Critique and feedback on headshots

kylerpiercings

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Hello! I'm looking to get critique on my headshots. I've recently kind of exploded with headshot work and I'm just kind of learning as I go. Here's two that I've done recently and I'd like to know what could have been better.
 

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goodguy

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Love the guys portrait, he has a great look in his eyes but I have a feeling you used a wide lens as his nose seems un-proportionally sticking out, what lens did you use on it ?

As for the girl, its ok, not standing out.
 

goodguy

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Ah I just checked and I see you used the Nikon 50mm on the guys picture, well the 50mm on FX camera isnt ideal, try a minimum of 85mm to get the nose sticking more inside the face, sorry I know there is a better term for this but I forgot it, English is my second language :)
 
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kylerpiercings

kylerpiercings

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Haha, actually he's just has a big french nose. it was shot at 70mm on a tamron 24-70 f/2.8.
 
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kylerpiercings

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Ah! you're right actually. I forgot about that. usually i'm either using my 80-200 at 200 or 24-70 at 70.
 

astroNikon

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#1 - you can see his face in focus .. mostly. As you go back things go OOF.
Check your DOF - looks like f/1.8
but if you used a f/2.8 lens then it probably was 2.8

# 2 I see the same OOF issues from the right to the left shoulder. Though the face is in focus except for back of head. personal preference --> I also make sure the ear closest is visible so the hair is pushed back so the hair is on one the far side and draped down that side only.

caveat - I'm not a pro .. but I do ppl portrait from time to time.
 

tirediron

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In addition to Astro's excellent critique, my thoughts. Guy: Good exposure, pose & expressionm but IMO, the DoF is too thin, and the crop is awkward; the little bit of handkerchief and bare arm are annoying. Gal: Highlights too hot and WB appears a bit too warm. Her expression is good, but your shooting position (from above) has placed her in a subservient position. Unless specifically desired, headshots should always be either straight in to the subject's eyes, or from slightly below (CEOs, "power portraits", etc).
 

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are you applying smoothing/glow/NR of sorts on these?
 
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kylerpiercings

kylerpiercings

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In addition to Astro's excellent critique, my thoughts. Guy: Good exposure, pose & expressionm but IMO, the DoF is too thin, and the crop is awkward; the little bit of handkerchief and bare arm are annoying. Gal: Highlights too hot and WB appears a bit too warm. Her expression is good, but your shooting position (from above) has placed her in a subservient position. Unless specifically desired, headshots should always be either straight in to the subject's eyes, or from slightly below (CEOs, "power portraits", etc).

I definitely see how the position of the face can be a drawback depending on the intention. and I have not post cropped either of these, and I agree about the male headshot and had planned to crop in a bit.

#1 - you can see his face in focus .. mostly. As you go back things go OOF.
Check your DOF - looks like f/1.8
but if you used a f/2.8 lens then it probably was 2.8

# 2 I see the same OOF issues from the right to the left shoulder. Though the face is in focus except for back of head. personal preference --> I also make sure the ear closest is visible so the hair is pushed back so the hair is on one the far side and draped down that side only.

caveat - I'm not a pro .. but I do ppl portrait from time to time.

Is there such things as too thin of a DOF on a headshot? As long as the eyes are in focus I haven't seen much of an issue, but this is why I am here, to learn.

are you applying smoothing/glow/NR of sorts on these?
No, only light spot removal.
 

astroNikon

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Is there such things as too thin of a DOF on a headshot? As long as the eyes are in focus I haven't seen much of an issue, but this is why I am here, to learn.
Depends what you are looking for and style.
Her right eyebrow is actually OOF if you look closely
whereas the front of her hair on her right, which is about the same plane of focus with the eyes is in focus.

With both of her eyes being level to the plane of focus it works to get both eyes in focus.

It's just something to watch for depending upon your style.
I did shoot the other weekend where I was in f/1.4 with both eyes on the same focus plane for artistic purposes, I also did the shot at f/2.8 and 5.6 for comparison.

FWIW- just being picky here and identifying potential issues. If the client likes it then all is fine.
 

tirediron

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...Is there such things as too thin of a DOF on a headshot? As long as the eyes are in focus I haven't seen much of an issue, but this is why I am here, to learn.
Absolutely there is. What many people fail to understand is that 'headshot' is a very generic term, which in reality is sub-divided into a number of categories, much like 'facial tissue' could include 2-ply, 3-ply, with lotion, unscented, etc, etc, etc... You need to know what the headshot is for; one being used for promotional purposes by a stand-up comedian will be vastly different than one for the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, which will be different again from that of John Q. Bloggins Linkdin Profile.

I might use this sort of razor-thin DoF if I were doing some avante-garde headshots for a fashion model, but really, for almost all others I would shoot at f5.6 - 8; sufficient to ensure that pretty much the whole head & face is in sharp focus. Generally speaking headshots aren't really "artsy", and the expression, camera position, and lighting all play a huge part in what many assume is a simple "turn this way" *Click* .... done sort of process.
 
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kylerpiercings

kylerpiercings

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I understand that different clients/situations have different needs. And thank you all for the critique!

Any comments on the lighting?
 

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I have not ready anybody else's comments, so sorry if I repeat what somebody might have already said. On the shot of the man, the lighting is strange; his eyes are almost colorless and almost featureless. The catchlight placement is oddly low, and the eyes are dark, and look like a taxidermy glass eyeball...very unappealing. If windows are the ey into the soul...this guy's a mounted buck deer head. I don;t like what looks like a baseboard heater in the one area behind, nor the bit of pocket square showing....with a short-sleeved shirt? The low catchlight due to the low main light also lights up his neck too much. The lit-up frontal planes of his forehead, the dead eyes, the yellow top light on his hair, yellow light on his shoulders, ...just not feeling this one as a headshot. His head looks incredibly, incredibly skinny, and the 3:2 frame aspect ratio and your straight-on lighting angle, both make that even worse.

The woman has the opposite issue: too prominent on the catchlights. The rounded under-chin reflector's signature catchlight look is unappealing to me. The camera is way high up AND she's also placed way too low in the frame. Look at where her chine, eyes, and top of the hair are--all three of them, within the size frame you used. Her chin is "dragging"... her eyeballs are wayyy too close to the middle height of a 3:2 frame.

Her patterned scarf and hot lighting on the cheeks, and the dual, stacked figure-eight catchlight is a very off look. The fly-away hairs needed to have been smoothed, or cloned out carefully in post. Style the hair on the ends of the A-line cut at the shoulder. The scarf is a very distracting, boldly-patterned one, and it is a very strong, disturbing element.

Both of these have the chest plane and the facial plane in alignment, with the light smacking them both square in the chest...very unfeminine for her, and visually boring....a headshot needs to be dynamic in lighting...having the chest and the face in the same axis on a woman looks masculine, and dull.

Despite my dislike for the lighting used in the shot iof the guy--HE looks very well-groomed,l coiffed, and presented pretty well. The woman's photo OTOH, her shot is a trainwreck, it really is. Just so many really basic, fundamental elements violated, to no creative redemption. His shot, although *I* might not like the choices made in light, is much closer to a decent headhshot.

If you want to use that light--use the Iris Enhance tool, and the dodge tool in Lightroom, and get some iris and pupil showing, and get some eye color in the eyeballs!
 

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