Lessons from the Scene: Guidelines for Portraits, Headshots and Mug Shots by Stanley Leary

 by Stanley Leary


There are a few simple do’s and don’ts to portrait photography. If you know them, it can help you look your best the next time your shooting headshots.
When you’re shooting a head and shoulders photo, the images should be about the person and not the clothes.  A clothing manufacturer doesn’t want a headshot of the model to sell their shirts—they want to see the clothing predominately.
The reverse is true for portraits—the photo is about them and not their clothes and/or jewelry.  So here are a few guidelines about how to keep the attention on the subjects, not the clothes.
• Solid Colors—Avoid Patterns
Keeps the viewer from looking first at the clothing due to the design over the face.
• Darker clothing is preferable
The eye will go to the lighter area of the photo first, which should be the eyes and face. 
• Avoid herringbone jackets
On the web and television it may show as an odd pattern, called the moiré effect
• Classic over trendy clothing
The classic look tends to stay in fashion longer. Trendy clothes go out of date as quickly as new fashion trends come into vogue.
• Simple or no Jewelry
One strand of pearls and matching earrings is about right.
Should they wear casual or a suit for the photo? If they are using the photos for business—it’s always best to have the suit. But having casual attire to change into for a second photo would provide options.
If the subjects are part of the executive team, they may want to look their best, so the company will benefit. Having a few different portraits with different outfits gives them the ability to choose the best option. The executive jobs are making choices. Making your subjects look good is your job.