Four Keys to Headshot Photography Part Four


Four Keys to Headshot Photography by Orange County Photographer, Mark Jordan Photography

Four Keys to Headshot Photography Part Four – Author, Michael Robertson “The Brothers of Baker Street”

Today, we are going to discuss the Four Keys to Headshot Photography Part Four – the final factor to making your headshots stand out the crowd: Expression! Expression! Expression!

Though my four part series is designed to be read independently from each other, I do recommend at least reading the preface to Four Keys to Headshot Photograph Part One, Planning. It’s a short introduction, setting the stage for the series.

To date, of the Four Keys to Headshot Photography, we have covered the first three:


Last but foremost, we are ready to discuss expression – the Ex-Factor! Though you may have heard me say this before, it bears repeating: the three most vital elements of a portrait are: 1. Expression, 2. Expression; and 3. Expression. I cannot be any more emphatic than that. I don’t care how masterfully the other elements have been executed, if expression is not there, it’s nothing but dross.

Point made.

Four Keys to Headshot Photography by Mark Jordan Headshot Photographer

Four Keys to Headshot Photography Part Four – Model Headshot Portait

Generally speaking, we tend to correlate expression with smile. Expression, however, is much more than a smile, it’s encompasses every facial feature and how they collaborate in harmony to articulate a unified message. That message must be one that says, “I am competent. I can be trusted. You’re safe with me.” It’s that inexplicable factor which connects the subject to the viewer. It’s the ex-factor.

Four Keys to Headshot Photography by Mark Jordan Headshot Photographer

Business Portrait Headshot

Easy enough, right? Just sit in front of anyone with a lens to their eye and smile. Sounds silly, I know, but you would be amazed by how many people contact me and share a similar appraisal of all they need. Their inquiry of an affordable headshot is frequently sprinkled with the requisite of “simple.” And though I would never attempt to sway an inquiring client from their initial sense of what a “simple” photographs entails, for our informative purposes here, capturing an expression that stands out from the crowd, though simple in design and sincerity of expression, ’tis far from simple in execution.

FYI: those of you looking for an outstanding Headshot, as well as the photographer looking to discover how better to approach them, I’d like to share a little secret: 95% of the photographer’s craft is determined by what goes on inside one’s noggin. That’s right, capturing expression is a function of understanding – it’s the psychology of it all.

The second secret I’d like to pass long is the Four Keys to Headshot Photography Part Four is regarding the nature of “capturing” expression. This might come as a shock, but in reality, we don’t capture expressions at all. If anything, they’re released. We create an atmosphere whereby a client feels free to allow you see them – they trust you.

Four Keys to Headshot | Part Four by Photography by Mark Jordan Headshot Photographer

Actor’s Headshot – Four Keys to Headshot Photography Part Four

The confusion in our profession is that we photographers are so intent on extracting and recording, we are oblivious that what we’re working towards is already there!

It’s our goal then to do what it takes to release what’s lying dormant. How we go about this wonderful pursuit is the material for yet another blog (or could be had for taking me out for lunch – i.e. LOYD – Lunch On Your Dime).

Therefore, and briefly stated, the best “Headshot” photographers are those who are able to either step inside the client’s shoes or crawl inside their visual cortex and see their world through their eyes. This demands that we become a student of not only the mind but of the heart.

An exceptional headshot photographer then, not only excels at the complexities of light quality, but makes it their life’s passion to understand the human heart. Fail at this, and no matter how superior one’s technical skills, such photographs will be void of their very substance.

Orange County Headshots by Orange County Family Portraits, Mark Jordan Photography

Headshot for Jack Durish – Author: “Rebels On the Mountain”

However, were this all that’s demanded of the headshot photographer, it would be relatively basic. And as much as I hate to throw in the proverbial monkey-wrench, the final key component is speed. As crucial as understanding the human heart is, the essence of headshot photography (i.e. photographing the busy lives of those who keep our economy thriving) is to do so quickly.

Not only is the quintessential difference between the painter and the photographer the moment, it’s also vital to keep in mind the practicalities: business people view their time away from their passion as a bother – it’s necessary, but an inconvenience, nonetheless.

A wise and skillful headshot photographer would do best to take everything they know, seal it air tight in a baggie, and go about their releasing expressions in a timely fashion.

This Concludes Four Keys to Headshot Photography Part Four

As aways, should you have any questions, remember, no concern is too small.

Four Keys to Headshot Photography by Mark Jordan Headshot Photographer

Dante – Business Headshot – Four Keys to Headshot Photography Part Four

So then, when it is all said and done, how might a Headshot photographer know that the session went well?

A successful Headshot photographer is one who often hears from his clients: “My goodness, THAT was quick/fun!” Or my favorite: “Boy, that was painless!” Should you be fortunate to hear these compliments, or variations thereof, count yourself a blessed photographer – move on, and then repeat for a lifetime.

Should you like to learn more than Four Keys to Headshot Photography Part One was able to convey,  you might want to inquire about my LOYD Program (lunch on your dime). Should you wish to then learn in a more intensive course, my consulting fees are reasonable. I am passionate about sharing my knowledge.

Anyone wishing to explore the possibility of having our studio create their professional headshot, the next step is to either contact us by email or give us a call (949.888.8071). I’ll spend whatever time it takes to familiarize you with prices and process, as well as arrange a time to meet and discuss your Headshot needs

Mark Jordan
Master Craftsman Photographer
American Society of Photographers
International Photography Hall of Fame & Museum
Orange County Photographer of the Year
3-Time Honoree -EPCOT’S World’s Greatest Photographers Exhibit

When looking for a professional Orange County Family Portraits photographer, or Orange County Headshots Photographer please call 949-888-8071 or complete our online request form.

Four Keys to Headshot Photography Part Four

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