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Headshot Evolution

When your daughter gets her hair done, and you’re a photographer, there’s only one thing to do: headshots!


© Donald J. Fadel, Jr. |

© Donald J. Fadel, Jr. |

© Donald J. Fadel, Jr. |

I do prefer landscape orientations, which fit better with contemporary presentations (web). These can be cropped, however, to fit everything from traditional portrait presentations to the square crop of Instagram:

© Donald J. Fadel, Jr. |

I wouldn’t call her a guinea pig, but I owe much of the evolution of my style to shoots like this. I wouldn’t experiment or tweak with a client, but daughters are fair game!

My basic style really hasn’t changed much, but tweaks are inevitable. I have been influenced by specialist such as Peter Hurley, but also by my roots in beauty with influences such as Don Giannatti.

For young women, I prefer the classic beauty dish as key, though I use a slightly smaller one than is traditional. My taste has evolved from the 22″ to the 17″ Elinchrom MiniSoft, with silver deflector.  The dish itself is still white. Fill is a single white reflector (the recent evolution from the Triflector), also white. This combination produces the light falloff and shaping that I prefer, with classic beauty lighting on the planes of the face and strong – yet diffuse – chin shadow.

Shot on white with a kicker to the side to add highlight, having a set lighting situation allows me the freedom to extract what I’m really looking for in a headshot – the personality of my subject presented confidently, and attractively.

My retouch for women aims for realism, yet approaches a beauty retouch. I don’t remove permanent features. Yet it is meticulous, handcrafted, with years of experience behind it. It is however natural – important in this age of over-the-top retouching that results in “plasticky” skin with no pores; you might not even recognize the person in the image. This is a problem when used for professional work (auditions, modeling work, etc.).

Men require less retouching (sorry, ladies, but true). I light differently, too, slightly more contrast and direction to the light.

A good headshot is one of the most powerful weapons in the arsenal of a dancer, model, and actor. In these days of social media presence, they are becoming more important for business as well. Get one! And get a good one!

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