“They all look the same”. I heard a person at the conference I attended say this to his friend as we were walking by Peter Hurley’s workshop. Slowing down and turning ever so slightly to this gentleman I responded, “Totally different, each picture is totally different from the other”. He turned away, I kept walking and wondered how can someone be so close minded as to not appreciate the subtleties the human face has to offer.

I have been pursuing the art of head shot photography for about six months now which just happens to be half of the twelve months since I began pursuing serious photography. The subtleties are the exact reason I have chosen head shots to be my main point of focus…. The difference between a bad shot and a good shot, even a good shot and a great shot can literally be a matter of millimeters of facial movement. Nailing this expression is a joy to behold. Reviewing the expressions can also be cause for a good laugh as well. It is like one of those books where if you turn the pages fast the story plays out before your eyes.

Using my wife as an example, these shots are taken within a nineteen second time period. I think that having a family member in front of your camera is much more difficult than a client when you are trying to pull out an expression. My wife was much more cooperative than my young teenage daughter though, I really thought it would be the other way around. Still, they seem to put a force field of no emotion up in front of the camera that is exceedingly difficult to crack.

I have no recollection of what I was saying during this time frame, all is I know is that whatever it was some of it worked, and some did not. I was probably making a fool of myself. She despises the camera and both of them are very good at avoiding it. And they keep their mouth forced shut!  But this was an actual request which I was very happy to fulfill.

In position and ready to go, trying for the serious look, ha! Little did she know. Notice mouth curled down, eyes flat. Not happy at all to be doing this. I think I was working her prior to this series, the picture before this was 45 seconds prior. Trying to get rid of this look.

Into position

Whatever I said in the three second period here I will never know. But a step forward, mouth curled up, though still a bit tense, little rise in the cheeks, eyes still flat


Working the eyes, a little too much, mouth still tense, overcompensating from direction. Looks like I did not even develop this one


A little smooth talking and suddenly the eyes taking shape, she’s still holding back on me though


Gotcha! And there she is, Genuine and happy, head forward,chin and jaw visible


Probably should have went with it some more, but praise is good. I think in this case it was congratulations, I knew you could do it. Eyes and mouth slightly dropped, head coming up, back to far.


Head shots are a representation of you. The purist form of representation available. Just you, your eyes, your mouth, your hair, your chin, your head. A tremendous story is told by this simple yet entirely complex form of photography. How you see yourself or how someone might see you, what you are saying to the world.

A job you seek as a performing artist or a business owner seeking new clients may depend upon your look and I am confident and pleased that I know this look and how to pull it out of you.Many people are incorporating head shots in their social media profiles as well. Now if I could just have the patience to get a selfie.

So I will continue to hone my craft and continue to help get people auditions just based on their head shots. I will be partaking in one of Mr. Hurley’s workshops in a few months to really ramp things up. It is a very satisfying feeling to have, to know that you have helped someone work towards their goal. And that is what life is about, recognizing the subtleties, the little changes and how they can have such a huge effect on an outcome.

Naturally my wife does not like how she looks in her pictures, and of course being a good husband I disagree with her and think otherwise….as do all of her friends and family.

To see some of my head shots just go here. I am still building my portfolio so if you reside in Central NJ and have a goal you need to reach just give me a shout!

Thanks for stopping by! Till next time…

Published by Phil Shepherd

Capturing my interpretation of this world and its inhabitants... I am a Headshot and Portrait Photographer and supporter of Live, Local Music. This offering is dedicated mainly to Mom Nature and the travels I indulge in with her.

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