Pittsburgh Commercial Headshots
What are commercial headshots?
Simply stated, commercial headshots are portraits of people taken for business purposes. The opposite would be family portraits. Commercial headshots are usually taken with the intent of using them for marketing or Public Relations purposes. These headshots need to look professional and need to convey the look consistent with the use of the photo. The headshot should convey or support a particular message intended by the individual or company.
Different uses for commercial headshots
Commercial headshots are needed for all types of use. The main ones that come to mind are, social media profiles, company websites, resumes, business cards, grad school applications, company newsletters, book dust jackets, and actor or model comp cards, just to name a few.
How to find a commercial headshot photographer in Pittsburgh
You already found one! Please take a look at my portfolio. I’ve been shooting commercial headshots for a long time now and have photographed executive and employees from most of the major corporations here in Pittsburgh. I’ve shot on location and in the studio and can adapt quickly to changing environments and come away with great headshot no matter what the situation. Okay, that’s my pitch, but you’ll need to make the final decision. If for some crazy reason you want to keep looking for alternatives, I’ll give you a little more advice.
What to look for in a commercial headshot portfolio
When you’re looking for a commercial headshot photographer, you’ll want to keep a lookout for a few factors. While looking through the photographer’s portfolio, as yourself the following questions.
How’s the lighting? Can you see the subjects well or is the lighting too flat or are the shadows too dark? Do the subjects look comfortable? Is there any drama to the photos or are they boring to look at? Are the subjects posed awkwardly? Are the headshots cropped nicely? Is everything in focus that needs to be in focus? Are the headshots too light or too dark? Do the subjects look as though they could use some retouching? These are all questions that you can use to compare headshot photographers.
Headshot photography is subjective and styles change. By comparing multiple photographers, you can best find the one that is most likely to give you the quality headshot you’ll be happy with.
Planning your commercial headshot
Location vs Studio commercial headshot
One of the first things you’ll need to do is decide whether you want to have your headshot taken in the studio or on location. In some industries, studio headshots are the norm, in others, location photos might be preferable. If you’re wondering which might be better for your commercial headshot, you might want to visit a competitor’s website and see what they did and if you like it or not. You can also ask yourself these questions. Is there an attractive location that is relevant to my marketing message that I can get access to? If the answer is no, you might want to consider a studio background or perhaps a generic location that the photographer could photograph is such a way as to make it irrelevant to the message. If the background is out of focus enough, then maybe it is just pleasing and doesn’t mean anything to the message of the photo.
Shoot both location and studio headshots
Not that long ago, I was approached by a large Pittsburgh corporation and ask to photograph their executive at the company headquarters and they wanted to shoot both environmental and studio-type headshots. I thought it was a great idea. I set up a little studio and found a location nearby to shoot the environmental shots. By shooting both at the same time, we were able to minimize the inconvenience to the subjects. That was a great idea.
If it’s up to me, I always prefer to shoot on location. It’s more difficult but much more interesting. The photos I take on location are more of a challenge but at the same time, are more likely to be more remarkable and more likely to make my portfolio. I like adding to my portfolio… :o)
Here are some things to consider when looking for a possible location for your commercial headshot. First, does the location sup[port your reason for the photo. Then, do you have access to the location? Is the location attractive or interesting? Is the location whether dependent or controllable. Some subjects require conditions that are somewhat controllable. For example, long hair and high winds don’t get along well and rain can make someone less comfortable than they normally might be. You get the idea and it’s something to consider when selecting a location for your headshot.
Even in the studio, there are decisions to make. Most commercial headshot photographers have several backgrounds to choose from. Do you want a solid color or maybe a mottled color background? Does the photo need to match and existing style of headshot? These are all questions to consider.
What to wear for you commercial headshot
Like I mentioned earlier, your commercial headshot needs to support the message. It’s all about the marketing message. Do you want to be thought of as a “suit” kind of person or is your business one that is more casual. There is no right or wrong. It’s all about the marketing message.
Horizontal vs Vertical (Portrait vs Landscape)
If the primary use for the commercial headshot is for a particular marketing piece, it’s a good idea in advance to know what the requirements are for that piece. For example, is the photo is being taken for the company website, the photographer needs to know the dimension of the photo. If the headshot photographer shoots all vertical photos and you realize later that the website requires horizontal photos, you’ve wasted your time and money.
There are times when a client’s headshot needs to match other headshots that have already been taken. This may require a similar background or “Look”. On multiple occasions, I’ve been given written instructions in the form of a lighting diagram so that my photos would better match previous commercial headshots taken by another photographer in another city. These instructions usually include the lens and aperture needed to emulate the desired look of the headshot.
What expression should you have for your commercial headshot?
When I shoot commercial headshots, I make sure that I photograph the subject with a range of expressions. That way, the decision can be either be made later or the subject can select multiple expressions to be used for different types of communication. Not all uses will require the same type of photo. Some occasions will be solemn and some will be light-hearted in nature.
My method is to shoot a sequence of expressions, starting with serious and proceeding on to a big smile. This sequence is captured over the course of five or six photos. The advantage of this is being able to select the expression that works best. Some people when asked to smile, either goo too far or not far enough. For the people that squint too much when they hit a big smile, we simply select the photo where the amount of squint is acceptable.
Selecting your final headshot
I’m not so sure about other commercial headshot photographers, but with every headshot, I shoot a lot of photos. Why not, it doesn’t cost any money. The downside though is that the more photos I shoot, the more difficult it is to select a favorite.
What I prefer to do is let that totally up to the subject. Like I mentioned earlier, commercial headshot photography is a very subjective, so the only opinion that really matters, is the client. Sure, I can give you my $.02, but in the end, only the subject needs to be pleased with the final headshot selection.
Conclusion – In this digital world we’re living in, having a good commercial headshot is becoming more and more important. You owe it to yourself to get one that you can be happy with and one that suits your needs. I’d love the opportunity to work with you on creating the perfect commercial headshot for you and your fellow workers. If you;d like to talk with me about the process, please give me a call at 412-232-4444 or drop me an email.