The following blog was written by my friend and creative colleague, Scott R. Kline.
Should I wear glasses in my headshot or portrait?
by scottrkline on April 1, 2014
Should you wear glasses in your headshot? Yes. If you normally use eyewear, you should wear them in your headshot. Since a headshot is used as an identity photo, whether it is on social media or your website, you want people to recognize you. There are several issues with glasses in a flash photo, the biggest being reflections. Here are some tips on getting a natural look. (Get more tips for looking great in your portrait here.)
– Make sure your glasses are in good repair.
– Make sure the lenses are clean.
– Bring more than one pair of glasses to the shoot.
– Try to bring a pair that does not have transitions or dark lenses.
– Get some shots looking away from the camera.
– Tilt your head down and away from the light.
– Move the light up high or to one side.
– Get a photo without the glasses.
Make sure your glasses are in good repair.
Bent metal glasses look terrible in a photo. If they are not symmetrical, you look bad. Plastic frames on older glasses will lose their shine in some spots or have pockmarks. Any scratched lenses will take away from a clean and polished look. Make sure you avoid all these problems and bring your newest, cleanest pairs of glasses.
Make sure the lenses are clean.
This goes without saying, but bring a lens cleaning cloth in case the photographer does not have one handy.
Bring more than one pair of glasses to the shoot.
If you have multiple pairs you wear frequently, why not be photographed in all of them? It can help show your personality and individual taste. Also, I have found that some glasses are more easily photographed than others. For instance glasses with a slight downward tilt, or that are less convex throw fewer reflections. It’s great to have a backup pair if these problems pop up. If you have a pair with non-reflective lenses, that can help too.
Try to bring a pair that does not have transitions or dark lenses.
I wear transitions lenses. But I don’t like the look of darker lenses in my photos. It gives off a slightly nefarious air. At the same time it can be artistic or exotic. These are all fine, but it is good to have a pair without color or darkness in the lens. If you don’t have another pair or just like those glasses with transitions, have the photographer turn down the model light so that the glasses have minimal darkness. Transitions always get dark outside, but usually are ok in a dark studio.
Advertising Guru Jayne Heggen of The Heggen Group looks away from the camera to reduce glare on her glasses.
Get some shots looking away from the camera.
Point your nose away from the camera. Besides giving some variety in your choices, it can help get rid of reflections. If the light is off to the side of the camera, you can actually look right into the light. This gives great light on the face, but eliminates the reflections. You can turn the head slightly back to the camera until the reflection appears. Leaving the model light on can help the photographer see when the reflection comes back. Leave your nose turned away and then move your eyes back to the lens for a couple of shots.
Tilt your head down and away from the light.
This can eliminate the reflection and give a sly or coquettish expression. Aim the reflection away from the camera. Get several shots in slightly different tilts to insure you get at least one good look.
Move the light up high or to one side.
Moving the light up high does the same thing as tilting the glasses down. Also moving it off to the side. Of course, it also casts more shadow on the face. I like to see a catch light* in each eye. So the light must be visible to both eyes of the subject. With glasses if the light is too high the top of thick frames can cast a show on the eyes eliminating the catch light.
*A Catch Light is that sparkle or reflection you see in the eyes of the subject. It is where the eye catches the light and reflects it to the camera.
Get a photo without the glasses.
Snap a photo without glasses for an insurance policy against reflection. Then edit the part of the eyes that was in a reflection back into the photo. Make sure that you get all head angles and expressions. Serious eyes in a smiling face look very weird. This is really a last resort. Invariably your favorite photo will be the one where someone was laughing and tilted their head to make a reflection in the glasses. We used this technique with Gil Zeimer at the top of the blog.
The bottom line is that glasses really reflect a person’s taste and style. They should be used in headshots and portraits whenever possible. Read more of Scott R. Kline’s blogs.