Last Updated: May 14th, 2018
Before we get into this, if you're an actor looking to shoot your own headshots and want to save some money instead of buying a camera and all kinds of gear, check out my "Take Your Own Headshots" tutorial video. You can actually shoot some nice pictures with your camera phone and have them retouched through us where we blur out the background and make them look much more professional.
Now, onto the article.
If you are a professional photographer, or want to become one, remember that you are going to need a dSLR camera and at least an 85mm lens. I've placed links to the articles on what equipment to buy at the bottom of this page.
There are so many different ways to shoot headshots, and the truth is that there is no one best shutter speed or aperture setting to use. But I can definitely give you my best recommendation of what typically works well for me.
Lately, I have decided to start using a much longer lens and close the aperture just a little bit because it looks nicer than using a short lens with an extremely wide aperture. so let's get down to it.
BEST SHUTTER SPEED FOR HEADSHOTS
The best shutter speed to shoot headshots at is 1/200th of a second. The reason for this is because at this speed, almost all normal speed human movement will be stopped. You don't want to pose your clients completely because it can ruin the energy of the shoot. Instead, it's better to let them move around a bit. Therefore you need a fairly fast shutter speed to absolutely stop that movement because a photo with shutter blur will absolutely not be usable as a professional headshot.
The reason I don't recommend shooting at a faster shutter than this is because if you ever plan to use flash with your shoots, unfortunately you'll run into is shutter sync problem. Shutter sync is beyond the scope of this article, but what it basically means is that when the shutter speed of a camera is too fast, it won't sync up properly with the flash and the image will look dark.
BEST APERTURE FOR HEADSHOTS
The best aperture to use is going to be anything at f/2.8 or larger (meaning f/2 or f/1.4). If you're not used to shooting at such wide apertures and are worried some of your shot may come out blurry, start at f/2.8 and with practice you can begin opening the aperture wider. The softer the blur, the nicer and more stylized the headshot becomes. On the other hand, if your aperture is too much smaller than an f/2.8 (meaning a higher f-stop) you will lose the amount of blur you need for a good, professional-looking shot.
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There is no cost... we just take a small referral fee of whatever the client pays you.
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The Best Cameras to Use for Headshots
The Best Lenses to Use for Headshots
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions!
If you're interested in learning how to shoot awesome headshots for people and want to know how to direct them into great expressions and learn lots more about the technical side of headshots, check out "Shoot Headshots That Pop!" an awesome eBook I've written specifically for people wanting to get into headshot photography.