It's All About the Angle
Shout out to Peter Hurley who produced two very helpful videos for portrait photography and headshot photography specifically: It’s All About the Jawline and It’s All About the Squinch. I want to explain why It’s All About the Angle.
The hold-my-camera-phone-two-feet-over-my-head selfie took off with MySpace if I’m not mistaken. I think there were a couple reasons for that.
One – it shows more body, which the cool girls and guys on MySpace welcomed. When we talk about professional headshots, we should not be concerned with anything below the armpits – and your actual armpits should not be in a professional headshot, just to be clear. It’s all about your face and expression.
Two – the MySpacers did have one thing figured out that’s useful for the adult world. The area under the chin is a problem area for just about everyone. The skin could always be leaner and tighter, defining your jawline more clearly. Raising the camera sky high removes that area from the image, but looking down on someone when taking a picture will produce a picture that causes others to look down on that person, literally and figuratively. It does not convey competence or confidence. It conveys MySpace.
Shooting from above decreases the power of the individual. This is especially common for women, and I reject it. Women should convey confidence and approachability in their professional headshots, as should men.
Another option is even worse: shooting from below. It’s never done. It makes the area under the neck larger in the image, and you couldn’t ask someone to make better double or triple chins than by shooting way low and asking them to look down. And you get a great view of people’s nostrils.
Shooting from below is nasty: neck and nostrils.
I shoot in the sweet spot. When the camera is between the bottom of the chin and the mouth, a couple great things can happen. First, the obvious is that this is more or less how most people see you. It’s real. It’s you. It does not look like a MySpace selfie or a fancy photo shoot. The attention isn’t on how the photographer got so high. (Was a drone used!?)
If I am shooting your headshot, I will show you how to position your head and neck to define your jawline at that camera height. The camera angle is slightly below your eye level, so you’re getting that hint of power as the viewer is looking up to you a tiny bit. And of course, I’ll work with you to get confidence and approachability in your headshot. That’s my bread and butter.
I enjoy working with people to produce high-end headshots that blow their former headshots out of the water – in a fun, interactive headshot experience. If you are interested in upgrading your online presence, or your organization’s leadership or full staff, please click the button below.
My name is Jon Meadows, and I am the headshot photographer and expression coach at High-End Headshots based in Washington, D.C. I am honored to be an associate headshot photographer of Peter Hurley, who runs the Headshot Crew.