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Autumn Mooney Photography

Headshots: why candid is more memorable

First impressions last, and so does the impact of your profile shot. The power of a candid portrait over a traditional headshot is worth considering, with more reasons to remember an image reminiscent of documentary photography. Our visual tastes are changing, moving away from the time-honoured standard profile (sitting front-on, image cropped at shoulders, evenly lit.) Here’s why:

Four reasons why the documentary-style portrait is a more powerful capture than your headshot

  • The documentary genre aligns itself with significance. Documentary photography relates to a long-term photographic project, with a complex, educational story line. Taking a series of professional, candid images of your everyday life, but selecting just one commanding frame aligns with a narrative suggesting there is more to this image than meets the eye.
  • Higher visual eloquence. We all know the adage – a picture paints a thousand words, and by using candid photography to capture a single moment from your own world, your character and personality are able to shine through. Whereas the standard cropped headshot..well, it shows what you look like.
  • Standard headshots are everywhere.…And unimaginative; so we tune out.
  • Your brain is programmed to remember it. Candid portraiture requires higher level of engagement and brain activity than your traditional front on, eyes-to-camera headshot. We’ll consider what the person is doing, apply the information to what we know about them already, while simultaneously summing up their facial features. Memory hacks say the secret to remembering is to apply a visual connection. So a little string of seemingly insignificant information is subconsciously ensuring the image will be remembered and easily recalled.

If you’re unsure a documentary-style portrait is for you, I’d advise asking your photographer to shoot both styles and see which works best in the results. Here are some tips from my previous post on on how to feel natural in front of the camera.

Photographer, photo editor, photoshoot director, image archivist.

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