A Headshot With Personality

By Gerard Harrison|June 18, 2017|headshots, photography, portraits, Uncategorized|0 comments

A Headshot Session With Personality

(Or, Why Does Your Headshot Look Like You'd Rather Be Somewhere Else?)

headshot-photo-divorce-lawyer

Anythng But Boring

A few weeks back, we had the pleasure of doing headshots for Lilian Audu. Lilian is a lovely family law attorney with an office in Sugar Land, Texas.  Lilian wanted photos to use for an ad campaign.

As a rule, headshot sessions tend to be boring, formulaic exercises. That’s because most people wanting headshots are interested in spending about what they pay for passport photos at Walgreens, and they’re unhappy when a photographer doesn’t charge those rates. That’s a shame.  If you’re a professional who needs a headshot, then you need an on-line image that supports your marketing efforts.  You need to look like the individual you are (hopefully), and not a clone.  Lilian’s session did not follow the typical rut.

Showing Up Prepared

The differences began well before she arrived.  She found our free Complete Headshot Guide on the website and downloaded it.  And she read it closely enough to ask questions based on our section about lawyer headshots.  In fact, her questions led to our revising the lawyer section.  After spending most of my career as a lawyer in high dollar commercial cases with big firm clients, I had neglected to consider how different other practices and clienteles were.  Big firm lawyers may need that gray buttoned-down look.  A family law attorney who deals so often with wounded and confused women needs a much more sympathetic and approachable look.  A professional portrait is all about creating the right expectations. With Lilian, creating the right look came naturally.

Cover photo with title for the Image Theory Photoworks Complete Headshot Guide

Making the Most of the Session

headshot of female divorce lawyer

Wisely, Lilian started with professional makeup from our superb artist, Sarah Kate.  Sarah Kate gave Lilian a polished but natural look that was both professional and warm.  Lilian then donned a white shell and a stylish, unstructured jacket (linen, maybe?) with an elegant black weave. That’s a look that works on any corporate website, and it would have seemed corporate except for the beautiful makeup work and two contrasting strands of pearls, one black and one white.  Here is my faves from that part of the session.

Some Technical Details

For you photogs who are taking notes, we used a single light directly front and above the subject (beauty dish style) at about 45°.  The gear included a Paul C. Buff Einstein monolight with an Elinchrom Rotolux Deep Octo 100cm softbox (internal diffuser, only).  Below Lilian’s waist, we placed a silver Westcot Eyelighter, a large parabolic reflector that does a terrific job of filling in shadows and generally evening out the lighting.  We lit the light gray background with two more Einstein lights, outfitted with barndoors.  Underexposing the light gray background just a tad brought out the light blue undertones.

On To The Fun Stuff!

With shots in the can that could easily work for any standard business web page, we moved on to the more personal images.  For this part of the session, Lilian wore a black and white dress with figure flattering stripes down each side.  She donned a lightweight solid black jacket, and accented it with a terrific necklace of tumbled gemstone nuggets.  Looking much too smart for neutral gray, we rolled down the red background, a favorite color for Lilian.  Sarah Kate brightened Lilian’s makeup to match.

With shots in the can that could easily work for any standard business web page, we moved on to the more personal images.  For this part of the session, Lilian wore a black and white dress with figure flattering stripes down each side.  She donned a lightweight solid black jacket, and accented it with a terrific necklace of tumbled gemstone nuggets.  Looking much too smart for neutral gray, we rolled down the red background, a favorite color for Lilian.  Sarah Kate brightened Lilian’s makeup to match.

Saving the Best For Last

We did a few head and shoulder’s shots. However, we felt compelled to capture the killer heels that Lilian had brought, so we rearranged the lights and backed up for some full-length shots.  The longer the session went, the more fun we had.  The best shot of the day won’t ever be on a professional website, but will just go home with Lilian.  And that’s how it should be.  When a professional portrait session is working, you should get to the subject’s real personality.  And some of that results in bonus material to keep and share with family and friends.

We hope to see Lilian, again.  She was terrific to work with.

–Gerard

Headshot of female divorce lawyer
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About Gerard Harrison

With over 30 years' photography experience, Gerard is the owner and founder of Image Theory Photoworks, a fashion and fine art portrait studio.