Because of copyright issues, I cannot post the headshot I am referring to on this page, but you can see the exact image by clicking this link:
Hillary Clinton Headshot
First, what about this headshot works and doesn't work?
Let's work from the outside in, starting with the environment, moving to the subject, then to the expression, and finally to the inner emotion and true self.
1. Flag background: The American flag is typically positioned behind most government official photos, and Hillary Clinton’s headshot is no exception. The flag symbolizes patriotism, and because it is a required part of the background, we can’t read into it too much since it wasn’t a choice made by the photographer for this picture.
2. Lighting: The lighting is soft and bright, which allows us to see the face clearly. There are minimal shadows which make this photo seem light, warm, and approachable.
3. Centered in the Frame: Being perfectly centered in the frame is likely similar to having the flag in the background for the photo. Because it’s a requirement, it couldn’t be something chosen by the photographer, meaning we shouldn’t look too deeply into it.
4. Crop: This is a standard headshot crop, but there are some versions of this photo cropped slightly closer. The crop isn’t saying anything here besides the fact that this is a standard portrait taken for a government official.
5. Skin, Clothing, & Retouching: Hillary’s skin surprisingly looks un-retouched. Chances are she had a makeup artist and hairstylist present for the shoot, but the photographer didn’t do retouching on the image because it wasn’t necessary. You can tell that retouching hasn’t been done because the line down her neck is there, there are some flyaway hairs at the top, and there are some blemishes on her forehead. If it was in fact retouched, they did a great job, because I can’t tell. The only change I would have made during the shoot would be to straighten her necklace.
6. Expression: She’s got a nice, big smile, aiming for approachability and warmth. However, she is not doing what I like to call, “The Turtle.” She could have pushed her face forward about an inch to stretch out the jawline and fix the double chin. That would have likely also fixed the line down her neck.
7. Inner Emotion: Interestingly enough, this smile isn’t genuine. If you look closely at her eyes, they show fear and worry. It’s coming through in the slight wavering of her eyebrows and in the subtle widening of the eyelids. Her smile looks great, but the eyes just aren’t cutting it. It also almost looks like she isn’t looking directly at the camera.
Hillary Clinton consistently aims to portray a friendly, approachable warmth in her photos to show that she can connect and that she's open to all people. However, in this photo, her eyes show a bit of worry, and the smile looks fake.
After seeing this, I got interested in looking at more of her headshots to see whether it was just this picture or something more consistent.
Her headshots vary, but fairly consistently her eyes seem more confident and relaxed in other pictures. My conclusion with this shot is that she was feeling rushed, flustered, and worried, since I think it was taken right at the beginning of her term as Secretary of State.
By this point in her career, she has truly become a powerful woman and knows what she is doing on camera to show it most of the time. It is worth noting that she is not scared to show approachability and friendliness in her photos, even though she is powerful.
Do you have any thoughts? Comment below or tweet us @mjbhomeent!