Great Headshots with Facial Analysis

Creating a great headshot/portrait is about using the right light to sculpt your face.

Well done, well lit headshots have been around forever!

When someone comes into the studio for a “Headshots and More” session, one of the first things I decide is how to light them best.  I do this through facial analysis.

Meaning… I take a good look at your face!

At the beginning of a session, if  I don’t see what my light pattern should be right away…I  say, “Let me look at you,” and I’ll be taking a close looking at you and talking to myself (hopefully internally)!  You might ask what I’m doing, and my response, with a big smile, will be, “Looking at you.” The more curious folks will get an explanation of facial analysis and how I am interpreting  the symmetry of their face. Through this process I am able to decide which position the light would be best, and set the lights for our session…which is by far the most critical decision of a headshot photo session.

You see, everybody’s facial structure is different. When people say, “This is my best side,” it’s because of these facial irregularities that occur in every human being (with perhaps the exception of supermodels).  Some people have long faces, wide faces, short faces, while others have had broken noses, and almost everyone has one eye that is smaller than the other!  A skilled and trained photographer is able to light the face of their subject in a way that accentuates their “best side” and minimizes their little irregularities.  Great lighting can make someone’s nose appear straighter,  makes their cheeks appear wider or smaller, or by tilting the subject’s head, balance out the lack of symmetry in their eyes.

Different lighting styles include: Rembrandt lighting, short lighting, and broad lighting. Some people look their best with a Hollywood-style light.  These light styles have been around forever and are reminiscent of the old masters – hence the term “Rembrandt” lighting!

Primarily painting by one light source,  the sun, these artists they had it all figured out. By studying them, you can see the different styles of light that are still used in photography today.

Here are a couple examples of what I am talking about!

In the first test photo, the light on the right side of her face accentuated her tooth that sits back in her beautiful smile, creating a shadow.  By switching the side the light was on, as you can see in the second photo, this is no longer predominate.  A beautiful portrait!

This beautiful lady’s face is not perfectly symmetrical. Very few of us are. In the second photo, you can see how the right side is wider than the left.  Also, the left eye is smaller as well. By lighting her with the shadow falling on the wider side, and by having the left eye closest to the camera, the light and facial position create the symmetry.

Small nuances, yes, but these details take your photo to the next level.  This is what I am looking for when I do my facial analysis and custom light you in a “Headshots and More” session.

Here are some of my contemporary headshots, using customized lighting for the individual.

Would you like some more info?  Contact me at  Or call/text 416 466 0331.

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