I had the pleasure of doing some artist’s head shots for local musician Mary Rowan’s website this weekend. Mary was nervous about the session, and we agreed that doing the shoot in her back yard would be a great solution since it would provide all the comfort and privacy required to focus on capturing a beautiful image. She was concerned that there would not be enough scenery to make the session a success but I assured her that it would be perfect. We were presented with a fabulously even cloud cover and all I needed was my trusty off-camera Canon 580EX speed light and a little bubble wrap to bring out her natural glow.
I absolutely love this shot of Mary, it makes me feel like I’m in the country on a summer afternoon with nothing to do but listen to her sing.
One thing that people often forget is that head shots, and really any kind of portraits, are all about people. For a beautiful portrait, you don’t need a stunning location. In fact, your efforts will be wasted if you take a bunch of time to plan out the perfect location for a head shot. Why is this? Because a successful headshot leaves the background as just that: Background.
Texture and color are both great, but you certainly don’t need an expansive coastline or mountain range. You are not doing landscape photography here! If you do it right, your lens will be zoomed in enough that you won’t be able to get the landscape in your shot even if you try. When I’m shooting portraits I look for three things: texture, color and light. A simple fence, field or neutral wall will do just fine. In fact, the more your background fades, the more successful your head shot will be. The important thing is that your subject is lit well and the background color compliments their aesthetic. Because what is a head shot about if it isn’t about the person?