Tip Of The Head

Metro Detroit Michigan Headshot Photography by Mary DuPrie

I’ve posted a couple of images I shot last week for Elizabeth to send into the local modeling agencies.  I’ve shot her before so I didn’t feel the need to talk about what to bring… hummm.  We were shooting three looks, one being a headshot.  Mom showed up with one top.  That’s it.  The problem was it had what looked like two large light blue doilies sewn onto it.  Blue was good, doilies bad.  The distraction factor was a 10.  In person it looked great, but I knew it wouldn’t photograph well.  I like the face to be the brightest in the image and tunnel the viewers eyes right to the face.

The shot on the left shows too much body and top.  I don’t pose models and have them constantly moving.  I try and have them stand on a slight angle to make the body smaller, but it’s almost impossible to get them to stay that way.  Eventually they stand straight to the camera and I have to show them the sideways look again.  I love love love showing them the tip of the head.  I think it really shows personally and vibe.  So the shot on the right is a clear winner for an agency headshot.  This shot doesn’t show her teeth but another shot does.

One solution was to turn the top backwards as shown on the left.  Results are so so.  The second solution was to dive into my wardrobe and see what we could come up with.  I don’t have clothing for her age so it was going to be tricky.  Well lo and behold Mom spotted this blue jean vest and I knew it would photograph great.  Salvation Army $4. clipped like crazy in the back.  Blue jean jackets and vests photograph great.  They have lots going on but somehow read as a neutral.  Our eyes seem to cancel everything out.

The blue top was donated by a model.  If you put the word out you would be surprised what people will bring you.  If you test you could trade for all kinds of stuff.  When I shot kids in the past my deal was the parents had to donate a few cute outfits to my wardrobe collection.  Win win.


I have a few close photographer friends and we talk about the biz all the time.  And I have to say it’s seldom about actual “photography”… as in, how to take photographs.  We talk about everything else.  “Back when” it was all about “how” to take pictures, not now.  This business is a big fat monster.  If you don’t work on your business in some way full time you’re actually going “backwards”.  You are not standing still, as in holding your own.  No, no, no.  Others are passing you all the time, thus, you’re going backwards.

If you’re waiting around for the phone to ring because you take great pictures, you’re delusional.

I read, or interpreted, something very important last week.  Basically it says if you’re complaining about a customer, it’s because of you, not them.  It’s because you didn’t have your paperwork in order.  You haven’t crossed your t’s and dotted your i’s.  When you read on a forum about a photographer ranting about a bad customer… I interpret it, bad photographer.  I’ve been guilty of it myself, but now I see the error of my ways.

It’s because pictures can’t and don’t do all the talking.  And even talking isn’t enough.  You must write it down… black and white.  Refund policies, cancellations, deposits, time spent, directions, how to get into the building, how many outfits do you need, how long does the shoot usually take, who can you bring with you, when will the shoot be finished, how do I print them, what’s a printing release, what’s a product commitment, how are you going to pay me the balance, when are you going to pay me the balance… the list is insanely long.

If you have unhappy customers and I hear you complaining… it might be you, btw, my photographer friends don’t complain.  It’s amateur forums that I see ranting going on, and other amateurs coming to their defense.  That horrible client!  Sometimes it’s hysterical.   (Ok… and some pro’s and semi pro’s)

I’ve decided it’s me, I take the blame (sometimes secretly)   I take a lot of things for granted because I know how I run my business… others don’t.  I’m going to work on some snazzy paperwork.  Especially the part when and how they pay me and I’m going to work on making it easier to pay me!  I need to take credit cards over the phone… it’s way overdue.

Wow, this turned into a long post.  I don’t like finding a lot of info on someones website.   I don’t want my pricing info to like like an attorney drew it up either.  But none the less I need to have it written down.  More info on how to get ready and what’s expected for the shoot day is a must… as in more than one top for a one look shoot.

3 comments category: Headshots,Photographing models

1 Fred Guerra October 27, 2010 at 12:16 pm

You’ve piqued my curiosity again. I’m interested in shooting children for agency work. Do you have the parent or a MUA apply the makeup?

I have an 11-y.o. niece whose grandmother (on the in-laws’ side) dolls her up to look like she’s in a pageant. How much is too much makeup for a child wanting agency heads hots? If it’s enough to notice, is it too much?

Thanks for all of your help. You’re truly an inspiration!


2 Mary DuPrie October 27, 2010 at 11:19 pm

Hey Fred
The least amount the better. sometimes it’s easy to go too glammy. the more natural the better. it also depends how many looks you have to submit. if it’s only one look keep it natural.


3 Detroit People Photographer Blake Discher October 27, 2010 at 5:54 am

I remember an expression from when I worked in corporate America selling franchises for a leading printing franchise. It seems like we had meetings all the time in the conference room. The expression was, “if you look around the room and can’t find the a**hole, it just might be you.” Your words about us being to blame for “lousy clients” rings true. If your gut tells you someone is going to be a problem client, you should walk away. Ask me how I know. And though it’s easier and ego-soothing to blame them for being a jerk, in your heart of hearts you know you had all the warning signs but chose to work with them anyway. Good post about the reality of this business Mary.


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