• From Boring To Soaring: BAD Headshots vs. GOOD Headshots

    August 31, 2018

    Lately, I’ve been trying to utilize LinkedIn on a more consistent basis. A LOT of people use LinkedIn. According to Alexa.com, it is the 28th most visited website in the world. (https://www.alexa.com/topsites) Because of that fact, I’ve realized it is also the mega source of the largest volume of poor quality headshots in the world! 🙂

    I understand that not everyone sees the need for a quality headshot but I think most people really just don’t have any idea what makes a good headshot.This post is all about a few comparison images to show what a BAD headshot can look like compared to a QUALITY headshot. I hope you find this helpful!

    Some Things I Notice

    Lets talk about studio portraits for a moment. There is nothing wrong with a well done, well thought out and skilled headshot in a studio setting. The problem I see so often is a lot of people settle for lackluster studio shots with poor lighting and posing. A studio portrait is much more than just setting up a background for the subject to stand in front of. Have a look at these poor examples:

    bad headshot

    Yes, there’s a studio background and studio lights were used but the lighting used here is not indicative of a quality photographer. This is called cross-lighting which is where you have shadows on both sides of the face caused by two lights on either side of the camera firing across both sides of the subject’s face. The result is not flattering to the majority of faces and can accentuate features that many are self conscious about. The eyes here are also not illuminated much so they feel lifeless and dull. Here’s another bad example:

    bad headshot

    This is an improvement but still not up to the standards that should be expected from a professional photographer. The light here is very flat and does little to shape and sculpt the subject’s face. Remember, a photograph needs to convey three dimensions on a screen or a print which are both two dimensional. Utilizing light properly will add clarity and realism in print and screen. Sometimes flat lighting can be used when someone’s makeup is professionally done but most of the time that isn’t the case. The flat light, because it isn’t coming from an angle, has washed out details in her skin and overexposed her chest making it brighter than her face. Also, the woman here is standing too close to the background which casts a distracting shadow onto it. Being that she is thin, it doesn’t hurt as much that her shoulders are square to the camera but the pose is boring and has no finesse, style, artistry and elegance. Everything about these two examples shows lack of skill and craftsmanship!

    Something Better

    Notice the relaxed but quality posing, the lighting, the eyes, the clarity, the genuine expressions, color harmony, etc. and you should be able to see that more skill and care went into creating these headshots.

    las vegas headshot photographer commercial professional portraits business


    las vegas headshot photographer commercial professional portraits business

    las vegas headshot photographer commercial professional portraits business

    las vegas headshot photographer commercial professional portraits business

    The Not-So-Great Outdoors

    Not all headshots for actors/performers and business professionals need to be photographed inside with a studio set up. Going outside is often a GREAT idea! However, when done incorrectly, the results are downright awful!

    bad lighting

    In this first example, the light from the sun is harsh and causing squinting and bringing out pours and imperfections in the skin. It’s not very flattering but I see a lot of amateur photographers trying to sell this kind of work.


    bad lighting


    Eventually, the photographer might wise up and turn the subject’s back to the sun. The face being more shaded and therefore darker than the sunlit background required the exposure to be brightened which washed out detail in the background, skin and overall color. This light is too contrasty to leave unmodified. The sidewalk is also reflecting on the subject’s face from underneath which is similar to holding a flashlight underneath your chin when telling scary stories at a camp-out. I call this “monster lighting” and it’s rarely used in a quality portrait.

    bad lighting

    This is getting better but is still lacking a professional touch. The color has improved and the subject’s shaded face was brightened by incorporating a fill flash on the camera. This is good to use in a pinch or just for a snapshot but for a professional portrait, this isn’t what a paying client should ever be expecting.

    More Bad Examples

    More Bad Headshots

    First of all, I hate it when I see headshots of people in front of stucco walls and dreaded garage doors. Next, I hate it when lighting is bad. Headshot photographers that lack the skills necessary to get the job done correctly will sometimes abandon the sunlight and seek shade. This isn’t a bad idea at all but notice these examples showing what I see all too often. On the left, her face is in shade and the rest of her is in the bright sun. In the middle, a fill flash was used to light the face but it didn’t fix the problem of the sunlight. The third isn’t the worst thing ever but it still needs a lot of improvement. It was good to move her back out of the sun and the light on her face is improved but still coming mostly from underneath her chin to much. Her eyes have no light in them and again, that stucco wall. I mean, come on!

    bad headshot example garage door sunlight harsh

    Oh no! Not the garage door! No! No! Get it away from me! Noooooooooo!

    Being Outside Can Look Great

    Something like these is a lot more pleasing to the eye and much more flattering in terms of posing, lighting and quality. Being outside is a great option as long as the wind isn’t too hard to work with since hair can go everywhere and if the subject isn’t too squinty, even in shade. People with blue eyes tend to squint more but when the sun is at its highest, even if the background and lighting is all locked in, no one likes to see themselves squint.

    The lighting is good, the expression is great, the color and density is very clear but like I mentioned before, the wind can blow hair and she is a tiny bit squinty. Other than that, this would be a great outdoor headshot portrait. When the wind and squinty eyes are manageable though, the results are fantastic!

    outdoor business headshot las vegas photographer commercial

    outdoor business headshot portrait man las vegas photographer commercial


    Well, I hope you found that interesting. I would love to be your photographer for your business or self promotion so please contact me right away and tell me what you have in mind. I’m here to help!




  • Family Portraits: It’s About Planning

    August 20, 2018

    Whew! Time to dust off the ol’ blog! I apologize for not writing like I used to. It’s easy to get behind on blogging but hopefully I’ll commit to posting again…starting now!

    My mind is resting on family portraits. The fall is coming and our Zion weekend is almost ready to be announced yet again and as the weather gets nicer and everyone is well adjusted again to school and work and being in town, family portraits won’t be far. I thought I’d share with you all a fun family session from last December. I want to show you all the kind of lengths I’ll go to make sure your family portrait is as painless and gives unforgettable results.

    I met with this family about a month prior to the portrait session. It was expressed to me that it would be a large group, they were worried about everyone being cooperative and they were unsure about where they wanted the portrait taken. Like many have told me in the past, they too had a negative experience in the past when they tried for a large group portrait. They said the results weren’t professional enough, families were stressed, kids were stressed and uncooperative, the group’s arrangement just wasn’t what they were hoping for, etc. I’ve heard these things a lot!

    Inside tip: Why are there so many bad family portrait experiences? There are A LOT of people in town that claim to be family portrait photographers but lack training in posing, grouping, color harmony, composition, lighting (natural light or electronic) as well as basic photography knowledge and just want a quick buck. They are cheap and the results definitely show this, sadly.

    I tried to put them at ease, went over details, sent them my clothing guide, explained the process of how I work and then there was just one more detail to work out; the location. They didn’t want to be far from home and they had no idea where they wanted the portrait to be taken. They knew it had to be nice as the portrait they were replacing measured a large 30×40. Large portraits demand beauty and planning since the final image will be displayed for years.

    I went driving near their home and found a spot, on the side of a relatively busy street believe it or not! I messaged the client how it looked. Here is a screenshot of a video I sent their way. The video I sent essentially said, “I found a great spot, just trust me!”



    They trusted me.


    On the day after Christmas, I arrived at the location and set up the necessary equipment. Everyone arrived and I set up the group. Here is how it looked straight out of the camera.


    This Las Vegas family portrait still needed some artwork!

    There’s definitely room for improvement here. The road behind them is distracting, the street lights are unsightly and the buildings in the distance do it no justice. My beauty dish lighting the group did a wonderful job of evenly lighting the group but I don’t think we’d want to keep the light stand in the final portrait would we?

    Luckily, I anticipated all of this and knew what would need to be done before I ever snapped the shutter. Here are the final results:

    las vegas family portrait photographer summerlin group outside big

    Ahhhhh. That’s better, isn’t it? The overcast that day made it convenient tonally but the sky was washed out and lacked detail. I didn’t want to add any clouds that were TOO dramatic but opted to insert a few into the sky that looked natural, unassuming and kept the image looking fresh. The street was replaced with the native plants that were there and the power lines and buildings were eliminated. The light of mine was also taken away. A total of roughly 13 or so faces were swapped from other photographs to make sure everyone was happy with their expressions and the young man in the middle of the back row was lowered a little to not be distracting from everyone else. This portrait now hangs on their wall as a lovely 30×40 masonite-mounted canvas with protective coating in a gold frame.

    This, and all of the families I photograph, are truly an honor for me to work on. I enjoy the challenges each one offers and the creation process is very fulfilling for me. I look forward to this season’s family portraits! Please give me a call at (702)809-9763 as soon as you can so we can plan your portrait. I’m excited to meet you!


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