Dylan Patrick’s The Cinematic Headshot is a tutorial from Fstoppers. In six hours Dylan shows how he shoots and Photoshops his headshots. His signature style is a bit of Hollywood style lighting and a blurred background. He’s one of those photographers that likes to shoot outdoors with studio lighting. During one of his sample shoots I was reminded of a scene from Lust for Life where van Gogh tied his canvas to his easel in a strong wind. I would have been tempted to find someplace else to shoot or wait for another day.
Dylan talks about gear and how his look can only be captured through the use of high-speed sync since he is often shooting outdoors where standard shutter speeds won’t work. He talks about what lens to use and why he likes using a 70-200mm lens over a 50mm. He also likes an octabox for his main light and a small softbox for his fill.
Once on location he tells how far to stand from the subject and what kind of things look good in the background when thrown out of focus. He says that he’s only been a Pro for three years and he does have a few odd ideas about posing. He likes to have people lean in toward the camera and likes the way some women tend to hunch their shoulders. He likes heads tilted this way and not that. He likes people to face the closer side of the frame and leave the negative space behind them instead of in front of them. He likes to use two light, one main and one kicker and often adds a reflector under the subject’s face. His lighting is fairly straightforward, but he does take a lot of care in the exact placement of the lights.
His look depends a lot of the background, so he spends a bit of time on finding the right look and exposing for maximum background impact. I have to admit that I love the way his backgrounds look. The fact that they are straight out of the camera that way is pretty cool. I’ve always been a Photoshop kind of guy and tend to blur my background in post production. I could even see shooting several backgrounds in this fashion and using them as green screen backgrounds. Dylan adjusts his lights and camera setting on location to get the look.
All well and good. Then he takes the image he likes and head to Lightroom and Photoshop. If I nodded my head and agreed with him on his shooting style, I had to shake my head a bit as he spends over an hour tweaking the first of his four sample headshoots. He started off saying this image is pretty good, it doesn’t need much work. He then proceeds to tweak every pixel. Damn, what does he consider doing a lot of work on an image? I know he was teaching, so he took a bit longer than normal, but still, he did a lot more retouching than I ever have on an image. He often worked on something and you couldn’t even tell he had done anything. But again, I have to admit the overall effect was pretty stunning. He took a normal looking person and turned them into a Star.
Dylan talked at length about not over doing it and making them look too different from reality. Retouching is alway a matter of personal taste. Many of the areas he focused on and went into great detail about the techniques he was using, he never fully explained why he thought that area needed to be retouched in the first place. There were some details that I’m not sure anyone would have noticed, but he felt the need to correct. The before and after images were amazing. I agreed that they didn’t need much work, but once he had finished, I couldn’t really say he had gone overboard. He liked to say that he was making them look their best.
I liked Dylan Patrick’s teaching style. He clearly has a love for what he is doing and is earnest in teaching his methods.