Clean Headshot

How to Take a Clean Headshot Using Great Lighting

How to Take a Clean Headshot Using Great Lighting with Vanessa Joy

Clean headshots are a key component of an application to a modeling agency or for jobs in the acting and modeling business, but a quick snap of someone with no makeup under unflattering lighting can come out looking very rough. It’s possible to create a clean headshot that flatters the face and neck features without any makeup, just using the tools of light, shadow and strong photographic technique. Oh, and no Photoshop required either.

Learning how to take these shots is a great way to take advantage of that photography demand area, since being versatile helps you build your business and take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. Once you master this type of clean lighting, it’s easy to apply it to generic headshots that your clients will love.

While many people are justifiably nervous about being photographed with no makeup if they are accustomed to wearing makeup, it can be a great experience. By photographing to emphasize natural looks and de-emphasize imperfections, you can create an excellent clean headshot, while also wowing a client with your ability to put their best on display. 

Get Ready With Gear

Your studio lighting setup is what creates the possibility of a great clean headshot. Not only does the kind of camera, light and reflector matter, but also your own awareness of the quirks of your studio space and of your equipment. I’ll give you a rundown on what I use, but you’ll also adjust as needed for your own setup. This is even more true if shooting in someone else’s space or a rented space, since the more you control the lighting and background, the more fine-tuned changes you can make to the photos in the moment versus trying to copy and paste a process that you can’t troubleshoot if anything small changes.

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To read the full article, launch the digital version of the September 2021 magazine.