Review of Gary Hughes Book and Creative Live Classes for Headshot Photography

In Gear by Dave Miller

One of my favorite images because I was going for the clock to be sharp as well as the person.

One of my favorite images because I was going for the clock to be sharp as well as the person.

My passion is Action Sports photography but I am also realistic from a business sense that I was not going to only be able to shoot sports and have enough income to pay the bills.  I knew if I wanted to someday be a full time photographer (where photography can pay my mortgage and put food on the table) I have to have a business model that included other genre’s in photography.  As you have probably seen many of my articles have been about Team and Individual Sports photography.  That is about 75% of my current income for my business.

Now I am looking to focus on the other 25% of my income – Commercial/Headshots.  My goal is to have it be more of a 60/40 split with the commercial/headshot being the 60% by next spring.  Now the question is how?

That’s where Gary Hughes and his book “Photographing Headshots Techniques for Lighting and Posing the Close-up” comes in to play.  In addition to the book is his Creative Live classes “The Business of Professional Headshots” and part two “Professional Portraits: Moving Beyond Headshots” provides everything needed to take on this genre of photography.

I first heard Gary Hughes and Booray Perry in their “Photobomb” podcast.  What I really liked about them (and also why I like the Improvephotography family of podcasts) is they are normal people who happen to be professional photographers. As I listened to their podcast I noticed Gary’s approach to business matched my philosophy as well.

Creative Live Classes

The Creativelive course The Business of Professional Headshots was released the summer of 2015 and I watched it during the free preview then I was so amazed at the amount of information the class offered I purchased it before the course was over.  The course covers everything from pricing, to marketing to taking the headshots.  What was really impressive was how little equipment is needed for headshots – A single speedlight, a softbox, a couple of reflectors, and a background.

The second course Professional Portraits: Moving Beyond Headshots was released this last summer and is considered part 2 to the first course.  Many times a business needs Headshots but they also need some additional shots for a marketing brochure, website or even a billboard.  This class talks about how to manage that part of the business.  There is a lot of time spent on how to pose small groups, create composite images and again on the business side such as pricing these sessions.  Again I liked what I saw in the free preview that I purchased the course before it was even over.

The Book

When Gary announced his book I pre-ordered the first day I could back in February and when it arrived in early October, I was not disappointed. I have picked up many photography books as I am sure many of you have while learning my craft.  So many of these books show lots of beautiful images of what is possible but not many actually tell you how to achieve them.  Photographing Headshots Techniques for Lighting and Posing the Close-Up, shows you 60 different types of headshots and how to light them.  Every page shows you a great image then describes in detail how the image is created and shows a lighting diagram.

I have had a few requests for different styles of headshots.  There is the typical business headshot but I have also been asked to do Modeling and Actor headshots.  I did not quite understand what a Modeling and Actor headshots are so I passed.  The book shows both styles of headshots and describes how to achieve them in great detail.  I now feel comfortable saying yes, to these requests in the future.  Of course I will practice them so that I am ready but at least now I know what I need to do when I practice.

I have read through all 60 types of shots and am amazed that there are even 60 different styles of headshots.  I have a few marked to try out with my trusty model (for those that don't know it is one of my kids) in the near future.

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A shot that was specifically taken with extraction in mind.

Applying the Concepts

While the subject of all these courses and the book is headshots, there is a lot of great info that works well for Team and Individual.  After all Team and Individual pictures is just taking headshots of athletes rather than a professional business person. I have used few of them with my Team and Individual with great results.  I have also had a few commercial shoots where I was really able to take advantage of what I learned in the courses. I was able to set the lights and choose the right settings for different effects all from the courses.

Who Should Buy these Products

I highly recommend all three products to any photographer looking to add Headshots as a genre to their business.  The Creativelive courses take you step by step through setting up the business of headshots then takes you through how to shoot headshots that sell. The book is an incredible wealth of information and detailed instructions to make taking a headshot great.  All three products are a must and will help you take your business to the next level.


About the Author

Dave Miller

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By day I am an Electronics Engineer by night I am owner of Golazo Photography, LLC based in Gig Harbor, WA. I have a passion for Sports photography and enjoy a great Senior, family or Team and Individual sessions.