Headshots – How Important is Facial Expression?

Getting Great Headshots

Well hello!

A good morning to you; it’s a sunny Sunday, and the screaming baby of ten minutes ago is no more. I’ve been granted a moment’s respite in the form of a midday nap, and I thought I’d take the time to write a quick blog update about the importance of facial expression in headshots.

Now, I tell all of my clients before a headshot session that I am fully responsible for the outcome of that session. I say the blame for a bad headshot lays squarely on my shoulders. I do, however, also say that I am unfortunately unable to take responsibility for one thing: facial expression.

Facial expression is so, so important. It can’t be underestimated in the slightest. A headshot can be beautifully lit, beautifully posed, and if the facial expression is off the mark, the whole shot is unusable.

Headshot examples - facial expression

On the left is a headshot that misses both composition and expression. In the next shot on the right, composition and facial expression nailed perfectly.

Take a look at the shot above – one is well lit, the skin is nicely textured, and it has a nice ambiance, but the facial expression doesn’t say anything. In the very next shot, Michael makes that extra bit of effort, and the result is an almost completely different headshot. Same light, same great skin texture, but that facial expression just drips confidence. He ended up choosing the right as one of his six final headshots. It really does go to show just how important your facial expression is.

So what’s the secret to a great facial expression in an actors headshot? It’s really simple:

Believe In Yourself.

That’s really all there is to it. No, really!

A headshot session is one of those things you can put a little into, or you can put a lot into. The more you put in, the better your headshots are going to be. The only thing that holds back from a good facial expression is not experimenting. Don’t be afraid to let go and try different expressions, even if they won’t make a great headshot. It can be a liberating, confidence building experience.

Row of headshots - confidence example

By letting go and not worrying about how he looks in front of the camera, Omar was free to experiment, resulting in headshots like the one on the right – Click For Larger

Getting a good headshot is a team effort. For all the responsibility the photographer can take away from you during the session, there’s only so much they can do! The rest is up to you. Don’t be afraid to pull a stupid face, or to throw random facial expressions out there. They all add up to ultimately build your confidence during a shoot, and confidence is the most powerful tool in the whole box.

Get gurning! http://london-headshots.net

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