What happens when you take the Business Headshot out of the Studio?
As a leading headshot photographer in Dallas, TX, I am one of a handful that has a legitimate portrait studio designed to cater to executives, doctors, lawyers, right in the heart of Downtown Dallas.
However, there are times when you want to go outside of the portrait studio for your business headshot or executive portrait.
The studio makes for a more “official” style of business headshot. And many times, that is exactly what an executive wants. The studio headshot emphasizes the person’s credibility, their competancy to do their job and do it right.
That is especially true for (what I call) “high trust” business relationships — with your doctor, or lawyer or banker. The main thing the photo must convey is their trustworthiness and qualifications.
And yet there is a growing trend in many marketplaces to do your business headshot outside the portrait studio. And sometimes you get BOTH — the formal one in the studio, and the more casual one outside the studio.
You see, going outside the studio for your business portrait makes a different kind of statement. Specifically, it emphasizes your approachability, that you are welcoming (to new business deals, to new opportunities, to new clients, etc.).
When is this more “approachable” style beneficial in a business headshot?
It often depends on your industry. A doctor, for example, wants an official/formal portrait in studio when that headshot appears next to his/her credentials. Again, the formal or studio portrait is emphasizing credibility — trustworthiness to do the job right. But then on the contact page of a website, shows his/her more approachable side. Because that is where the action to contact the business as a prospect / client happens.
The same thing applies to real estate agents wanting headshots that help make them profits. When your real estate headshot is being shown on the brokerage website, you are emphasizing your professionalism, so in-studio headshot makes the most sense. But when you promote yourself in social media (including your Zillow profile picture), you are encouraging the prospect to reach out and contact you, thus it is to your advantage there to emphasize your approachability. These are examples where you really need both — in-studio and out of studio.
There are many similar examples, but the principle is the same: competancy or approachability, which matters most in any given context your photo will appear.
So ask yourself…
So ask yourself, “in the context(s) that my photo will appear (to peers and/or business prospects) which do I need to emphasize in this specific photo?” This can make or break a business opportunity. It can have the prospect select YOU to contact or move down the list to the next person…
Certain industries need to appear caring and friendly (such as counsling), or unintimidating (such as a dentist). Certain industries need to emphasize competancy (such as a pilot, or security or engineer). And several industries benefit from both photos.
What about light?
A smart person, wanting to enjoy the maximum benefits from their headshot done right will be asking at this point: “in my photoshoot, what about the lighting, if I go outside the studio?”
I’m glad you asked. We see some photographers talking about “natual light portraits”. Well natural light is not somehow magically better. It can be, but only if the photographer is experienced and highly intentional about their use of lighting.
And while every photographer SHOULD be very conscious about the lighting, many are simply not experienced enough or technically savvy enough to do the job right. With natural light you have to think about the direction and angle of the light, the quality of the light (harsh or diffused, warm or cold, size of specular highlites, etc.). And this is where you could spend decades trying to educate yourself on all the nuances and the difference they make… or just hire a very experienced photographer to know what to do, and take the guesswork out of it.
The Problem with Natural Light Headshots / Portraits
These 3 examples typify the situations that EVERY photographer encounters when trying to take “natual light” headshots or portraits. The key is only working with a photographer that knows how to overcome these situations and turn a potentially awful headshot, into a great one. All 3 examples are taken by self-proclaimed “professional” photographers, by the way. Yikes! You don’t want light from behind or above to dominate, you want light coming FORWARD onto the face, illuminating it, since after all the face is the entire focus of the headshot.
- Look at the ratio of light in the background vs. light on the face. The face is in shadow. The background is outdoors and somewhat blurred, but too cluttered.
- This natural light headshot could be indoors our oudoors. The background is pleasantly blurred for no distractions. But you see the darkness around the eyes. To make things worse, there is unnatural skin coloration from competiting light sources. I see this kind of substandard result SO OFTEN by expensive and egotistical photographers, but this is not flattering and could be corrected by experienced “hybrid” lighting like I use.
- Harsh light: this is common outdoors. you have to know where to place your subject.
For myself, there are indeed very intentional things I do in a “natural light” headshot or portrait that are most flattering to the subject. But often my out-of-the-studio photos are not purely “natural light”. You see I add a very subtle studio flash, yes, even in most outdoor headshots. The reason is that even with a beautiful and smooth natural light situation, your photo will often come out with the eyes looking dark and sunken in (as in the example above). That’s no good in my book. The eyes are KEY to a compelling headshot. So I want to “fill in” where natural light almost does it, but not quite.
My solution to Great Outdoor Headshots
So, technically these are a “hybrid” style of lighting — natural light with studio fill. And I feel this gives my customers the best of both worlds. They love them and use their headshots to great success!
So I want my clients to enjoy outstanding results when they come to me for headshots or portraits. If they choose an outdoor headshot, I work with the background and the setting (along with the lighting and pose) to deliver a headshot result that truly SERVES your goals.
Don’t let your headshot be less than what it could be. After all, this is an investment in yourself. In the Dallas area, for great results on your business photography needs, headshots and portraits, in studio or out, call 877–858–0071 for pricing and availability. www.DallasBusinessHeadshots.com