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The Anatomy of a Headshot


The anatomy of a headshot is the composition and elements that make up a successful headshot photograph. A headshot is a close-up portrait photograph of a person's head and shoulders. Headshots are often used for professional portraits, casting calls, and dating profiles.


  • Framing: The framing of the headshot should be close enough to focus on the person's face, but not so close that it cuts off any important features.

  • Rule of thirds: The rule of thirds is a compositional guideline that can be used to create visually appealing photographs. To use the rule of thirds, divide the frame into nine equal segments by drawing two horizontal and two vertical lines. Place the subject's eyes along one of the intersecting points.

  • Negative space: Negative space is the empty space around the subject. Using negative space can help to isolate the subject and draw attention to their face.


  • Photographer: Talk with your photographer. They should be asking questions about why you need a headshot. Do you want studio or on-location photography?

  • Lighting: Lighting is one of the most important elements of a headshot. The lighting should be flattering and should not create any harsh shadows or reflections.

  • Background: The background should be simple and not distracting. A plain or blurred background will help to keep the focus on the subject.

  • Expression: The subject's expression should be natural and relaxed. Avoid forced smiles or stiff poses.

  • Eyes: The eyes are the most important feature of a headshot. The subject should make eye contact with the camera and their eyes should be in focus.

Technical considerations

  • Camera settings: The camera settings should be set to capture a sharp and well-exposed image. Use a high ISO setting to allow you to use a faster shutter speed, which will help to reduce motion blur.

  • Lens: A lens with a focal length of 50mm or 85mm is ideal for headshots. These lenses will help to create a flattering perspective and will not distort the subject's features.

  • Focus: The focus should be set on the subject's eyes. Use single-point autofocus and manually focus if necessary.


  • White balance: The white balance of the image should be adjusted to ensure that the colors are accurate.

  • Exposure: The exposure of the image should be adjusted to ensure that the image is not too bright or too dark.

  • Retouching: Retouching can be used to remove blemishes and imperfections from the skin. However, it is important to use retouching sparingly and to avoid making the subject look unnatural.

  • Should you pay for retouching? YES ! Make sure you understand the "package" you select. Does it include retouching? How many pictures are included?

  • Printing: Do you need images just for the WEB or do you also need to be able to have these printed or included in printed brochures.

Additional tips

  • Wardrobe: The subject should wear clothing that is appropriate for the occasion and that fits them well. Wear something your friends say you look really great in.

  • Hair and makeup: The subject's hair and makeup should be neat and professional.

  • Pose: The subject should pose in a way that is flattering and natural. Avoid poses that look stiff or forced. Your photographer will be able to suggest poses and give you coaching on enhance your expressions.

  • Relax: The subject should relax and have fun during the photoshoot. This will help to capture a natural and relaxed expression.

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