Head and shoulder pictures fall short of a portrait. At least in my world and in my mind. Portraits are a notch or two more intense. A proper portrait will involve more preparation for the subject and with the setting, location and lighting. Portraits also are likely to take more effort in production. To me at least, a portrait is something you want to enlarge and hang on the wall or publish in a magazine.
But head and shoulder pictures are a different genre. Not that an excellent head and shoulders picture can’t become a portrait, but I think the two things are for different purposes and are taken in different circumstances. And head and shoulders pictures have become so much more important. Social media has spurred additional interest in the need for a good, professional-looking head and shoulders image for many people.
Professionals want a good picture to have on their Linkdin, Facebook, Twitter, blog, and web site. It needn’t be a highly stylized portrait but it must have enough polish so the viewer gets a good impression of the person. That’s where I come in, I guess. Most of the people for whom I take head and shoulders pictures are at work and take a pause to come in and get a picture taken. Most of them have made some effort to look nice but we aren’t investing a lot of time in make up and costumes. What walks through the door is what I’m going to work with.
I invest enough energy in the lighting and background so everybody gets a fair shot. I’ll spend enough time to give everybody a chance to put their best foot forward. Let’s face it, most people don’t have movie star good looks but most people have something wonderful I try to pull out. Oh, and the time issue. There is never enough, really. But I want each person to have their time and have the opportunity to chime in about wants and likes and preferences.
And people are all so different. One person will walk in, step into the lights, strike a pose, and snap – you have the picture. The next will want to stop and look at each image, worry, fuss, make a few suggestion and try again. There also are plenty of people with specific needs. Like I said, we don’t all get movie star good looks.