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Head Position for Headshots

Lesson 11 from: The Business of Professional Headshots

Gary Hughes

Head Position for Headshots

Lesson 11 from: The Business of Professional Headshots

Gary Hughes

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Lesson Info

11. Head Position 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

Head Position for Headshots

Now here is the key to head shots. There are lots and lots of ways to do this, but I wanna iron this into the three main head positions and what they mean, okay? You have to identify the two shoulders when you're shooting with the body off center. There's the far shoulder and then there's the camera shoulder, and tilting the head to one or the other creates a completely different feel of the image without changing anything else about it. So, this is tilted to the far shoulder. This is gonna be more assertive, more dominant. It's gonna be potentially more aggressive. It could also be more insightful, more interested. Do you understand what I mean? So, let's look at the next one. Typically this would be what you would call a masculine head position, because this is what you would do with men more than women, but it works for women quite well, as you can see. Here we go, straight up. When the head is straight up and down. You don't have to have head tilt in the image. But, I would encoura...

ge you that, with the right person, it can change the feel of an image. Straight up and down is a very no nonsense-- I'm here to have my head shot done, nice to see ya, sort of way of looking at it. Camera shoulder. You see the big change? When you shift your head to the camera shoulder, it's open, it's friendly. It's available, approachable. Typically, this is what is used largely as a feminine pose. I've seen it work for men as well, but by and large, when you're shooting people, if you photograph a man and you do this with his head, you're going to make him look less manly, okay? That's just the way it is. Let me get a great example. Sheldon, come on up. Come on. Right here, okay. You don't need a microphone. We don't need you to talk. I just wanna use your head. So, watch this. All right, Sheldon. I want you to turn your body this way. I want you to point your toe at me. Good. Just put those thumbs in your pockets right there. Good, you with me? Now watch this, we're gonna do this together. This is the far shoulder from your angle of view, right? So, let's go ahead and tilt your head a little bit that way, and go like this (blows air out of mouth). Okay, now if that's your angle of view, that's all right, right? Now, go like this. Hey girl. (crowd laughing) See what I'm sayin'? It becomes-- It's a lot more open. Thanks man, you're all set. It's a totally different feeling, and all you did was move the head. So, let's practice this real quick, too. There are three axes upon which the human head can move. Probably more for some people, but three basic, all right? I've created infallible hand gestures to help people do that. As long as you view it in conjunction with mirroring their movement. So, I give people this speech in a session when they come into the studio. I go, okay, I'm gonna put you in the exact position I need, and then the only fine tuning I'm gonna do is I'm gonna probably have to move your head just to get the right angle. There are three ways you can move your head, and here they are. Do 'em with me real quick. You can move your head like this. Good. You can move your head like this. Good. And you can move your head like this. Good. See? That's it. One, two three. So, now if I want your head in a position, I go okay guys, tilt your head this way. Bring your chin down a little bit, and turn your head just like that, boom. Everybody did it exactly right on the first try. Three axes, three hand gestures. One, two, and three. And that's it. Now, you can get somebody's head in to the right-- Anybody can do it the first time. All you gotta do is display confidence, use the hand gestures, make up your own if you want, and do it with them. It's really, really easy. When you realize how body mechanics work, it becomes less and less mysterious how to get people the way you look. Get the head the closest thing to the camera, and then understand what you're seeing with the position of the head, all right? If somebody has a little more weight on them and you bring that chin down too much, you're gonna make that double chin more pronounced. Or, maybe if they don't have one, you'll make it even look like they do, all right? So, if you want somebody to have that-- You lift their chin, and you lean 'em into you so it stretches 'em out a little bit. There's really not a lot of mystery to it. There are a few key things to do to make people look really, really 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!

Student Work