My Tribute To The Cheesy Photographer Head Shot

My Tribute To The Cheesy Photographer Head Shot


Hello, Clarice…

We’ve all seen them, right? The second question that goes through your mind is, “how could this happen, being a photographer?” Of course, the first being, “how could someone take such a painfully cliche photo of themselves, not realize it, and then voluntarily post it publicly for the whole world to see (and enjoy). Thanks, Facebook, you do serve a purpose after all. Yes, I’m talking about the self-made photographer head shot. The thing that shocks me is the complete lack of compass for the cheese factor. There are many, many terribly awesome variations of this repeating nightmare. I have to admit, it’s a guilty pleasure of mine to stare in utter wonderment (and thankfulness) that these are real head shot photos, again, with the lame multiplier being they were captured with dead seriousness. Out of all of the rhetorical questions I have on a very long list, here is my top one: Why take your formal head shot while holding a camera, and why is there always a speedlite attached? Do you really think people are so dense that after they’ve navigated to your photography site and/or page, see the title ‘photographer’ above your photo, along with your textbook, snore-fest “about page” description of how much you love “freezing precious moments,” that they didn’t get that you own a camera and needed proof that you are indeed a gear-lusting visual artist? I can only help but think that as they are posting the photos they are thinking a number of things: how good the light is, how cool/tough they look, the size of their camera/lens they hold in the photo, how sexy that “gaze” is, the list goes on… So here it is, my best impressions of the most over-the-top, cheesy, awkward, and self-destructive, self-made head shots created by PHOTOGRAPHERS (yes, I “shouted” that).

Photographers: If any of these examples are you, don’t fret, just take a new photo… you do own a camera, we all know, we’ve seen it in your head shot.

The Stare-down

One word. Awkward. Why? Why did you think that this is the best shot of you? How could you not sense that anyone who looked at it would get uncomfortable? This IS the number one offending photographer head shot. I don’t know what’s worse, the ones that were taken on a whim when a photog catches their own reflection in a mirror while out shooting, or the ones staged in a studio and shoot it with a second camera (like I mocked up here). The creep multiplier here is the fact that they often have the other eye looking right at you. This is NOT captivating, so point your camera in any other direction, please, so we can call a ceasefire to the stare-down.


A little Zoolander never hurt anybody.


This is Joey’s patented “smelling the fart” look-off.

The Gear Bragger

The well-known, insecure, gear junkie. They are happy to let their gear define them as a photographer and artist. Some how they’ve concluded that their legitimacy as an image maker is now concrete because their lens is longer than the hood of their car. This is apparent, as they’ll make sure the speedlite is mounted, the lens fully extended, and presented at an angle to best show the gear and not themselves. They’ll also often put as much gear in the shot as possible, and if they have it, they’ll pose with two cameras. Congrats… on the empty bank account, you da man.


Still live in my parents basement, but getting the uber lens was totally worth having to bunk with the “roomies” for another 6 months.


I’m just going to pretend that… Oh, hey, didn’t see you there taking my photo in this perfect studio light. What are the chances, right?!


Just wanted to make sure you could read that stitching… yep, that’s a “3” as in “mark 3.” Boom.


Lookout, double barrels blazin’


I bought these glasses just for this very moment to hide my insecurity. Tack on another 2 months in the basement, winning.


Read it and weep!

Captain Cocky

They’ve got the full frame camera, the big lens, and they can photoshop like you wouldn’t believe (no really, they can make you look like barbie!), and they want, no… they must make sure you know how awesome they are. They’ve gotten a whole 30 shoots under their belt and they’re gonna let the world know it. Literally… world domination in a bottle. The kicker is that most of these shots I see are indeed posed, planned shots, yet they “attempt” to make them look candid so that they can claim, “they didn’t know the photo was even getting taken.” They say something about how another photographer buddy took it. Sure… they did, in the studio, under dramatic lighting… I can see it… You just always work with a smirk on your face, one eyebrow raised.


Prestige Worldwide


Hahaha, oh! Didn’t see you there.


Canon. James Canon.


Do you know where the weight room is? … ’cause these lenses are just so heavy and expensive. Man I’m awesome… and broke.

Dramatic Man, Heavy Photoshopper

Every photo you take is HDR’d like an oil painting (regardless the subject matter, even that shot of your grandmother in the rocking chair, making the yarn she is knitting with really “pop”), and even that teenage girl’s senior photos look like a Marvel movie poster. So why not your profile shot? Sure, it’s applicable. *Cough*


Suck it, Captain America!


Say hello to my little friend… Photoshop.


Found the weight room, yep, definitely heavy and expensive…. just so you know.

When I see these photos my mind wonders to a variation of the photo below. Guys… you may as well toss on the wolverine claws, like this… and get it over with, we know you want to. There, doesn’t that feel better? At least your GD camera is out of the shot. Your over-cooked photoshop images now have a perfectly matching head shot.


Caption? Nope.

Oblivious To Proper Camera Support

What’s worse than someone who feels the need to have the camera in the shot? I’m glad you asked. It’s the photographer who can’t even hold their camera right. My shoulders and back ache just looking at these photos, imagining a shoot lasting any longer than 15 minutes requiring a trip to the emergency room. Geez, man, support your camera properly, your body will thank you (and so will the mount on your camera body where that heavy lens is torquing on).


And this is how to simultaneously break your back and camera at the same time. Secret of the pro’s.

His and Her Duo

Didn’t you know?! A pair of photographers who are sleeping together take exponentially better photographs together, duh. You are no match, don’t even try. Ok, really I’ll stop bashing the wedding shooting team, it’s not a bad deal, however… the profile photo of them can be. Usually the two of them laughing and holding hands with heads tilted, a variation of a terrible couple’s maternity shot, or some form of a Charlie’s Angels pose.


“You go left, I’ll go right, we’ll flank them with our love.”

A quick summery for those who skimmed for photos and ended here, this is your quick checklist going into your next self-made head shot:

  1. Please, please stop the awkward stare poses. You’re creeping-out the internet. Plus, you make the mocha I’m drinking come out my nose, it hurts.
  2. Gear does not define a photographer, so lose the camera. Believe me, we know you’re a photographer.
  3. I don’t have a solution for the insecure “rock star, thug” thing, sorry, you’ll have to work through that on your own. Hopefully your head shot will improve along with that whole mess.
  4. Stop HDR’ing your portraits, and yourself.
  5. Couples: you’re cute, but a true candid shot of you two working together is much better than a posed shot, unless you just get completely silly with it, then that’s just cute, again x’s 2.
  6. Do any of the above examples ONLY when being intentionally super silly and your audience knows it. Any of these are super lame if you get serious about it.
  7. If you are holding your camera in a shot, make sure it is a true candid of you out and working. That way you don’t look gear-obsessed.
  8. Lastly, you know all of those head shots you take for other people that look perfectly normal? Just do that. I know, wild idea.

Phew… ok, I’m glad I got that out of my system. Hope you enjoyed the “just for fun” post. Every once in a while I gotta pop-the-top and share my thoughts of the ridiculousness that is the internet and the people who make it just so darn entertaining.