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The photographer finally gets shot.

May 23, 2011 Published by . Leave your thoughts

What kind of decent headshot photographer would I be if I didn’t have an updated headshot of myself? Last week I teamed up with fellow Chicago photographer Johnny Knight to take some self-inflicted headshots of each other. Johnny is a great photographer and a great friend- possibly the only person I would trust to take my photo. Yes, you inferred correctly from that statement: Michelle Kaffko the portrait photographer hates having her portrait taken.

Last week’s photo shoot reminded me of how difficult it can be to have your photo taken. Every bad photo I’ve ever seen of myself flashed in front of my eyes like a near-death experience, and you can see it in the first 15-20 photos that were taken: I’m rigid, uncomfortable, and forcing a smile. It wasn’t until I remembered the things I tell my clients when I’m taking their photos and they clam up in camera fear that I was able to relax and look more comfortable in the photos.

Johnny and I both designed our own shots and set everything up so the other just had to snap the shutter- I guess you can call them “assisted self portraits” in that way. Johnny’s represents his work in theatrical photography, standing on the seats of an empty theatre. Mine reflects my work in filmmaking- using that same theatre as a movie theatre and a light behind me almost like a film projector for one of them.

How young is too young for retouching?

May 7, 2011 Published by . Leave your thoughts

How young is too young for retouching their photos? Good question, right? A lot of time we think of retouching our headshots as a way to remove the things we hate about our own faces. Dark circles under our eyes, coffee-stained teeth, blemishes, freckles, scars, or even… wrinkles. Hell, you should see what I do to my own photos.

So what happens when a 12 year old comes into my studio for headshots and she is wowed by the differences in the “before” and “after” photos on my website and wants her own photo retouched? Since we usually think of retouching as a way to make us look younger, prettier, more handsome, and more perfect in our photos; it’s hard to apply that to a photo of a young girl. We want to tell all young people that they’re pretty and perfect the way they are.

But I don’t think of retouching a headshot as a way to disguise our supposed flaws and make us look better than we already look. I think of retouching as a way to maximize the potential of that first-impression-via-photo and to minimize the things that pop out in our photos when they’re not really supposed to. When you take something 3-dimensional like a human face and make it 2-dimensional into a photograph, you’re going to notice things you don’t usually notice when you’re looking at someone in person. Things like shadows, stained teeth, blemishes, hairs out of place, fuzzies on our sweaters… When we’re looking at someone in person our eyes filter through these things to see the person as he or she is: just the person and not the shadows under their eyes.

So there’s nothing wrong with whitening the teeth of a 12 year old in her headshot. Especially when she drank some Kool-aid on her way to the studio.

It’s like going to Costco and buying bulk, right?

May 2, 2011 Published by . Leave your thoughts

I can think of no greater bonding experience between father and daughter than getting headshots taken together. Okay, I guess it’s not exactly a game of catch in the backyard… but pairing up for a headshot session is a great way to spend some quality time getting something done that you’ve both been putting off for a while.

The other day I took these headshots for a father/daughter duo who both needed some headshots for LinkedIn and company websites. And their first question was a question I actually get quite a lot: “if we come together, can we get a discount?”

And the answer I give is always, “yes.” Partnering with someone for a headshot session is a great way to get a thorough headshot session for yourself and your comrade, while saving the photographer time and money in setting up the studio equipment and readying everything for a session. A good photographer will pass this savings onto you and give you a “bulk” discount.