One of the most common comments I get at the beginning of a shoot is “make sure you don’t show my double chin!” It’s usually in semi jest but it’s certainly something that most people jump to when they look at photographs of themselves. I’m going to tell you how to get rid of it.
Everyone gets them. Heck, I’m skinny enough to hide behind a lamp post and I get them. It’s not tied exclusively to overall size or age. It’s usually not noticeable in day to day life either. I don’t want you guys to get paranoid about this stuff and be thinking about it when you’re going about your daily business. I can guarantee that nobody is looking at you at lunch and thinking “jeez, check those chins man”.
Your headshot is different though. Your headshot doesn’t have ‘life’ to distract you so we need to find a way to reduce it to get the best end result. The good news is it’s super simple to do but that said most photographers get it wrong, if they are even paying attention to it at all.
I’ve heard many a photographer tell their client to “get your chin up” but that tilts the head back and just looks plain weird. The other thing I see is photographers shooting down on their subjects from a very high angle. This makes the subject look submissive and in a commercial headshot where the main aim is to showcase confidence and expertise this isn’t a very good idea.
So how do you do it then? The trick is to bring your forehead towards the camera. Like a chicken. Yes, a chicken. You don’t have to go crazy with it and it does feel weird but the truth is if you’re not feeling odd in at least some way then your face isn’t doing anything and your expression will be blank. It has to feel weird to look good.
Here’s an example from a recent shoot of mine, a firm of local solicitors. In the first, unretouched, image he is standing ‘normally’, without any direction from me. In the second image, he is turned slightly towards the camera with his forehead brought forward. Big difference, right?
Often people will worry that the camera will see that their head is pushed forward slightly and it will look strange. A photograph is a 2D representation of a 3D reality. It cannot show the front and the side at the same time so it simply doesn’t ‘see’ what you are actually doing. Your photographer should be shooting ‘tethered’ also, which means that each image goes directly onto a computer screen so you can see a big example of the work the photographer is creating and once you see the difference you’ll understand exactly what I’m talking about.