The thing I like about headshots and author photos is how much room for creativity there is. I like the challenge of figuring out how to reflect both who you are as a person and convey what your work is about, sort of like a mini branding session.
I also like the limitations. It’s one photo, and that one photo is small. You need to tell a story in a very small space.
There’s no telling how the publisher will crop it or whether it will be printed in colour or black and white.
On top of that, I don’t tend to think of headshots or author photos as being much different from portraits, and portraits are my favourite. I know headshots can sometimes seem simultaneously boring and intimidating (they don’t have to be either!), so I thought I’d share a recent shoot along with some insight into the process behind it.
Don’t Stress About Location
This shoot with Seth Klein is a really great example of creating a variety of looks using simple elements and backdrops in one location. We shot all of these images at his house in East Van, moving between the boulevard out front, the small backyard and the living/dining room, and it took about 25 minutes
Here’s another set of headshots for writer andrea bennett that used the seawalk by their house for both context and a beautiful backdrop.
Setting the shoot in Seth’s home also made it easy to add personal details that reflect his upcoming book. He’s writing about strategies for mobilizing for the climate emergency, so it made perfect sense to capture the view of his solar panels through the window.
Think About How You’ll Use The Headshots
Headshot sessions are a great time to think about the different kinds of promotional photos you might need for spreading the word about your work. For example, Seth was thinking ahead to a possible website or posters to promote the book and the book tour, so I made sure to capture a few shots with some clean white space around him to allow for text overlays.
Embrace the Wardrobe Change
Just because headshots shoots are typically on the short side (mine are generally 20 or 30 minutes) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bring a change of clothes, especially if you’re waffling about what to wear or know you’ll be using your photos in different ways. Seth changed from a blue shirt to a white one halfway through, and added a jacket toward the end, and we came away with a great variety of options. Easy peasy.
That’s it! No muss, no fuss, just a quick shoot where we all got to flex some creative muscles and make some lovely photos together. Feel free to shoot me a message if you’ve got any questions, or if you’ve got some headshot wisdom to share.