It’s so nice to have my studio space up and running again! Today I did my first headshot (or Executive Portrait if you prefer). Normally, I go on location for a headshot in Tampa but sometimes people come to me. In this case, I did two versions for my client (Bradley Shattuck at Benecom). One is a more traditional headshot and the other one is more modern. Here’s the traditional one:

tampa headshots

… and here’s the more modern look:

tampa headshots 2

The question that I get most often when I shoot a more modern style is, “Why did you cut off my head?”

The human eye loves boundaries. When you keep everything inside the frame in a headshot, you create a self-contained box for the viewer; a window into another place where the subject lives. When you allow the subject to break the frame (cut off the head) you bring them into your world. By removing the boundaries of the face (the top of the head) you force the viewer to look at the face, and not wander around the edges.

You see this in movies and television shows all the time. If they really want you to pay attention to the person on screen, they close in on them so that their head breaks the frame.

Look at this poster for “Castle”


It’s a self-contained story. Everything is in the frame, neat and tidy.

Now look at this one:


Much more intimate, much more approachable, much more of a sense that they share this world with you. If you were standing on the set when they took this picture, this is what your eyes would look at…. not the legs and the feet and the ceiling over their heads. In photography we have a saying, “Fill the frame.” It means to fill the frame with what you want the viewer to look at… cut away the unnecessary.

Now, look at the “old style” headshot from the beginning of this post with a new crop to “break the frame”

Tampa Headshots 4

Now you are not distracted by the edges… he exists outside the confines of the frame. It’s such a little thing but it makes a big difference.

As a headshot photographer, I’m happy to shoot any style headshot that you want but if you leave it to me to decide, I’m going to go with the “frame breaker” every time.