Headshot Assignment Discussion

First of all, I have to say that I have to say that am floored by the results from the first Boot Camp assignment.

You guys clearly gave this one a lot of thought. (Not doing that is the easist way to screw up a headshot assignment and never get called back to work for a publication again, by the way.)

You can see (most) all of the entries here.

I went through and ticked off a selection of photos that I thought were done particularly well, here.

You'll note that many of the more ambitious versions were not among that group. That is certainly not a knock against them, either. When I was collecting a group to use as examples, I went (mostly) with photos that were clean, simple and would have looked just fine if run very small. (It happens a lot.)

Many of the other photos were more complex. And some were very well executed, by the way. The would have worked very well as full-page covers, or even full- or double-truck inside lede photos. (Some of you guys do like to get ahead of me, I have noticed.)

The dozen that I stuck up top on Strobist were some of the ones that struck me as being very versatile photos. With the exception of the second from the bottom on the left (which I really liked) they all read very well, even though they are repro'd at only about 1 cm square, and have been cropped to squares by a thoughtless machine on Flickr.

It is a testament to this group that a designer could probably not destroy their impact if they tried. (And sometimes, I suspect they do just that...)

I am going to pull up a few examples here, and will link directly to the thumbnails on Flickr to save space. Please leave them up on Flickr, if you would, to avoid future broken links.

The "Screw the Assignment, I Like My Photo" award goes to:

I love this photo. It ain't a headshot. But I can empathize with a dad who comes up with the surpise gift of a nice shot of himself and his daughter. I'd rather have one of those than a well-exectuted blog/website/photoschool/sort-of assignment. :) If you continue the series, I wanna see you work in color some, too.

The "Creative Avoidance of Submitting Just One Photo" award goes to:

For a trio of photos which look like they could have been done by the late Richard Avedon himself.

This person actually used film - four-by-five film - and the tonal range on these were outstanding. Click on it to get to larger sizes for its true impact.

I know I said that we were gonna try to do these in color. But my reasoning behind that was that I did not want you guys to be able to fix your color-balancing screw-ups by just de-saturating down to black and white. This photo was no color cop out.

The "Inside Lede Disguised as a Headshot" award goes to:

This photo would look great at a half page, or spread across two pages. I'm trying to start you guys simple enough to bring everyone along, and some of you guys are way ahead of the pack. I'll be expecting great things from those same people when the assignments get tricker...

The "How Dare Your Run This one Small" award goes to:

This picture needs space to read, but it is worth the space. This was one that could have been bumped to a cover, but would not read well if run very small (see up top.) You'd want to cover yourself with something simpler (with respect to the partially hidden face) so you would not piss off the designer by hitting too far above what the assignment called for.

The "You Did Say This Was For an Arthouse Magazine, Right?" award goes to:


Who would likely also get called back for a second assignment - provided they backed this up with some more standard headshots in case it needed to run like, well, a headshot...

The "I'd Really Rather Be Shooting CD Covers" award goes to:

Headshot, Video producer
Which makes me hope he/she has not used up his/her one good idea for this genre. They may need another idea for a subsequent assignment...

The "Can We Bring the Dog, Too?" award goes to:

Girl's Best Friend
For their off-the-scale cute photo with the dog. If the assignment is for Dog World Magazine, you're in. Otherwise...

And the one that stood out (to me, anyway) as the most versatile photo was:

Strobist Assignment 1 - Headshot
This would work just fine as a headshot. It reads fine at 1 cm x 1 cm (see up top.) It would work well as an inside portrait at just about any size. It could hold as a cover.

This picture says, "I know you just hired me for a headshot, but I can do it all."

It is the equivalent of the restrained, yet tantalizing, good night kiss at the end of the first date.

Darn near irresistible, for a second assignement callback.

All that said, I would very much like to post and comment on every single picture that was entered. But I would also like to get, say, 6-7 hours' sleep every night, too.

We had nearly 200 total entries (I looked through all of the URL-posted, "mine is not in the pool" entries, too) and I am barely treading water (as far as time goes) with this blog, family time and work as it is. So this is what I hope is just the beginning of the after-action discussion.

And I very much hope that you will continue it here.


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