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cinematic headshot

cinematic headshots

The cinematic headshot trend


A long long time ago, I had my headshot packages setup in two distinctively different styles. They were called East Coast Headshots and West Coast headshots. More on that later. Imagine my surprise when the cinematic headshot because a popular trend only to realize it was something I had myself been doing for years.

Let me break it down for you. In it’s simplest form, a cinematic headshot is a shallow depth of field portrait with an out of focus background. Don’t be fooled by the hype. Portrait photographers have been doing this since the moment they bought their first nifty fifty.  If you want to get super technical, the current incarnation of this portrait often referred to as a cinematic headshot uses HSS or high speed sync to achieve shallow depth of field while utilizing a strobe. Yup, that’s just more photographer jargon, 


In 2012 after taking the headshot intensive with Peter Hurely (A headshot photography workshop) I coined the phrase East Coast Headshot. I should have trademarked that shit. Anyway, it got its name because headshot photographers on the east coast, specifically New York, typically have studios. They’re studio photographers that have experience with studio lighting.  That being said, most of the headshots that come out of NYC are artificially lit and photographed inside a photography studio. This particular product I was advertising was modeled off of that look. We primarily shot those portraits on a white background. 


Chicago is kind of a mutt of a town. I mean that we don’t have much of a style of our own. We’re a mix of LA and NYC. Most of my actor clients have aspirations of leaving the midwest and I wanted to make sure that if they were California bound, they had a west coast headshot to match the local trends. In California it’s not uncommon for headshot photographer not to have a studio. The majority of their headshots are made outdoors with natural light.  There’s even a moron with a headshot truck that drives around photographing people out of the back of a truck. My west coast headshot product was designed to offer my clients a product that they could take to LA and hit the ground running with. You can check out my actor headshot and corporate headshot prices using these links. 


So after years of confusing the hell out of people with my offerings I scrapped those names because they were confusing. I knew what they meant, and I could even explain what they meant, but most of the time my clients were indecisive and couldn’t choose which product they wanted. It’s my believe that the East Coast headshot serves the majority of people best. It allows the focus to be on the subject. I think the West Coast Headshot is a great supplement to the East Coast Headshot. I think it would look great on a website bio, but would be less appropriate somewhere like LinkedIn. In my opinion the Cinematic Headshot isn’t a headshot at all, but more of a nice portrait of someone. It’s for that reason that I renamed that product the Environmental Portrait.