose what he or she presents to the world. Our personalities are so complex it is impossible to put all of it into one shot.
So choose. An empty page is just that, empty. Casting people need something to work with so allow your headshot to tell a story, commit yourself to a feeling, an emotion or an energy, and let them do the rest.
With many thanks to Esmeralda Dabson for lending her beautiful and versatile face to my blog.
Contact Esmeralda at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ambiguity works. This is a highly succesful shot of this versatile actor because of its versatility. Any label will work here, "kind dad", "best friend of hero", "suspect in murder investigation".
We don't know quite what's going on here with this man and it's that mystery which makes the photograph interesting. It also makes it stand out from other photographs where the message is more obvious.
We don't know what to make of him, we want to know more. That's good.
Stephanie Jacob has a lovely face. She is twinkly and she is warm. She's also funny, articulate, bright, has good sense and is well read. You can tell a great deal of this from her photograph.
She doesn't normally wear make-up so didn't for the shoot and there is no photoshop 'make-up' at all.
When Stephanie turns up for her next audition, the one where the casting people asked her to come along on the basis of this photograph, they will be delighted and relieved that what they saw, was what they got.
Mark Vahrmeyer needed headshots for his Brighton Psychotherapy practice website. We covered a range of expressions, many of them showing him as friendly and approachable which is generally considered a good thing for a therapist.
But this is the shot I liked the most. He's a serious man who thinks profoundly about his work.
By cropping everything away, the emphasis of the shot is his eyes. We are left with an impression of intelligence, thoughtfulness and focus. It's a powerful and unusual therapists headshot.
Laurence Brown's session was partly for his modelling portfolio and partly to get some headshots. It was about 9.00am in the morning, bright overcast (perfect portrait light) and I posed him by some black shutters outside a bookshop.
You can see how his jawline and cheekbones have a very pleasing definition, thanks to the large expanse of black next to him.
In contrast, placed next to a white wall the effect is lighter, softer and more youthful.
Colour is much more challenging in a headshot so range of tones need to be limited.
Aside from being one of the nicest people around, Sian has ageless skin and wonderful coppery hair. The colours chosen for backgrounds make the most of her colouring, they're either complimentary or contrasting colours or, in the case of the last shot, no colour at all.
This shot covers everything. The beautiful range of elegant millinery and the two milliners responsible for it; quirky, warm, a fascinating partnership. The image achievies much more than words could have done
Lomax and Skinner, Lewes
Many people become very self-conscious when the shooting starts. This is a natural reaction to the intense scrutiny of the camera so it is essential that you distract them from themselves. Keep up a constant stream of directions, reassurance, flattery, whatever you can come up with, but don't let the flow stop
Keep their posture strong. Straight back, long neck, relaxed shoulders. I like people to look straight into the camera, as they would in a real life conversation. Turning the head to the side may work for modelling shots but it's artificial. If you want real, it's best avoided
Make them feel good
The most important one. Enjoy them. Very often photographers are being asked to bring out the best in their subjects. Find that. The beautiful jawline, the twinkly eyes, that they are funny, or interesting, or being brave. There is always something to like about someone and when people feel liked, the grow in confidence and it shows
There are so many ways to do this but here's five essential ones to start off with
Look like you know what you are doing
Be totally in charge of the technical stuff. Work out things like lighting and location before they arrive. Your confidence in your operations will give them confidence
Listen to them
There is nothing more calming and reassuring than being properly listened to. Good, steady eye contact. Time for them to talk, not rushing them. Showing genuine interest in who they are
One of the main jobs of a skilful photographer is to make you look like you know what you're doing.
If this doesn't happen, it doesn't matter how beautiful you are or how clever the lighting is, people just won't buy it. Whatever it is.
It can also be the hardest job, so many people really don't like being photographed. But it's essential and it's the photographer's problem, not yours
And of course it's all in the eyes.
My next post will be on how to make people look confident. Five top tips.
If you're on the web because you have something for which you are asking people to hand over their money, whether it's goods or services, you need to look trustworthy. To look trusthworthy, you have to look real.
This is particularly true of a therapist. Any kind of person who is offering personal help for money needs to make us feel that they're not just doing it for the money, they actually care about their work, they are genuine and they care about the people who come to them
A therapist headshot needs to be open and honest, it needs to be warm. It needs to be real.
Many thanks to the therapists at Cliffe Complementary Health Clinic in Lewes for allowing me to use their headshots taken yesterday in Lewes