Teenage Studio Headshots – Technical Tips That Make Them Special

Senior (i.e., high school senior) portraiture photography is big business. Historically speaking it hasn’t been a big part of Nataworry’s bottom line but in the photography world it’s a big part of some photographers’ income. What’s very common these days is for kids to spend an hour or two with a photographer and end up with a series of photos where the person is in front of multiple backgrounds (at a park, an urban city setting, etc.) and has changed their outfit once or twice. It’s a far cry from when I was in high school where a photographer would set up a studio at school, take a few photos of me in a single outfit and I crossed my fingers hoping to end up with 1 keeper once the film was developed. Back in the film days there was no looking at the back of the photographer’s camera to see if I’d like a do over. This past week I met an outstanding young girl named Siva and her lovely mom Susan. They were on a deadline to get a photo of Siva for her yearbook and time didn’t permit them to seek out much more than a headshot. However they weren’t seeking to get an entirely traditional headshot taken. You know, like ones that you see in most annual school portraits. Pics that you love to have to see how kids change year over year but they’re relatively bland in nature (dated background, face is flatly lit, etc.) So it was fun to knock out a bunch of images and a quick wardrobe change in about 20 minutes that resulted in the 2 favorites of Siva’s that you see below. (Siva and her mom checked out the photos in my camera before they left the studio set-up so that they were confident they’d end up with 2 images that they’d be happy with.)

On to some technical stuff. It’s undeniably obvious to anyone who isn’t legally blind that Siva is a knockout. Something I intentionally sought to capture was catchlights in both eyes. Sometimes photographers go a wee overboard with making one side of a face darker than the other and they lose light in the eye that’s in heavy shadows and that’s a major no-no more often than not unless if you’re going for a seriously dramatic fine art look. I also made sure Siva held an upright, non-slouchy yet natural posture with her head tilted a bit to give her some shape vs. asking her to sit completely upright facing the camera dead on which only would have made her face look wide. We played with photographing her from both sides of her face using very different lighting so as to give her the most bang for her buck knowing she’d end up with 2 retouched images in the end. One is a tad more close up than the other and as a result her features look a bit different (smaller vs. larger) from image to image. What you don’t see here is skin imperfections that were a bit distracting from how stunning Siva is. Reason number #33 to hire a professional photographer who also provides retouching services. Teenage skin imperfections come and go and there’s no reason to capture them in photos that will last a lifetime. That’s enough outta me. Have a great one!

teenager headshot Seattleteenager headshot Seattle


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