I get asked all the time "Hey, do you do professional headshots?"... and I'm here to say once and for all that no, no I do not. And let me tell you why.
I think if you're a photographer (and especially when you're first starting out) you sometimes take jobs that pay the bills but don't necessarily feed your soul. When I started my photography business, I definitely tried my hand at all the traditional paid photography jobs- headshots for real estate agents, engagement photos, pet portraits, etc. While I may not have loved all of them, they definitely taught me valuable photography skills and allowed me to find out what I'm good at and what I'm not so good at.
What I Am Good At:
I'm good at taking photos that are real, natural, and full of authentic movement and emotion. I love being present with my clients, making them feel deeply comfortable, and encouraging playful expression and vulnerability with their poses. I love creative settings and out-of-the-box, joyful sessions that leave us both feeling grateful just to be alive. I'm good at co-creating and collaborating with clients to showcase their true personalities and capture moments that represent who they are.
What I Am Not Good At:
What I'm not good at is posing people; the more I try to pose a client and aim for perfection (every hair being perfect, perfect lighting, not a thing out of place in the background, etc.), the more I overthink it. And honestly, the more I force and overthink things in a shoot, the worse the photos get. It's this reason why I now say that I don't do headshots— because the more posed and headshot-like I try to make the pictures, the worse the quality becomes.
To me, traditional headshots are the embodiment of cultivated perfectionism, and I've spent so many years in the unhappy pursuit of that goal that I know it doesn't feel good to me anymore. I actually had an experience once with after a headshot session where a woman was so unhappy about her bangs were in her face in the photos that she asked me to edit them out. I realized an important lesson in that moment—I liked my photos so much better with the bangs in the face because that's real life, that's the image I want to capture for my clients.
It doesn't feel good to force that fake, formal look—so I don't even try anymore. I'm just not good at creating the perfectly posed look required in the realm of headshots for LinkedIn and traditional business cards. Instead of aiming for (and failing to achieve) that perfectly posed perfectionism, I've learned to just let go and allow a natural sense of collaboration and creativity to flow between photographer and subject. Because that's when we get these really beautiful, natural-looking photos that are my signature style. The more both of us let go, the more my creativity and style and their personality can shine through and the easier it is to create photos that feel like magic.