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Basic Standing Pose for Headshots

Lesson 9 from: The Business of Professional Headshots

Gary Hughes

Basic Standing Pose for Headshots

Lesson 9 from: The Business of Professional Headshots

Gary Hughes

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Lesson Info

9. Basic Standing Pose for Headshots


Class Trailer

Class Overview


Getting Headshot Clients


Headshot Pricing Models for Individuals


Headshot Pricing Models for Groups and Companies


Payment and Delivery for Groups


Six Styles of Business Headshots


Headshot Lighting Gear


Posing Basics for Headshots


Basic Standing Pose for Headshots


Basic Seated Pose for Headshots


Head Position for Headshots


Expression Sells the Image


One-Light High Key Headshot with Male Model


One-Light High Key Headshot with Female Model


Two-Light High Key Headshot with Male Model


Two-Light High Key Headshot with Female Model


Two-Light Standing Pose Headshot with Male Model


Two-Light Standing Pose Headshot with Female Model


One Light Low Key Headshot with Male Model


Two Light Low Key Headshot with Female Model


General Q&A


Constant Light: Low Key Classic Headshot with Male Model


Constant Light: Low Key Classic Headshot with Female Model


Constant Light: Standing Pose Headshot with Male Model


Constant Light: Standing Pose Headshot with Female Model


Setting up the Background for Extraction Shoot


Shooting for Extraction Headshot with Male Model


Shooting for Extraction Headshot with Female Model


Shooting Low Key Modern Headshots for Extraction


Basic Headshot Facial Retouching Techniques


Basic Headshot Eye Retouching Techniques


Basic Headshot Retouching Techniques: Dodge and Burn


Basic Headshot Retouching Q&A


Extracting a Single Subject


Creating a Headshot Composite


F-Type Headshot Lighting: Equipment and Principle


F-Type Headshot Lighting: Execution


Shooting Headshots in Volume


Lesson Info

Basic Standing Pose for Headshots

We can move forward and I'm gonna give you some really cool basic posing stuff. This is the basic standing pose. This works for men or women. Let me show you how it's done. Body position 45 degrees off-camera, okay? So we're gonna go like this. With me there? Point the closer foot to the camera. Now, this is key. Check this out. This is awesome. So my feet and everything, my whole body's pointed here. You're the camera, you got me? Watch what happens when I point my toe at you. That opens my upper body back to the camera. So, I'm not shooting through a shoulder, but I still have the body slightly off-camera. Why? I actually saw an in-training discussion on a Facebook group about do you position your subjects straight-on, or do you shoot them from the side? The answer for me is both. I shoot them from both sides and I shoot them straight-on because I like to do that for variety's sake. But photography is a two-dimensional medium, and our job sometimes is to create more dimension to make...

it seem more three-dimensional, to bring it more to life. And so if you put somebody's shoulders at an angle to the camera, you're creating depth in the image. You're creating visual interest. Not only that, but I am much wider this way than I am this way. In a headshot, you've just taken away 15% of my body mass just by turning me to the side. So you have to consider the subject. If it was a guy who's real thin and he's tryin' real hard to fill out a double breasted suit, I'm gonna photograph him probably a little more straight-on. But your average person, 45 degrees off, bring the foot back, open that upper body back to the camera. Shift the weight to the back foot. Real easy to remember. You wanna take the ba-donka-donk, all the stuff that's in the middle, the belly and the bum, and you wanna shift it away from the camera. Because our job is to get the head and shoulders the closest thing to the camera. By shifting your weight to the back foot, you're taking the massive, (laughs) massive, hoo-hoo, the largest part of the body mass away from the camera. Are you with me so far? Good. Hand in the pockets or resting to the side. Here's what happens. People come in and then you start to pose them and they go, what do I do with my hands? You get that question a lot. So I literally just do this. Ladies who don't have pockets, you have to tell them what to do with their hands before they notice that their hands are weird. Yes, don't forget the hands. And if you just rest your hands gently at your sides, that'll be perfect. You with me? All right. Okay, cool. All right. Always be a mirror. So, let's do a quick exercise. Can you all stand up? All of you? How many people have struggled trying to get somebody to pose correctly for you? We all, absolutely. So I'm gonna show you how I do it 99 times out of 100. Are you ready with me? Okay, here's what we're gonna do. I want you guys to turn this way 45 degrees. Follow me. Good. Now, I want you to take the foot that's closest to the camera, and point it back at me. Shift your weight onto your back foot. If you have pockets and you can comfortably put them in your hand, just put 'em there, or just rest your hands right at your sides. Now, I want you to lean towards me just a little bit. And then I want you to tilt your head this way just a touch. I just posed eight people I've never posed before (laughter) because I am a mirror. Don't tell somebody, or even direct with your hands. Every person, I do it with them. You can sit back down now. I do it with them, and I do it so that it makes sense. I move with them. And you tell them, okay. Pretend I'm a mirror. I just want you to do what I do. So you tell them, you use your big boy words, and then you also show them with your body. Does that make sense? Once I develop that, I don't have problems directing people anymore. 'Cause just about any person, who has achieved sentience (laughs) and can talk, can follow directions like that. I do that with school children and they can do that. Four-year-olds can do that, so grown-ups can do that, too. Okay, so super easy. You have to be the mirror for your client. Whether they're standing, whether they're seated, if you're trying to direct somebody who isn't a professional model, you're gonna need to do that. And so the last piece is getting the head in the right position, which we'll talk about, and then I'll show you how I direct that after another slide. This works for men, and it works for women. Right now we're just talking about the body position, not the direction or the quality of the light. This is a photo to illustrate the body position. But I use it in many different ways, and it works for women, too. You wanna do the arm cross? Real estate agent, you know, stuff like that, works all the time. (laughter) All you gotta do is that exact same pose, weight to the back. How's it going? Do you know 50% of people can not comfortably cross their arms? They look weird when they do it. You ever seen anybody and they're like this? And you're like, you know, let's not do that pose. (laughter) Happens all the time, right? So it works for men and women. It's the same thing. Now, if you want to flatter your subject with the lighting is gonna change, but this position, you can change your camera angle, you can change your angle of lights, but we're talking just about body position. That is the pose. What I just did with you is what I do almost every shoot is what I start with. And it works every time. And especially if you're shooting 20 people, that will continue to work every single time. It's pretty good.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

6 Styles of Headshots
Gear List

Ratings and Reviews

Melville McLean

Gary Hughes is possibly the best teacher I have seen here and that is a very high compliment. His business analysis is simple and to the point. His set ups and techniques are simple and straight forward, no easy task in itself. His interactions with his models/clients are finely developed and reduced into the fewest but most important key exchanges. He teaches by example how to interact and direct. If you are a high volume photography with brief time per sitter, you might especially appreciate his tips. It is extraordinarily difficult to keep a tight, well structured class going live for so long at a time. His intelligence, wit and personality are all in his favor but it is the content itself that is most impressive. I am not a portrait photographer but I have 30 years of commercial studio experience. He knows what is most important, leaves out the rest and has organized the material in anticipation of most difficulties that arise so that it rests in a seamless, smooth, coherent learning experience. All of his practical advice is excellent. Just understand that his work is about doing a relatively large number of shots in the most efficient way rather than a lot of time spent on a few clients for a completely different format [presentation like very large prints. In fact he is especially pragmatic. He emphasizes that you do not have to own the most expensive equipment but you absolutely do have to know how to use the equipment that you already have. And I am telling you this as someone he makes fun of in his course with fancy cameras and Profoto lighting gear. He is an advocate of all thought out approaches as well as relying on skills and knowledge. You will understand how and why to make all of his key, conventional light and posing set ups. He makes everything sound simple and doable -- and with his help -- it is. What you have to appreciate is that it is up to each individual to acquire the specialized skills to make our work compelling enough to be competitive. The unspoken truth that we all face is that talent plays a key role as well and that it takes time to become every accomplished. But I have also seen concentration, commitment and hard work result in developing innate talents that blossom in very successful careers. Mr Hughes reduces every step into the clearest, most essential components. He is self effacing both as a photographer and post process retoucher but he is very good indeed and does not waste time overdoing images that cannot benefit from a larger format presentation. Everything is appropriate and practical. He has already removed everything that does not matter for his purposes for us that would only interfere with the concise, clarity of his presentation.


I am so glad that I had the opportunity to watch this course. It has not only provided valuable lighting set-ups, but also great basics for posing.!. The Photoshop extraction technique Gary demonstrated was icing on the cake. Gary did a great job teaching and I greatly admired the technique in which he taught. Thanks for a great class!


This was an excellent class! The class covered so much information and great tips and ideas. Gary is funny and has an easy going approach, which makes the class that much more enjoyable. As a struggling pet photographer, I have been trying to find something to supplement my business with that does not involve children/babies, or shooting weddings again and headshots seemed to be a great option. After watching this class, I feel confident building up a headshot component to my business. Definitely recommend this class!

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