Preparing for your professional headshot – Part 3 : The Session & The Results

Brhum Bhatia Business

In the final part of this article we walk you through a typical headshot session with photographer Brhum Bhatia of BBImagery.

In the first part of this article (Part1) we covered the kind of information you need to supply to your photographer prior to the session to maximize the effectiveness of your time.

  • Tell your photographer if there’s a particular look you like (send examples to them).
  • Tell your photographer where the images might be used.
  • Make use of the services of an MUA
  • Don’t try a new hair stylist, get a fake tan, change your make-up regimen prior to a session in case of last minute slip-ups.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Drink plenty of water.

In the second pat of this article (Part2) we covered wardrobe choices for images that should still look fresh and appropriate years from now.

  • Avoid logos, strong or busy patterns.
  • Stick with the classics, white shirts, dark blazers or jackets.
  • Keep the accessories to a minimum unless it defines who you are.
  • If in doubt, bring it and lets try it out.

The only thing that remain is the actual session. In truth, this should be the most enjoyable aspect of it all.

The session

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If you rush like a mad man to get to your session on time, you might not be feeling your very best when you arrive.

1. Don’t rush

As professionals, we all value punctuality, but we can all appreciate that life happens, construction, road accidents, railroad crossings, bad weather – if you’re running behind and particularly if you haven’t booked an MUA, don’t rush. If you turn up with shiny skin, looking frazzled and with your hair doing a merry dance, how many good images are we likely to get before we address all of those things.  Contact your photographer and let them know you’re running behind. Arrive relaxed and looking ‘studio-ready’.

2. MUA, therapist, conversationalist

If you’ve booked an MUA, you will start the session with them. For approximately 30 minutes you’ll be seated at a make-up table having a tea or coffee, while your make-up is expertly applied. But professional MUA’s know that make-up and hair is only part of their job description. They are also there to help you relax by engaging you in conversation. By the time you’re finished you should look phenomenal and be totally at ease.

3. Rinse and Repeat.

My process for taking photos is very much the same as the instructions on the back of your shampoo bottle. We shoot, we stop, we review and we repeat. I’ll guide you on posing and looking your best. We’ll then take a break and review the images (the camera automatically transfers the images directly to a laptop screen), we look at each frame and decide what we like and what we don’t like – is the smile too broad for a professional shot, is the angle of the shoulders wrong, did we nail it in one of the shots. As we do so, we get a better understanding of what kind of image we want to produce. If we like the shoulders and head position of a particular image, but not the smile, I’ll leave the image up on the laptop screen, you’ll get back into the same position and we’ll just shoot some more frames, with a range of smiles. This constant refinement process eventually leads us to a point where all the elements come together – pose, expression, connection with the viewer  – once we’re at the stage every shot is a winner.

I’ll be chatting with you constantly throughout the process, but instead of chatting about the images we’re producing, most of it will be about family, vacations, books, movies. Why? Well, apart from the fact that everyone has great stories to tell about their lives, I want you to forget there’s a camera taking your picture, I just want you to talk, I want you to think about stuff that makes you smile (“Tell me about the last great vacation you went on?”) – when you’re looking great and talking about things that make you happy, a natural smile will develop and that’s way better than anything forced or false. Don’t worry if your skin starts to get shiny or your hair starts to misbehave, the MUA will dash in and fix it and in a jiffy you’re back to looking amazing.

At the end of the day, you’re going to enjoy yourself, you won’t feel that you’ve been in the studio. You’ve spent the last couple of hours with people who made you look and feel wonderful, reminiscing about movies and vacations and funny family stories, oh and hey I think there was a camera involved somewhere along the way.

4. The best of the best.

Selection

Sometimes we’re looking for minute changes that can make or break an image.

Once we’re done with the photography portion, we sit down together and review our work. We may have shot 200 frames (that’s normal) but we’re just looking to pick out the good ones. So we bring up the images (normally 5 at a time) and decide which are keepers and which we can discard. From the 200 we try and get it down to about 20 or 30. That same day, I create a password-protected gallery of these 30 images for you to review at your leisure.

5. Can’t see the wood from the trees syndrome.

If I ask you to look at yourself in the mirror, do you really look at your entire face or do your eyes quickly focus on those areas that you wish you could change. It’s the same for all of us and it’s one of the reasons we may not be the best judge of our own images. When someone see your photo for the first time they are looking to make a connection – eye to eye so to speak, and if they don’t the appeal of the image can be greatly diminished. It’s hard for you to make a connection with your own image – you’ve seen it too many times before.

I encourage my clients to send the password and link to the gallery to their friends, family, colleagues or, indeed, anyone whose opinion is of value to them.  Let them tell you what they think before you make a final decision – their thoughts might surprise you. At the end of the day, your photo is there to attract other people, quite often strangers, to you.

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The end result is to make you look amazing, but still natural, healthy and vibrant.

6. Natural vs Plastic

No image is perfect straight out of the camera. In fact we shoot with post-processing in mind. Apart from the standard adjustments to things like exposure, contrast and sharpness, we also undertake a more deliberate process to remove minor blemishes, soften skin, enhance eyes and lessen the effects of wrinkles. We don’t remove wrinkles or lines, we just lessen the impact they have on the image. We still want the image to look clean and vibrant but it also needs to be natural and realistic.

7. End Result

Session’s done. Selection’s done. Post work is done.

When your images are ready I upload them to your private page and send you an email. You may get multiple versions of the same image (for example a version specific to LinkedIn, Facebook, Google or your corporate web site), I’ll take care of the techno mumbo-jumbo and just give you the right file format (size, aspect ratio etc.) to make sure you can upload them without a hitch. I drop a zip files at the bottom of your page so you can download everything in one shot. Really, really simple.

That’s it. You’ve just got yourself some stunning headshots and had a great time to boot.  A photo session should be fun, it should be relaxed and you should end up with just the kind of images that connect with the viewer and that display confidence and professionalism. That’s what we strive for at BBImagery; a positive experience with an outstanding result.

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