Step Away From the Wall…

{One from the Drafts archive...}

Now days it’s only a matter of time before someone needs a picture or head shot of themselves. Especially in this age of social media. Yet I can’t help but wonder why people insist on taking mug shots of themselves?

Until recently A few years ago, I was responsible for the layout of a monthly newsletter for a local  non-profit organization. I can’t tell you how often I requested a digital head shot for an article only to be sent sent a picture of the person posing with other people for some special occasion – and often in some awkward angle, squeezed together with friends against a darkened background due to the little built-in-flash that was used on the camera or phone.  Not to mention a few free drinks into the whole affair.
Just crop me out” they say enthusiastically.

Yes, It’s a wonderful picture - for memories of that event - not so much for a head shot. Eight times out of ten I have to request another photo. “Please, do you have anything else we can use?…”
 And then I get it…
The mug shot photo.
Taken with a cellphone, a photo of the person standing, straight on, heals firmly planted against a plain wall in a dark room… or blinding sun. Sigh.

I took this mug shot using an old Casio EX point & shoot camera, having him stand against the wall for a “quick” picture.
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So just a few pointers for those who don’t like their picture taken - but on occasion must provide a headshot.

1) Relax and have a glass of wine  (okay I’m not condoning drinking, but a glass of wine could be nice…)
Seriously now,  first off don’t stand heals up against a wall – unless you’re in a police station really having your mug shot taken, and if that’s the case you’re most likely not reading this blog post anyway as you have a lot bigger problems than a bad picture.  But I digress. 

Usually, standing against a wall causes most people to instinctively lean their head back to the wall, losing all definition between their necks and chins.
Rather, stand a few feet out from the wall and at a slight 45 angle to the camera (this is really nice for women, men can more often get away being more square to the camera).  Also, with nicer DSLR cameras the wall can be thrown out of focus, leaving you as the focal point.

Next, give your hands something to do, it will anchor you and you will feel more relaxed.  Hook your thumbs in your pants pockets, put them on your waist (but don’t pull a Peter Pan), put one in the pocket and one on the waist, or cross your arms (this is great for men, women can lightly cup their elbows for a softer effect but I often still crop in tight not including the arms). 

Lean into the camera slightly, not far - if you fall forward, you’re leaning too much and your friend taking the picture will wonder why you are extending your neck out like a giraffe.  However,  you will be amazed at what leaning in can do, good-bye neck wrinkles and hello jaw line!

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This was taken with an old Casio EX again, not a great camera, I moved him away from the wall (but not too much to keep him in the open shade instead of the full sun) angled him and had him bring his chin forward slightly (instead of leaning into the camera) not perfect, but much better than a mug shot.

And most important, whether you stand near a wall, a tree or in the middle of a street, remind the person behind the camera to make sure that your head is in a clean spot.  I’ve also seen a lot of pictures of people with plants growing out of their heads.
And NO ONE looks good with a tree growing out of their head!

...Unless you're Groot.

Heck, you just may end up with a Smokin’ profile picture for Facebook!
Actor Headshot
Thanks to the Guy-I-Dig for being my model.

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