Likeness – Defined for Portraits and Headshot Photography

December 11, 2018

Let’s get into this post, ‘likeness defined for portraits and headshot photography’. So to begin I’ll outline the definition of ‘likeness’.

A likeness is to resemble or to represent. When it comes to photography, resembling isn’t going to cut it I’m afraid. It’s too vague. Representing is what it’s all about. At the risk of sounding like a hip hop artist, you’ve got to represent.

Any photograph is going to resemble the subject in some way but what you really need to do for a good portrait or headshot is to reflect the person’s character, echo their personality and that’s what I mean by creating a good representation. And that’s what you need to create a good likeness.

You’ll see so many pictures where the person in the picture is blankly staring towards the lens disengaged from the process. Of course you don’t want to end up with a picture like that, either as the photographer or the person in it. What you really want is personality, life, some kind of spark.

Have a look at this portrait to see how I think you should go about capturing a person’s likeness. First of all look at his shoulders to see how he’s leaning forward slightly. Then you’ll notice how he’s looking looking directly at the lens which makes you feel as though you’re making eye contact with him. You’ll also notice that his cheekbones are slightly raised so there’s a bit of an honest smile hiding behind that beard.

To get to this stage we’ve talked to get the subject relaxed. Then I’ve been able to give direction without it feeling forced or awkward. Because he’s relaxed he’s comfortable and able to be himself.

So when you look at this picture you don’t just see an image that resembles this man, you actually see the guy himself. You see his likeness.

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