Where did the top of my head go?
Here’s a question that I get from many clients: “If these are headshots, why didn’t you include my whole head?” Fair point! If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, here’s a typical crop of one of our headshots for reference:
As you can see, the top has indeed been cropped off of this headshot. But this is not a mistake! If you look at any number of from my images or images from other headshot photographers in Tulsa, what stands out? Whether your answer is the eyes, expression, lighting, or something else, I can almost guarantee your answer wouldn’t be the top of the person’s head. In modern professional headshots, the reason we tend to crop in tighter and cut off the top of the image is two-fold.
First off, the eyes and facial expression are more important information to have than the upper part of the head.
Second is the fact that modern headshots are shot horizontally instead of the vertical headshots of the past.
Some people will refer to horizontal headshots as a “cinematic” style, referring to movies and television which are shot horizontally in a 16:9 aspect ratio (just think of how your television is shaped, or the shape of your phone when you turn it sideways). So, in order for the eyes to be in the ideal viewing placement and for the headshot to have the most visual impact, (top third of the image – known as “rule of thirds”) we crop in closer.
Yes, but I want my whole head
You’re not alone! Even when I explain this to clients, some people still request that their entire head be left in their headshots. This comes down to personal preference and I am happy to accommodate. This is something I go over with clients in the initial consultation because it will impact how I shoot the session. If a client is adamant about this, I simply shoot a little bit wider during the session. This ensures that the eyes are still in the top of third of the image for maximum impact while allowing the top of the head to remain in the image. Other headshot photographers in Tulsa may not give you this option if they aren’t familiar with your needs.
What do you recommend?
Many clients come to my studio in Tulsa with one goal – getting a great professional headshot. As one of the only headshot photographers in Tulsa, I get a lot of business clients who don’t know what kind of crop they want and they tell me to do what I think is best. For the vast majority of people, I recommend doing the “cinematic” crop. It gets us closer to the person’s eyes and has a way of drawing viewers right into the image. Great headshots are all about creating the opportunity for genuine human connection between the person in the image and the person viewing the image. I always tell my clients that when they’re looking at their finished images, they won’t be thinking about the fact that the top of their head is not in the image. They’ll be thinking about how confident they felt in front of the camera and how natural their expressions look in their finished headshots.