Many people do not understand the specific skills of a head shot photographer when compared to standard photography. It has it’s own set of unique specializations that are important to not only getting the best photograph of you, but doing it within the context that it needs to be produced and presented. While it follows the same rules as far as lighting and the correct camera settings for exposure and depth of field, there are an entire suite of skills that come into play with different photographic specializations. A photographer who specializes in graduation photos is going to understand the standards of posing and backdrops required for presentation in a yearbook. This same type of specialization comes into play with regards to head shot photography, which is the process of producing photographs to be used as a portion of the hiring process for those in the entertainment business. The typical process for being considered for an entertainment job that positions you in front of an audience or a camera will involve the submitting of a resume of your work and accomplishments, generally attached to the back of an 8×10 photograph of your face, either in black and white or color depending on the industry specific trends at the time.
Head shot photography itself involves the understanding of the photographer of the industry requirements for a head shot, while also utilizing the creativity and artistic eye that is necessary to produce an image that accentuates your positive features while minimizing your negative features. Heavily photoshopped images used as head shots rarely get work, due to the fact that the people assigned to sorting through them to narrow the list are trained at spotting the digital manipulations that will end up removing blemishes from the photo, but which will be present in real life. You must understand that the casting agent’s job is to find the person who is right for the position in front of a camera that will expose these flaws, so ultimately the photoshopping of them from the head shot image simply wastes everyone’s time. If it is a temporary blemish like a pimple or a cold sore, photoshop may be in order. However if it is removing wrinkles or other “flaws” that are present in your everyday image, it is not a good idea. Instead, rely on the skills of the head shot photographer to downplay the features that you do not think are your best, and bring attention to those that you do. The head shot photographer must also do this within the scope of typical poses and presentation that are expected in head shots. Submitting head shots for consideration that violate these norms may seem creative to you, but agents are looking for reasons to eliminate you from consideration. Going outside the norms of presentation may mean that you are difficult to direct, or that you are trying to hide something. Remember that your head shot is part of a work application, and not doing it correctly will simply result in you not getting the jobs you apply for. Hire a professional head shot photographer to get the best head shot for you.