When you make a portrait, your aim should be for maximum impact. Emotion, lighting, and movement all lend impact to a picture, but the way you frame the photo also makes a huge difference. the closer you get to your subject, the more intimate and impactful the picture will be.
Off With Their Heads!
Considering that most headshots are viewed on very small screens and business cards, the more impact the better. By cropping off the top of the heads you give more room in the frame for the eyes, which are the most important thing in every portrait. People often ask me if they can have a copy of their picture with the whole head, but I always dissuade them, and so should you.
Compositionally, the eyes should be in the most interesting part of the frame, and a good spot for that is about one-third of the way from the top of the frame. If you include the top of the head, then to get the eyes a third of the way down you must also include more belly. Two things no one has ever said in real life: “I wish people could see more of the top of my head,” and, “I wish people could see more of my belly.”
Trust me, it’s better to crop the top of the head and get more impact in your portraits. Should you do this in all pictures? No, of course not…only do it in the good ones 😉
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