One of the most important, yet overlooked aspects of headshot photography is located within the actual camera settings that the photographer uses. Something that I only learned recently is the importance of actually making adjustments in camera, as opposed to adjustments made in post production, on the computer. There are 2 primary reasons that I highly recommend shooting out of camera the way that you want the images to look.
1. By shooting the head shots with the correct camera settings before hand, it saves you time and energy from having to make all those adjustments later. Additionally, the camera will usually get you a much better look and results than making those adjustments in Adobe Photoshop or Adobe light room. It was actually really interesting because lately, I've been trying to figure out the differences between Nikon cameras and Canon cameras. for some reason, it seemed to me that the Nikon camera would be more washed out and would not look very filmic as compared to the Canon camera. I could not understand why, and I worked hard to create Photoshop actions that would make the Nikon camera images look more like Canon images. After much experimentation and shooting a test headshot session, I came to realize that the difference simply lied within actual camera settings. Nikon offers what's called Picture Controls, and those picture controls make it very easy to completely adjust the way the images look. For instance if you adjust the white balance during the shoot, the images will look much more natural. Whites will still be true white. However if you use Photoshop to adjust the white balance later on, whites will no longer look white. They may look are injured or blue. And in turn, that will make the images look much more processed and fake.
2. The 2nd reason that shooting head shots with the correct settings before hand is superior is because it allows the client to instantly be able to use any of the images on the CD. In the past, when I would shoot extremely washed out in order to preserve the maximum detail, many clients would ask me how they can make the images more contrasty. Of course, when I would edit the images, I would use Photoshop to make them look more punchy. However if a client wanted to use the rest of the images that were on the CD and were edited, they would need to make those adjustments themselves. Shooting with the camera settings in the correct contrast range would allow the client to have many more images to choose from, and the would most likely look much better than what the client would be able to do, adjusting a contrast filter later on and without the assistance of a professional.
Due to these 2 primary reasons and a few others, I ultimately decided to shoot with the correct camera settings before hand. Then I can burn a disc of all the images to give to the client and they will be happy with the results. If you are a headshot photographer, I highly recommend that you use this approach if you want to satisfy the most clients and actually be able to increase your headshot photography skills faster. What do I mean by this?
By shooting with a higher contrast range, it is much important and that you hit the exposure spot on, otherwise the image could easily be too bright or too dark. Therefore, needing to be that much more accurate will make you a better photographer in the long run.
Hopefully this tip will help you out as a headshot photographer. I know that many headshot photographers who read this site still have more questions, and if that is you feel free to e-mail me at: Martin@mjbhomeentertainment.com.