Headshots – Lara McIvor

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Lara’s mum Gemma got in touch a couple of weeks ago.  She had been told to contact me after her daughter, Lara attended a workshop at Cinemagic in Belfast. Headshots was one of the topics they covered.

The workshop was taking the students through several aspects of life in Theatre.  One of the showcase students they had in for the day was a young guy called Francis.  I took his head shots months ago and Cinemagic used his headshot as an example of how they should be done.

With Lara having to come down from Londonderry it took a while to get our diaries aligned but eventually we met.

I got the use of some space over at Queens to set up the studio.

After talking to agents in theatre Gemma and Lara both agreed they wanted very simple images.  This was Lara’s first proper head shot session.  Any previous images she used for casting calls she used photos she had taken by herself via a timer.

The first set of shots were the most simple.  I had a lastolite pop up background set up behind Lara with the black side up.

Lara was standing about 10 feet from the background and i had one speedlight fitted with an umbrella to her front.  I think its very important when your having your head shots taken that you get a variety of images.  So if your a girl you can do loads of things with your hair.  But simple things like smiling can alter an image drastically.

I always try to mix up the ‘serious’ and smiling photos.  Once you make the subject start smiling for long periods of time their face can actually cramp so switching between the two can help prevent this.

Black & White or Colour is always a tricky one.  Honestly its a personal choice or in some cases it depends where your CV is being sent too.  Lara needed her shots in B&W but she got in touch with me after the shoot to say her agent needed a couple of colour images as well.  I take the images in RAW so its easy to do both during the post processing stage.

In my opinion head shots should be simple, clear and sharp.  A casting director will be flicking through tens or maybe even hundreds of CVs and one of the easiest things to get right and to make yours stand out is the photo.

So when i am taking photos i always take the shot with the subject looking straight at me.  I never take photos with the subject looking over their shoulders or up or down at extreme angles.  They look too overworked.  Look straight on and it to the lens.

As these were Lara’s first professional head shots i wanted to make sure they would last so i got Maria in to apply a little bit of make up and just tame Lara’s hair.  When i say little i mean little!  If you are going to get your head shots done girls, don’t go looking like your off out on the town!  You want a neutral complexion so a little make up is best.

If you have any natural marks or scars don’t cover them up.  If you get selected to attend a casting call and you have carried out extensive photoshopping on the image the director may be surprised when you turn up that you have got worse skin in real life.

In short head shots should not lie for you.  They are to reflect you looking as natural as possible!

For all of the shots i used the 70-200 VR F2.8 lens.  Anything shorter means you have to stand close to the subject and you could end up distorting the head size which can mean crazy looking images.  I like using the lens at F2.8 or 3.2 as it makes the edges of the face and hair slightly blurry thus focusing your gaze to the subjects eyes.


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