Culture
Posted: 2 months ago
Author: Nina Gomarteli

How to Get Good Headshots in Tbilisi

To kick off or new Photography in Focus series Ninna met with the Tbilisi-based photographer Adrian Scoffham to learn more about Headshots:

''With the recent Pandemic changing the way we do business with far less in-person face to face meetings, less travel, more video calls having a good Headshot that makes a solid first impression is increasingly important - with many Georgian businesses going online it’s more important than ever to present a professional image and that’s exactly what professional headshots will do for you.

What are Headshots? Why do they matter?

A Headshot is another word for business portrait; the word “Headshot” alone is enough to strike fear into the seasoned corporate warrior - after all, it does sound all rather violent. In reality, it’s a pleasant process where we learn about ourselves and of course, there’s an increasing need to have decent quality headshots that serve as your avatars, be that on company websites, social media and networking platforms, on print materials, or perhaps with press releases or in the media. With the recent Pandemic changing the way we do business with far less in-person face-to-face meetings, less travel, more video calls, having a good Headshot that makes a solid first impression is increasingly important.

Nathan is an author from New Zealand - he uses his headshots on his book covers

What’s the advantage of getting your own Headshots taken?

I think they most important thing is control: The beauty of the headshot is that you, the person sitting, can control all aspects of the process - that means you can choose your outfit, the type of lighting, the vibe that the photo gives off, and of course you have time to get it right. Actors are often cast for roles based on headshots - so it makes sense to have photos that are engaging.

Do people have an irrational fear of Photos?

Let’s be honest; most of us don’t like having our photograph taken - if we stop to think why then we might find some clues: often in our childhoods parents or relatives would involuntarily push cameras in our faces - the results of these well-intentioned yet also quality-compromised moments were usually not particularly pleasing to us, of course, grandmothers would coo over the results but these weren’t how we saw ourselves. For most of us, our first encounter with professional photography would have been with school photos - the battery farm of photography where there was limited time and very little interaction between photographer and subject. The mobile phone has changed some of this - we now take more photos more often and indeed some of us have learned through repeated practice what our best angles are when taking a selfie - yet sadly this knowledge doesn’t help much with headshots except perhaps if we know which our “better side” is. The wonder of the human face is that it is asymmetrical - the two sides of our faces are quite different and so we are faced with a choice when it comes to headshots - which side we have facing the camera. This is where working with an experienced professional photographer is useful - the pro photographer is used to working with people, s/he can help us feel at ease and can also objectively tell us what kind of pose and positioning works best for the given application - note that I say works best rather than “that they like” - because like is not really a useful metric. Fulfilling a brief is the goal.

Cristina is a Finance Director in FinTech in London, a business that is very much online

What’s a brief and why is it advisable?

Before we start with anything creative (and I include taking headshots in that) it pays to set out a vision of what is to be achieved - that comes in the form of a brief which has varying degrees of information depending on what’s needed - it may be something as simple as Business professional headshots, light background or it may go into detail about things like black and white, the exact shade of background, orientation, pixel size long edge and output format. Some people like to talk about some adjectives they want to transmit and for a photographer, these are very useful. Headshots are a creative process and if you’re not a professional model it’s wise to take a little more time to work with your photographer, relax in front of a camera and get the results you need.

How long does it take?

For a professional model who is used to working on camera in many cases 10-15 minutes shooting are enough - for us mere mortals who aren’t used to taking directions on camera who may get tense and start to overthink it’s wiser to set aside an hour to work with a photographer - In my experience, it often takes up to 40 minutes for a subject to fully relax in front of a camera so that we can get the kind of results that work in a professional setting.

What lighting is best?

As a photographer I will always suggest natural light as a first choice because it doesn’t look too forced - of course, I do have a set of mobile lights that I use for certain types of the shoot but that does somewhat limit the locations that we can use to shoot headshots. It’s worth noting that different cultures have different expectations for headshots so it’s worth checking out what others are doing and discussing how those types of images were created with your photographer.

Vazha is a computer programmer in Germany, his headshot helped him get a new job

How should we choose a photographer?

The most important question comes first: Do you like their work and do you think that the style they shoot in will work for you? This is of course a question of personal taste and it should be informed by understanding what the standards are in your particular market. As a general rule, I suggest a style that is as natural as possible and I advise away from the use of any filters because these will soon look very dated. A solid second question is: do they have a website? Usually, a photographer who has taken the time to put together a website is serious about their work and is happy to present their work, of course, some photographers nowadays will focus on Instagram but it’s unwise to focus only on social media following numbers because these don’t reflect the way a photographer will interact with you as a client - the only way to find out how a photographer will work with you is speaking with them - I recommend speaking with them either by phone or meeting over a coffee - a professional will be more than happy to do this. A final point would be how they price their work - obviously, there will be different prices available which vary based on their experience, their equipment and the quality of the work they deliver - money spent on good photos repays itself pretty fast whereas the regret of going too cheap may also appear quickly - if you’re the kind of person who wouldn’t consider a cheap repair to your car then you’ll understand that getting the best photographer for your image is a sensible thing to do.

How much is this all going to cost?

As with any market, you’ll find a variety of offers - not all of them equal. As usual, you will find that you get what you pay for - a true professional will not only be happy to talk with you and help you get ready but will also be doing the post-processing of the image to the required specifications - so that rush job 15 minutes for ₾100 won’t seem such a good idea when you get substandard results and need to repeat the process - as a run of thumb I’d suggest a budget of at least 350 to 500 GEL to get absolutely perfect headshots taken in a consultative shoot that gives you time to review the results and shoot and re-shoot until you get the results you need. If you want to do a few costume and location changes then book a couple of hours with a professional photographer and make an experience out of it. Good professionals usually have a lot of great locations and know when the light will be good - listen to their advice to get the best possible results.

Mariam is a Lawyer with the European Business Association in Tbilisi

What can Headshots do for me?

Good professional Headshots will bring instant attention - I’ve seen clients get many hundreds of likes when they share their new headshots on social media, this, in turn, brings with it an increase in opportunities. Lawyers winning new clients, musicians receiving new bookings, some people even get job offers after sharing their headshots. Sounds crazy? Maybe - but let’s just say that Facebook and Instagram are programmed to recognize and boost posts with some people on - good quality headshots serve as a self-esteem boost, on more than one occasion I’ve heard clients say that they’d never seen themselves like this - and so of course self-empowerment is a beautiful thing for all of us - hmmm, maybe I need some new headshots?

What location is best?

The most suitable location for shooting headshots depends very much on your brief - however, in my experience, a casual setting with more interesting backgrounds or better yet a variety of potential backgrounds is a good idea so that you have a variety of types of shots to choose from.

What to do with headshots when you’ve got them?

There’s a huge temptation to share all the images you have at once - that would be a mistake - it’s far better to choose one or two images that you like to update social profiles with, then as time progresses you can swap your photos out with other shots you like thus prolonging the positive effects of your great new headshots.

Adrian Scoffham is a Tbilisi-Based Professional Photographer from London

This guide was compiled by Adrian Scoffham, A Tbilisi-based Professional Photographer from London who has worked with a number of local businesses to develop their image online.

You can see his work at www.adrianscoffham.com and @adrianpure on Instagram - he also runs the fun account @PhotoTbilisi on Twitter where he shares photos of Tbilisi.