Head shot photography

On the weekend, our 9.5yo daughter had an audition for a child part in an upcoming Les Miserables production. Wifey had a read through the sheet with instructions about the casting audition and saw that we needed to provide a head shot. I thought “Cool! I’ll get to use my flash setup!”.

So, I set up the light stand, umbrella and the Nikon SB-600 together with my recently purchased flash umbrella swivel adapter, to take a few shots.

I used Nikon’s CLS (Creative Lighting System) to expose the shot and communicate wirelessly between the Nikon D80 body and SB-600 flash. Unfortuately, it seems to rely on using on the on camera flash firing a pre-flash to communicate with the off camera flash, so you end up with 2 flashes in the end. It worked OK on our 9.5yo, but when I took some photos of our 8yo, nearly all the shots had her blinking. She is just more sensitive to the pre-flash and ended up blinking by the time the real flash fired. Hmm.. not good. Maybe I need to invest in a Pocket Wizard or some other wireless flash communication system.

The actual shot taken also seemed to be underexposed. I wonder if the white wall was playing tricks on CLS. Nothing that a bit of post-production can’t fix.

I learnt that this type of shot is called a head shot. A head shot is basically a head only, or head and shoulders shot only, used primarily as a portfolio, casting, audition or advertising function. At first I thought a headshot is not really a creative shot, but primarily more functional. But then I thought – a creative, yet functional shot, might help the applicant stand out from the crowd – especially when a director/producer is scanning through hundreds of people who audition, or if they need to choose between people in a shortlist for a role. Seems like there is much more to it than I initially thought!

Here is the final shot we used and printed out:


And here is a more fun shot I snapped when my daughter started playing up 🙂

Fun shot
Fun shot

Anyone in Perth need a head shot?    I think I need more practice…

3 thoughts on “Head shot photography”

  1. Thanks for the comments!

    Sounds like a great idea to turn photos into hand-painted portraits. I’ll take a look!

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