How to Take Good Headshots ?

Models and actors come to life by their headshots. They are essential in the world of showbiz and fashion. Photographers call headshots as “portraits.” These photos make everyone look their best. If you want to know how to take good headshots, then you must stay tuned to this tutorial. It will provide you with a complete guide on the correct techniques of capturing the best photograph of a person’s face.

The headshot is the calling card of a person. It usually has the “8 x 10” of his or her face. It is so powerful that it gives casting directors, film producers and model agents the impression – good or bad. Without even saying, the subject will look bad with a bad portrait. So to help your models leave a good impression, you must take the killer and high quality headshot.

How to Take Good Headshots ?

As a photographer who wants to get as many jobs from your clients, you must know how to make dynamic headshots so that you can help them get as many gigs from agencies and producers as well. It would be a win-win situation for the both of you. You get a job from them, and they too get a job from their clients. In taking good headshots, follow these steps.

What you’ll need

• A good camera
• A model to take the portrait of


1. Clean your camera lenses. Use a microfiber cloth to remove the dust, dirt and smudge from the lens in order to get clear and vivid photos. If you don’t, you’ll end up with unprofessional-looking and unclear photos because you couldn’t see right through the lens.

2. Get started with the session. Focus on the eyes of your model. The eyes are his or her window to the soul. Nothing is more important than achieving the crispest and sharpest look from the eyes of the model.

Capturing his/her eyes is what will invite viewers to see the photo. Why is that so? The eyes are what make a strong connection and speak for the person. They convey the emotion of the model to the viewer. You don’t want to get a lifeless-looking shot, do you?

[Eyes: They bring out confidence. This is the main objective of a headshot. Ask the subject to squinch so that the top lid does not go down while the bottom lid goes up. It creates confidence, and it lets you capture wide-eyed shots of your model.]

3. Look out for the angles, which affect the feel and outcome of these close-up shots. You must make the eyes look larger and the face more delicate (women). You can do it by shooting down on your subject.

If you have a male model, you must focus on the achievement and strength through shooting the opposite – slightly up on your subject.

Why look for the good side? It is your job as a photographer to bring out the best features of your subject. Know his or her good side before shooting. You probably already know that people have their unique sweet spots – their best angles.
One pro tip: People commonly part their hair on their good angle. It is only one technique to look for the right angle. By being able to locate this sweet spot, you can be sure that your model will be able to show confidence.

4. Start with your model’s jawline, one of the most important features of your model that will draw in viewers to see the photo. The jawline can also make the big difference for the not so slim models. The same goes for in shape subjects. This facial feature will help you tone their features to achieve the best shot. Ask the subject to move his or her head forward to the camera’s direction in order to have their jawline where it must be.

5. Mind your model’s mouth. Aside from exuding confidence in your subject’s eyes, you must also make him/her look approachable. The model does not need a huge smile, though, because it will look “insincere” if it’s fake. You must work on getting a genuine reaction by interacting with your model until you get the desired expression.

6. Make use of a diffused light. The skin is the main feature of close-up shots. That said you must pay much attention to the skin of your subject. It must not have blemishes. To do it properly, use diffused light, which will wrap around the skin of your subject better than without it. A diffused light can bring the photo’s definition along the model’s face while leaving out the blemishes on his or her face.

7. Don’t forget the hair light. This is one of the most essential tips to remember when capturing headshots, according to the pros. You can place it above or right behind your model, with the sun or with a camera flash. Hair light will add depth to the image, while pulling the top of his or her head out of the background.

8. Check for lens distortion. Nothing is worse than an almost perfect shot that did not work just because of it. To avoid this mistake, do not use the mid-to-wide angle lenses when shooting headshots. To do it correctly, chose a lens, which will be able to compress the image and slim the model’s face. For this purpose, you must use lens of at least 90 mm.

9. Instruct on the expression. Know the purpose of the headshot. Match it to the facial expression you want your model to give. Your main role as a photographer is to bring out the most natural looks from your models so that they could also achieve their purpose (get a new job, a commercial or a gig…). Sometimes, it would also help to ask them questions that will pull out the correct gaze. In other cases, professionals also crack jokes, which capture their model’s best smile.

10. Ask your model to forget about the camera. The best shots are the most natural ones. Instead of asking him or her to prepare for the headshot and listen as you do the countdown before clicking the shutter button, you’ll do better by getting to know him or her. Know how he or she feels about him/herself.

So remember, get to know your clients. It is the best way of bringing that natural and genuine look out of them. Doing so, you’ll also make them feel at ease than intimidated during the photo session. Additionally, work on the eyes, the mouth and the jawline. Use hair light and diffused light. Finally, ask your model to forget about the camera and feel as natural as possible to bring out that confidence, achievement and power in those dynamic headshots.


Capturing headshots in the best possible manner will be one of your assets as a photographer. Grow your client-based through referrals from happy ones. While it takes some time and a little bit more practice in learning how to do it properly, mastering the art of headshot photography will get you a long, long way in your career. So starting today, you may want to master it by learning of these tips on how to take good headshots. Soon enough, you’ll be the go-to person for outstanding actor and model portraits.

Did you pick up something from today’s tutorial? We really do hope you did. If you find it interesting, spread the knowledge and share it on social media today!

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About the Author: Donald Evans

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