We can't stay away from what we love. And neither can J.K. Rowling, who just dropped the script of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the new play about our favorite witches and wizards, only this time as adults, that premiered at London's West End last night. This addition to the Potter canon is the first in nine years, and I can't help but recall the last time there was a Harry Potter release...
I came across this photo of myself on Facebook today, sitting in my home town's Barnes & Noble after receiving my fresh copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on July 21st, 2007. My old friend captured the moment of me opening the book, heart fluttering, with the bittersweetness of recognizing a series emblematic of my childhood drawing to a close. I was wearing the yellow plastic bracelet that got me in before other nerds; I wore a buttoned-up flannel shirt similar to the one I wore to work at the studio on Friday; my bangs were too long and constantly got in my face; I had burned the part in my hair from that summer's beach trip; I hadn't yet finished high school, or gone to college, or moved to New York, or moved in with the love of my life, or even close to figured out who I was and what I was supposed to be doing with my energy and time.
Pictures of ourselves can do that, can't they? With a glance, a wormhole opened to a memory, one branded into my mind by the iron of knowledge that life would continue, it would always continue, and if I was lucky I'd be able to look back years from that memory and recognize it as a good one.
Pictures of ourselves are powerful. Headshots project an image of our best selves to others. Snapshots snuck between turns of a page can later return us to truths-- Harry Potter is great, our adolescence is as fleeting as his, and we need to preserve the sweetness, the joy we found in our youth in whatever ways we can.
Remember the potency that a single picture of yourself can possess. Capture the moments in your life that you will want to look back on. Goodness isn't found only in the past; it's there, right before your friend's Nikon.
x Lee Ann
Using an iPhone (or any camera phone, for that matter) will obviously not guarantee you'll get a super professional shot but applying these tricks will definitely give you a usable headshot you can work with until you can afford to shoot with a headshot photographer for a more high-end photo.
There are a couple main things to keep track of:
1. Make sure the lighting is good.
2. Make sure your expression is good.
3. Make sure it's been retouched so the background is blurred or not distracting.
So now let's go into detail about each one of these things:
How do you get great lighting with a camera phone? Good question. The most important thing to remember is directionality of the light. The direction of the light means essentially, from where is it coming from? Is it coming from directly overhead? Is it coming from below the subject? Or in front or behind?
My recommendation for a good headshot is to shoot it indoors in front of a window. Have the window directly behind the camera so the light fills in your face. Make sure whoever is shooting you stands with their back to the window, and you point towards them, so that all the light from the window fills in your face.
The other benefit to using a window light is that it's very soft and won't create harsh shadows. Soft lighting is important for headshots because it softens the features and looks more flattering for the face.
The tagline here at City Headshots is: "It's all about expression." Because a genuine expression is actually one of the most important aspects of a headshot, and in many cases, even more so than the lighting of the photo. If your smile is fake, you won't connect with the viewer and the shot won't be memorable. It will feel forced and because people won't be able to connect to you, they won't trust you.
A headshot should establish trust, credibility and experience. Trust is vitally important and can only be formed through a genuine expression of approachability and warmth.
So how do you get a real smile in your shot? Just laugh. Look at the camera and start laughing! Make sure your chin doesn't tilt up to high though. If you look at the photo and don't like the angle, try a different angle but still laugh. Don't just smile, actively laugh. I'm serious! If you don't your smile won't look real.
3. Professional Background
Just as important as the lighting and expression, the background of your headshot must also look professional. If you take a photo with a camera phone, because of the small sensor size, chances are the background will be completely in focus which means that the image will subconsciously scream "unprofessional!"
Make sure if you're taking the photo yourself that you either shoot against a wall with no distracting texture or pattern, or you retouch out the background and out yourself on a more professional backdrop. You can also choose to have the background blurred out so the focus is more on you and the image looks more professional in general.
So there you have it. Three things that must be present for a headshot to look professional: Soft lighting coming from the correct angle, a genuine smile or real expression, and a professional background.
Fortunately if you have the first two taken care of, we can actually retouch your image here at our studio for a good rate to make the background more professional which can give the headshot a more polished look for your LinkedIn page.
Remember, when you take a headshot yourself it's no substitute for a professionally shot headshot by a photographer with the right equipment who specializes in headshots, but it can certainly work in the meantime until you can afford a pro level photo.
If you are interested in learning how to shoot pro headshots, take a look at this book:
I feel like there is nothing worse to a casting director, agent, or manager than an outdated headshot. Really, nothing worse. Like, I'm talking about it doesn't look like you anymore, it has a distracting background, it's too photoshopped, the tone is off, or it's when you decided to dye your hair black and no one told you it really truly looked that bad.
But I know how it is for actors, constantly trying to update shots. It's so disheartening. I've poured hundreds and hundreds of dollars in the past eight years looking to get a good headshot. So here are my tips for those who can't seem to get a good headshot:
1. Stop going to your friend/ friend of a friend (unless they truly are a professional)
***This will help you stop settling for that "OK" shot because you don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.
2. Stop looking for the cheapest price. Just stop. No one wants a pizza made with the cheapest sauce.
3. Quality over quantity (of course). You don't need 589275027503 shots. You need one great one.
4. Look for someone who shoots people who look like you. Can they shoot your skin tone? Can they shoot someone with short hair, no hair, long hair?
5. Look for someone who wants to take care of you from start to finish. No they won't print your headshots, but they should be knowledgable enough to know where to get it done.
6. Read all the reviews. Bad ones, good ones.. read 'em all.
Lastly, show people your shots. As much as they are yours- you might want to ask a few people you trust (and who are in the industry) what they think. Good luck and hopefully these tips saved you millions of dollars that you can now buy all the pizza you desire.
Follow us on twitter @mjbhomeent / insta @City_Headshots!
While on a plane last weekend I began to re-read the great comic book Watchmen. Since I already knew where the story was going to twist and turn, I was able to sit back and enjoy the sheer mechanics of the comic’s storytelling. Many elements come together in that story to make it great, from the visual artistry to the dialogue to memorable characters to the episodic plot structure. From all of these elements, something bigger emerged: the feel of Watchmen. Alan Moore gives us a dirty, bleak New York City, the nexus of a world ready to spin out of control and eat itself alive on a dime. Watchmen’s New York has a personality of its own, one far different from, say, the New York City found in the Disney film Enchanted. They’re both New York, but they’re not the same thing. Their feel is different.
Like comic books and Disney movies, many elements contribute to a successful head shot: lens and camera choices, composition, lighting, expression, facial and body positioning, backdrop, and styling of the subject. Using these elements a photographer can create an entirely different “world” for his or her subject. The photographer can craft a feel to the shot.
Consider two portraits of Jennifer Lawrence (they're linked because of copyright reasons).
Portrait One has an entirely different feel than Portrait Two. Both head shots are of Jennifer Lawrence, but she’s not exactly the same person in the two shots.
In Portrait One she looks mature, elegant, artistic-- like something out of a modern art museum. Note the soft lighting, the styling of her hair, the black turtleneck and the marbled grey backdrop. This is prestige awards season Jennifer Lawrence.
Although Portrait Two was undoubtedly taken when she was younger, the photographer clearly wasn’t going for an older, more mature look. The Jennifer in Two looks rebellious, a little dangerous, definitely young, definitely sexy. The position of the light creates shadows on the sides of her face, accentuating her facial structure (rather than softening it as in Portrait One). This is edgy action star Jennifer Lawrence.
Whether you are a business person, a model or a medical student, consider the kind of feel you’d like your headshot to have before you have it taken. What kind of you do you want to be? What kind of image do you want to project? How can the photographer utilize his or her available elements to craft the ambience you’re looking for?
Meanwhile, let’s keep our city more like Enchanted than Watchmen.
x Lee Ann
I love doing makeup for headshots, I feel like its my job to bring out the best in people so that they can feel their most confident on camera so that they can convey genuine expressions of confidence. I have learned a lot about the way different people approach the way they do makeup and have often been asked about the current beauty trends and my feelings on them or if I think that they are appropriate for a headshot. So here are three tips I tell client's that ask me about the most popular trends in beauty!
1) PLEASE DON'T PUT RED LIPSTICK UNDER YOUR EYES:
This one needed all caps because it can pose as a serious danger. I often see this in clickbait articles and occasionally on youtube. There is a common misconception that applying red lipstick under your eyes can combat dark circles in order to neutralize them with minimal layers of makeup. The problem with this is that red lipstick has pigmentation that is made for your lips only, and by that I mean that if applied to your eyes could cause an infection or at least serious discomfort.
A good replacement? Try going to your local beauty shop and look into color correcting shades in a salmon color, color correcting shades are made to be used all over your face and the color is not as harsh so you don't have to spend time correcting the red patch you've created.
2)"I saw this look on Instagram can you do my makeup like this?"
Let me elaborate. Many popular Instagram "Beauty Gurus" use retouching, photo editing, on their photos to make them look like that and the real makeup application may vary greatly. Besides this point these looks are often only appealing from a certain angle, making the contouring look unappealing and exaggerated from all other angles.
In regards to your headshot session a big reason why you do not want to wear Insta-glam makeup is because your headshot session is about you, not your makeup. When you submit that photo to a casting director or have the photo posted on Linked-In you want to be sure that the person looking at the photo sees you before they see your makeup. You are the star of the show and you don't want to be upstaged by 10 pounds of makeup.
3)Practice Makes Perfect
I often find that many people feel discouraged by beauty trends because they cannot replicate the look as quickly as they see it on youtube or on Instagram's One-Minute video format. This is OKAY!
Youtube and Instagram videos use video editing to condense their makeup applications into easy to digest snippets that, while they can be helpful, are often not as long as the actual application took them.
When I am working on a model for a high fashion photography shoot it can take me up to 2 hours for a perfect makeup application and I'm sure that many of these other artists fall in the same time frame.
Blending takes time, no one can create a perfect smokey eye in 2 minutes. Lighter colors should be built up to the darker shade and blended in-between to create a seamless transition. Each of these layers needs to be blended and in often cases certain colors need multiple layers to create the color blend you are looking for.
These things take time and practice to perfect, so take your time with that winged liner. I do too.
What are your favorite beauty trends?
Comment below or tweet us at @mjbhomeent
What do I mean when I say that "it’s all about the lighting”? Simply put, without the right lighting, a photographer doesn’t have a photograph worth showing. Remember, light plays an important part of creating a great image. Light can change from moment to moment and this change will affect how a photographer shoots a subject. Keep in mind, understanding this, the photographer must change their camera settings constantly in order to regain the correct lighting.
These changes can dramatically affect the way light is hitting their subjects and backgrounds. Both of which is the key to great images and satisfied clients. The amount of light will also affect the exposure and likely the subject, as well as it affecting the image tone in terms of warmth or coolness. But if correctly executed, learning to adapt to any lighting situation, and learning what to look for, this will make a photographer more skillful, and help improve their technique until it is perfect.
Some last thoughts. Light must be treated like a tool and a photographer must learn how to work with. If there’s not ‘enough’ Light, they have to figure out how to work within that situation. Fortunately, for most, if not all photographers, digital cameras were built to capture conditions that can handle even the poorest lighting conditions. Use what technology has granted you and watch your photos get better and better...and remember "it’s all about the lighting”!
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I've always been a fan of bringing fun into the workplace. If you're going to be spending 8-9 hours at your work place, you need to break up your day by doing something different. Whether it's taking an impromptu trip to grab Starbucks with a co-worker, stepping outside to get fresh air, or laughing with a coworker over a funny article on Buzzfeed.
The other day, I had the opportunity to break up our work day and took it!
Martin was setting up curtains in the studio when he let out a sigh and looked at the tension rods they'd be hanging on. "They don't fit the window, they're not wide enough." He looked at me and asked, "What's a creative solution for how we can put these to good use?"
I look at him with a smile on my face. "Sword fight?"
Our eyes both lit up and we both grinned as we grabbed a tension rod and got ready to fight. That is, after we moved all of our extremely expensive photography equipment out of the way! We stood across from each other, ready to duke it out.
Ready... Set... Go!
We went at it, hopping and jumping out of the way of each other’s makeshift foil. It was exactly what we needed to clear our heads. We were getting up and moving, using our brains in a different way, and having fun while going it! I encourage you this week to break up your work day by doing something different.
It’s scientifically proven that taking breaks makes you more productive.
Let us know your favorite way to mentally (or literally!) stretch while on the clock! Comment below or tweet us @mjbhomeent!
Snapchat is the best. I find myself perusing people's stories all day long and it's a lovely way to hang out with friends without physically being with them. My favorite thing, though, and based on the app's success since its release in 2011, everyone else's favorite thing as well, is the "realness" of the whole photo experience.
Because images disappear within one day at most, and you don't have the opportunity to edit and "perfect" images as you would on Instagram, people seem far more willing to post images with "imperfections" without a second thought. The standard level of self-consciousenss that comes with presenting our public image does not seem to be nearly as apparent. Maybe it's because the images are ephemeral, maybe it's because we don't have the choice to polish the images. Either way, I have no problem posting a less than flattering image on snapchat because I know it serves to tell my "story."
And that trend towards more physical acceptance and body positivity is starting to creep more and more into our ideals of beauty, which is absolutely fantastic. Even just two years ago we would sometimes receive requests for retouches on actor headshots and business headshots that would have paragraphs of notes attached. And a lot of what people were asking for were adjustments on imperfections only they would be looking for.
Having other people I thought were naturally gorgeous come back and say they felt so many things needed improvement was absolutely heartbreaking. People still sometimes ask if I can make them look like x, y, or z celebrity. We certainly can, but it always makes me sad that people are disinclined to look for their own beauty. Shooting headshots has me regularly analyzing a lot of different faces and I genuinely haven't met anyone I would say wasn't uniquely beautiful.
But more and more recently, something cool has been happening with our headshots and I would like to think it has something to do with this #nofilter movement so aptly reinforced by Snapchat. Instead of immediately assuming retouching is needed on their images, people will instead ask my opinion, which is an amazing departure from automatically feeling that they are not good enough. And when we do get notes, people will often come back and say they feel they asked for too much, that they didn't necessarily want their smile lines removed or their skin made tanner. The departure from hyper-polished images is something I'm so wonderfully excited about because it means that we no longer have to feel so self conscious that we are not living up to a fictional standard. So thank you, Snapchat, I'm going to keep posting those weird selfies!
Are you a Snapchat fan? What do you think about the #nofilter movement? Leave us a comment or tweet us @mjbhomeent!
When actors pick up their sides for a scene, they work it from every possible angle. They write down their feelings, what they're doing, who's in the scene with them, who they're talking to, where they are, where they were, etc etc etc, and then they rehearse a million different ways until they have found their scene. After that, they supposedly throw ALL that work away and act in the moment.
Well guess what, this is what happens in a headshot shoot. A shoot starts by getting action, where many different techniques are tried to get an actor in the state of mind where they are able to communicate strong messages like “this is who I am,” “I am going to book this role,” “God, I love acting,” etc. These strong feelings allow an actor to get into ACTION, at the same time, make their objective come alive in their eyes in relationship to the eyes of the viewer.
Like with acting, after a while, they get into this zone where they just throw away the inhibitions and just look into the camera with great intention.
Bottom line, an actor almost forgets what they're doing because just like in a scene, they are doing nothing and just live in the moment. Simple, right!
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Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending my boyfriend's brother's wedding outside Cleveland, OH. For whatever reason the gods decided to give us wedding-goers a brief interlude from the heavy, humid July weather, and instead provided a cool summer breeze and manageable afternoon temperatures. The weather, combined with the Goose Island Ale at the open bar, the company, and the excellent food, made my experience as a wedding guest (as opposed to wedding videographer, my usual role) exceptionally pleasant.
Despite the fact that I wasn't working in the studio that day, my training as a City Headshots photographer didn't stay back in New York. Before the announcement of the bridal party and its accompanying speeches at the reception, my boyfriend and I hit that first "let's take a selfie" marker of the day. And here's where the "mad skillz" came into play, we professionals term it.
Alex wanted to get a shot of the meadow and pond in the background while we were standing under the reception pavilion. However, I knew that since the sunlight was bathing the outdoor area, and not hitting underneath the pavilion, the background would look washed out, or overexposed. I also knew that since no handy City Headshots soft box would be hitting our faces with soft light, we would appear backlit-- and not in a flattering way. He still wanted to give it a try, though, and lo and behold, this was our selfie:
So when taking a selfie at a wedding, or any other special occasion, be sure to consider your light source, remember you and your other subjects' best sides, and find a camera angle that's more flattering (there's a reason why people hold their cameras up instead of down in a selfie-- it generally looks better). You may not get the professional calibre shot, but that's why there are professional photographers at the wedding! However you will surely get a fun picture of you and your posse that's way more Facebook-worthy. And isn't that what weddings are all about?
x Lee Ann