Head shots The art of a difficult simplicity / by Leroy Mikell

Syracuse Student and performing artist Jay Foss poses for a headshot for M2S photo in Syracuse NY

     The strangest thing for me as a commercial clicker was learning that I was the one that had to direct the show.  Previously I thought you hire amazing talent setup a light and do the photojournalist fly on the wall thing until something awesome happened.  If you look at magazines you can forget that every person in the world is awkward in front of a camera and my previous thoughts were not that far off from what people think.  

However the reality is the majority of the images we see everyday are visions and works of the photographer.  There are very few accidents.

Given the time to setup lights and relieve all of my worry and nerves before a shoot, I am free to study the person and plan my attack and scheme on making them forget the reason we are talking for a split second.  A headshot on its face, (pun intended) is nothing more than making a person comfortable and making a shot when they forget about the soul-snatcher machine on the tripod in front of them.  This is because in that moment you catch them being honest and their real world defense (their cool) is down for the slightest moment.

A toddler a child a teen a college kid or a full blown adult that owns a washer and dryer will all sit in front of a white backdrop and look at you like you should say cheese or tickle them or something.  Professional models will ask you for directions and a hefty check for making Your vision a reality.   Everyone wants to make you ask for what you want and for you to make them look as good as they can possibly look.

I am starting to think the head shot is easy because I don't really have to have a concept for you as a viewer to figure out.  I just have to introduce you to a new personality using the split second I had them be honest with me.  If you want to get good at this I suggest jobs in sales because it is working for me. If you cannot read people social cues or tell when a person is uncomfortable or done for the day there is a different lane of photography suited for you like landscapes or still photography. 

My goal is to start entering headshot competitions.  The state fair is coming and that will be my first.  If you know of any others please reach out.  I don't care it seems like I can win or not, I just want to put my shots in next to the best of the best and not be chuckled off the screen for now.

 I want to use this new found talent to start cashing a few checks.  I have found that I have the technical know how and personality to pull off great photos of people and I am taking commissions for that type of work. 


Here are a few samples