You thought all I had to say about headshots was pimping Timothy Greenfield-Sanders?
TGS doesn't need any pimping... certainly not from me.
In my previous post (that's right, the one about Timothy Greenfield-Sanders and headshots) reader BigV aptly commented, "Your client gave you the secret to success. Capturing what the person is all about in a headshot is what makes a successful portrait photographer."
BigV-- Couldn't agree more, although I'm not sure a single portrait can capture what a person is *ALL* about unless, of course, they're dead, i.e., the portrait is a picture of them being dead. When someone's dead, I think you might agree, that's pretty much all there is to say about their current and ongoing condition. That's not to say how they got dead or how them being dead effects others around them can't be powerful in terms of a portrait but, when a portrait examines what an individual person is all about, and they're dead... well, dead's dead.
Portraits of dead people aside...
Portraits, good portraits, even simple (yet effective) headshots, tell the viewer something unique about their subjects. Portraits are, or should be, windows into those subject's lives. Glimpses of that which makes them tick: Their personalities, their careers, their loves, their hates, who they are, who they hope to be, and more. Hopefully, much more. Good portraits tell us something important and unique about the people in front of the lens-- Something either the subject, the photographer, or both, hope to share with that portrait's viewers.
Take the image at the top. Who *IS* this guy? Well, first off, he's my friend, Harry. But what about Harry? What does the image tell us about him? What are the visible clues that describe the "inner" Harry? (Or maybe, in Harry's case, the "outer" Harry.)
Harry's smarmy smirk probably offers some insight into his personality. The Foster Grants he's hiding behind, as well as his shirt being a little too opened, may also be tell-tale signs of what Harry is about-- Yeah, BigV, maybe even what Harry's *ALL* about.
Remember, these are headshots I'm talking about, not environmental portraits. Environmental portraits, where you place the subject in an environment that speaks volumes about them, is sometimes easier in terms of conveying insight into the subject. Sometimes. But that's a subject for another post.
Back to Harry's headshot.
Would it surprise anyone to learn, after examining Harry's headshot, that he makes his living as a talent agent? An agent, that is, of (mostly) "C" and "D" list models and actresses who spend the vast majority of their time in front cameras without their clothes on? He's also a gambler--a sort of semi-pro, backroom, poker player--and derives a fair amount of his income from that career as well.
Did the possibility of either of those aspects of Harry's life cross your mind when you viewed Harry's headshot? If not, perhaps something close or akin to those? (Or equally sleazy?) I'm guessing it did unless you perceived the image as being satiric or it being some (mostly unemployed) actor's heashot. The only thing missing in Harry's photo is a phat gold chain around his neck. (It's all in the details, right?)
Craft and tech stuff: Harry captured with my Canon 5D w/ a Canon 85mm, f/1.8 prime attached. (It's a sweet lens for portraits, especially considering the price difference between it and it's expensive relative, Canon's 85mm f/1.4 L prime.) ISO 100, f/4 @ 125. I shot Harry in the studio in front of a gray seamless. Used a 5' Photoflex Octodome for my main and a couple of kickers behind him. B&W conversion via the channel mixer method.