What Makes A Photographer An Expert?

Why hire a photographer when you can take a picture of yourself? 

What qualities go into a professional headshot?

What can I expect from a professional session with an expert headshot photographer?

Here are my top 10 reasons for hiring an expert to take your portrait. Enjoy!

1. Hospitality and Coaching – A portrait photographer has to set the right mood. He or she should direct you in very specific language to bring out important expressions and looks. Whether you're going for a contemplative leadership look, or something more candid or joyful, the photographer should be able to spark those emotions — sort of like a film director telling an actor how to play out a particular scene in a movie. With speed and precision, he or she should capture these fleeting emotions and preserve them on film or digital files.

2. Sharpness – Our visual cortex is drawn to edges. Sharpness is the contrast between two adjacent pixels of different luminosities. Image sharpness is very important. Soft images fail to materialize on the full impact of an image. A professional photographer knows how to maximize sharpness both within the camera and during post-production. Finding the perfect balance of sharpness and blurred-out areas ("bokeh") results in eye-catching results.

3. Sensible Retouching – The zen of photography happens after the picture is taken. Master portrait artists always think about balance, particularly areas of bright and dark regions. Retouchers can tinker with saturation, hue, exposure, "dodge-and-burn", and many other properties that bring out character in a final picture.

4. Composition – A lot of people think photography can be simplified in several key concepts, like rule of thirds. Yet not a lot of photographers are completely aware of how body postures contributes to final composition. How a photographer moves people's arms, hands, shoulders, and heads can affect the sense of balance in the final image – the difference between an ordinary and truly great image.

5. Judgement – While a painter usually has only enough time to paint one version, a photographer can create many images. Choosing the right image is an important task. Thankfully, we can crowdsource our images using PhotoFeeler to determine the best image for your professional or social portrait. 

6. Lighting – Great portraits have a "3D"-like appearance by using the right kind of lights and shadows. Next time, go ask an expert photographer the difference between key, fill, and rim lights. These are the key components of studio lighting.

7. Simplicity – In the end, most pictures are viewed as thumbnails, so the portrait has to make sense at a fairly low resolution. Simplicity, expression, and elegance will have a strong effect on the viewer.

8. Options – An effective photographer will take a variety of images so that you have many options to choose from. As many internet memes go, pictures for LinkedIn are not necessarily going to work well on a dating app or social media profile. I personally try to capture many sides of each person.

9. Experience – Theory is great, but there is no substitute for experience. Lighting is not the easiest thing to understand intuitively. It takes experience and much trial-and-error to get results that are intentional and stand out from the rest.

10. Passion – Find a photographer who is passionate about their field, and isn't too afraid to get in the weeds regarding their speciality. There are photographers that only shoot cars for automobile companies. There are many photographers who specialize in weddings. A photographer who is truly passionate about his or her specialty will have a variety of images demonstrating their expertise, variety, and experimentation.

Good luck finding a photographer! Feel free to reach out, we're happy to answer any questions you have.


Last updated: 3-03-20

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