How Do I Take Unconventional Headshots?

So, a couple of weeks ago I was approached by a Ratchet + Wrench magazine to take some usual headshots of a mechanic, for their magazine. How do I take unconventional headshots was my first question? Normally, I put someone on a stool or have him or her stand with a background and viola! You have a headshot. But this needed to be different and I needed to pop.

I took a look at the shot list they had provided. They wanted some shots around the shop, some elevated, some with other co-workers, some working, some posed and some on a seamless back ground. I knew that taking a seamless background to the business wouldn’t be a viable solution, since there wasn’t enough space and let’s face it; it’s not the cleanest of environment. So I offered that the candidate would come to my studio. He agreed. Here are some additional tips that might help you:

Share sample poses ahead of time, so that they will see what looks good.

Go to the location, if possible and do a walk-through. This will help you put your shot list together. This also allows you to take some sample shots, as well as get the cameral setup, without looking like you don’t know what you are doing.

Google it. The internet is your friend so use it. Many times, I go to the Internet in search of ideas for sample poses.

Share some sample poses with your model/subject ahead of time, so they have an idea of what you are looking for.

One of my favorites phrases, “Be Prepared”. Clean and inventory your equipment the day before. You don’t want to arrive on location, just to find out that your lenses have seen better days or that you forgot to bring extra batteries.

If you are shooting in a studio, test everything to make sure it works. I did and realized that one of my flashes needed it’s batteries refreshed.

Arrive to the studio location 15 to 20 minutes early, in case you need to do any last minute paperwork or changes.

Take a moment to have your models sign his or her release forms.

Be flexible, if your model/subject has an idea try it. Remember film is free these days.

Review your shot list to make sure you got everything. You don’t want to start editing, just to find out you missed a shot on the list.

The model arrived at 07:30, which was a bit early, but I had to accommodate his schedule and we got to work. Everything was setup and tested, so we spent about 15 minutes in studio. In the afternoon, I went to the shop and finished the shoot. All in all it was a lot of fun. I got a chance to see a mechanic in action, learn some new things, and make some new friends. What else can you ask for? Just remember to be social, but with limits.

I hope I have not bored you too much. I had a lot of fun writing this one like all of my blogs. I trust I have given you some valuable tips to think about, before planning your next shoot. It’s not all bad, just be clear and informative, it will save you a lot of headaches. Remember nothing is set in stone and there is not a perfect formula, so go out and have some fun.