Some would consider framing, composition, and color to be technical aspects of photography. However, I’d like to respectfully disagree. Different people and different characters require different framing, different white balance, different contrast, and different lighting. This chapter covers the creative choices you can make with the camera in hand. Remember that no single rule is unbreakable. Every headshot is different and may need a different approach. This book should solely be taken as a guide of general tips and techniques. As you get better, you can break the rules when the photo calls for it. Just don't begin breaking rules until you know them all.
Headshots can be framed either horizontally or vertically. Although many new actors think a headshot should be framed in portrait format, it's not true. Many photographers shoot horizontally, especially some of the extremely well known ones like Peter Hurley and Jordan Matter. I myself mostly shoot horizontally unless the client asks for vertical shots. It's always a good idea to ask the client if they have a preference before you start shooting. Most say they don't care, in which case it's totally up to you. However, I recommend giving them a bit of variation and making sure you shoot them in both formats, this way they have more choice between the photos.
The Rule of Thirds serves as a simple guide for effective framing, and is therefore a great way to begin your professional headshot photography experience. Learn proper framing as soon as possible so that you know the do's and don'ts of photography. But the truth is, once you have been taking headshots for a while, it's best to step away from the standard rules and start experimenting more. I've always been a firm believer in practice makes perfect, but something that I agree with even more strongly is that experimentation makes perfect. The more you experiment, the faster you learn. Don't be afraid to experiment with new angles, shooting on a tilt, or moving the subject higher than normal in the frame. These are all different techniques that can make your headshots really stand out among the rest. Just be sure that you learn the basic rules of framing first.
One of the main rules of headshot framing is to never leave too much headroom in the photo. I've found that it's much better to leave less headroom than too much. I like to position the subject so that their head is right near the top of the frame, and usually off to one side or another. It gives them more space in the shot and looks more interesting. Try searching sample headshots online and checking out some other professional headshot sites. You'll notice this technique is used quite a lot.
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