Top tips on taking a headshot

Kay Ransom Photography
Jan 29 · 2 min read

So you’ve got yourself a “posh camera” and you’re wondering how do I take a fantastic headshot with it? There are quite a few factors to consider:

Background: find yourself a non cluttered background and if possible have it as far away from the model as possible e.g. fields/trees that are in the distance, this gives you a better depth of field and hopefully gives you a nice blurred background.

Lighting: if you’re outside opt for shade or have the sun behind the subject. If you’re inside avoid having existing lights directly above the subject’s head.

Camera Settings: there’s no “one setting” however opting for an aperture of f/4 is a good solid choice and gives you a greater chance of depth of field. The shutter speed depends on the lens, but around double the focal length is a nice safe bet. For example 200mm = 1/400 shutter speed. ISO you’ll have to choose what balances the exposure if you’re outside you’ll be lucky and most likely be able to work in 100–400 zone, if you’re inside more likely you’ll most likely have to opt for 1000–2000 ISO zone. If you have a zoom lens, zoom in as much as possible and this will also increase your depth of field.

Positioning model: make sure your model has good posture, I find a pose slightly to the side is often more flattering, crop to whatever the subject is comfortable with.

Clothing: colours that suit people’s skin tone are a good start, avoiding jazzy patterns I advise as they are distracting and often block white is tricky because it can affect the exposure and will often blow if you’re outside on a sunny day.

Rapport: Make sure the model is relaxed and at ease, if you know each other rapport is easy, if you don’t try and find some common ground prior to taking their photograph and the shoot should flow better and be more relaxed.

Mirror: ensure the model checks their hair prior to taking the photos, everyone has a particular idea of how their hair should look.

So there we go, those are my top tips when taking a headshot. Good luck!

Kay Ransom Photography

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Award winning Kay Ransom Photography is based in The Cotswolds with high profile clients across the UK. Photographing events, corporate & commercial projects.

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