Author: solutionary


The following tips will help guide you towards getting a great headshot. There is also a downloadable eBook where I shares a wider range of advice – see the link at the end of this article to better understand the process of getting a great headshot.

Great Headshot Tips

1. A professional headshot delivers value.

Whether you are an individual or part of a large organisation, you are the face of your business. A compelling portrait gives you a competitive edge while ensuring that you are immediately recognised during meetings. Remember, it is not only about your appearance, this is about you representing your brand.

2. Connect with your audience.

A great headshot is a key component in representing your trustworthiness. It is often quoted that body language accounts for 55% of our communication; in a photograph this is distilled into your pose and facial expression. Consider what you want your headshot to tell your audience.

3. Identify where you need to use a professional headshot.

There are many reasons you may want an image of yourself, here are a few suggestions:

  • Social media profile images for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. (hyperlinks)
  • Newspaper or magazine articles
  • Your business website
  • Professional forums and discussion boards
  • Personal branding
  • Marketing and promotions
  • Resumes
  • Comp cards and tear sheets for actors and models
4. Recognise what you really like.

Search the Internet, magazines and newspapers for the style(s) of portrait you prefer. Make sure to share these images with potential photographers to set expectations and to expedite the planning process (link to helpful tools and resources here).

5. Set the scene.

Your session can take place indoors or outdoors; in the studio, at a specific location or even within your workplace. Think about whether you want to be pictured in your working environment or for you to stand out against a simple background; it all depends on the mood you want to convey.

6. Take time to find the right photographer for you.

Just like any important purchase, do your research first. Get online and review a selection of portfolios to discover which photographer’s style meets your needs. It is important to note that some photographers are known for their particular style.

7. Get to know your photographer.

Always ask for a free consultation before you commit to buy. This will give you an opportunity to meet the photographer in person, work through your ideas, get your questions answered and to understand how they will work with you.

If you found these tips useful then you will want to download my free eBook “The Headshot eBook – A Guide for Clients”, which is packed full of helpful information including advice on choosing an appropriate wardrobe, details to clarify with your photographer, what to expect before, during and after your session, some links to useful tools and resources, plus a whole lot more.

Download the eBook

Great Headshot

We were recently commissioned to photograph a Church Architect for a business portrait. The setting was a prestigious Grade 1 listed church located in West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. The church receives many thousands of tourists, pilgrims, and architectural enthusiasts throughout the summer and dates to the 13th and 18th century. The Church Architect maintains the fabric of the structure and is designing the first extension in over 250 years.

Collaborating with Joshua Harrison of  Cohanim Architecture was a pleasure, allowing me the latitude to create these amazing images. As a result, I was able to convey the passion and responsibility Mr Harrison feels for his clients in his profession.

It is a privilege to photograph one of the oft unsung heroes who help maintain England’s rich and beautiful heritage.

Business Portrait Headshot

To me, an outstanding and memorable business portrait is one that integrates you with your working environment. It sounds obvious, but I regularly see the opposite, which only enhances the honour I feel each and every time that I create a business portrait that clearly tells my clients’ story.

Business Portrait Full Length

Achieving the right balance between business portrait and business environment is crucial…

…and the set-up requires the delicate use of studio lights to take advantage of the ambiance of the natural light. Consequently, the resulting portraits will look as if they are naturally lit.

Business Portrait Behind the Scenes

Certainly, having such a beautiful location steeped in history offers plenty of inspiration. Therefore, if you find yourself in or around High Wycombe on a lazy Sunday afternoon, find some time to visit  St Lawrence Church and the surrounding area; West Wycombe Park, West Wycombe Caves will also serve you well for your day of sightseeing. The views from the church tower are astounding

West Wycombe Hill View West Wycombe Hill View

You may be interested to learn that St Lawrence Church has been featured in the popular TV series ‘Downton Abbey’. Most recently it was also the setting for a scene in the latest Bridget Jones movie.



You can read more information about St Lawrence Church on Wikipedia and at West Wycombe Church

Update 2016-10-06: Pleased to achieve front page of ‘the door’. Pick up a copy from one of the 855 churches in the area

business portrait article

What does Sandwich Photography mean to you?

For me, it’s many hours of preparation and clear down for a few moments of photography. No one said sandwich photography was easy.

Working to the brief, it all starts with a concept and then how to pitch the story.  There are many ways to achieve this; brainstorming with the customer; sharing and developing a mood-board; understanding the business culture all help to get ideas drawn up and agreed.   Ending up with at least three ideas in mind, it’s time to go shopping for the very best of the best of ingredients.  As a result, several stores and many loaves later, we have everything we need and maybe a little bit more.

Working to the sketches, the studio lighting is set and the ingredients prepared in the order they are required  Finally, time to assemble and style the food.  As a consequence of good planning, it’s possible to capture the killer shot in just a few frames. Also, this provides time to shoot some ad-hoc images while the food is still fresh and looking good.

Sandwich Photography Behind the Scenes

The more I can do in camera will save time later during post processing.

This image simply required a basic crop and a boost in contrast. To complete, the addition of a detail shot is used to create the final image of the Mega-Sandwich.

Sandwich Photography

The Mega-Sandwich

However, sometimes the result does not quite match the expectations.  In the case of the sandwich conveyor belt image, the background just wasn’t giving us the contrast that showed the ingredients in their full glory.  Now post-processing can come into it’s own. Of course, so long as the concept is good in the first place!

It takes time, but it is possible to switch the background out for something else.  In this case, a change in colour, more vibrancy that will make the sandwiches pop off the screen or page.

Drag the slider to the left and right to preview the before and after images.

The Sandwich Conveyor Belt

The beauty is, with the hard work complete, we can now choose whatever tone and shade of colour we wish.  We decide on a blue/green that suits the customers business identity.

Combining a taste for vintage port wine with the challenge of bottle photography.

The first step is to create the lighting that best suits the subject. The choice of colour, shape and design of these bottles have been carefully developed by the producer. Therefore, in bottle photography, it is essential to pay attention to detail and show off the embossed motif and labels; these are fundamental to the identity of the brand.

These are vintage port wine bottles that were originally dirty, scuffed, scratched and just plain old. Many had damaged and misaligned labels as well as creased foil tops/capsules. When photographing new products, it is often possible to choose the best looking bottles. Not so in this case; here there is a limited choice with often only one example available.

Here is an example of the before and after images – drag the slider to the left and right to preview.


It is important to me to photograph each bottle as best I can. With all bottle photography, I regularly take two or three images and then merge them together after the session, during post-processing. Conversely, this helps to minimise the time required to bring them to a state that could be perceived as better than new.

If you are interested in learning more about the history of port wine then I recommend a visit to Porto. An excellent and reasonably inexpensive city break destination where you can visit one of the many port houses, such as Graham’s, for a tour and wine tasting session.

I am available to photograph your products, and as much as I enjoy it, not just wine! I produce images for all types of product and business, which can be as simple or as creatively adventurous to suit your needs.

You can contact me directly by telephone or by completing my contact form to schedule a consultation.

Based in High Wycombe (UK), supporting local, national and international customers.

Just one thing.  How would you say  in an image?

Moreover, how can you convey a wide-ranging concept such as ‘just one thing’ that is both immediately understood and eye-catching?  For me, it’s starting with the creation of a list of descriptive words – writing down what pops into my head. Getting ideas out onto paper without restriction, not concerning myself with whether it is right or wrong. Just five minutes later I had well over a hundred words in front of me… a great starting point.  To simplify the list, I put them into vague groups such as emotion, movement, color, senses and so on.  Now that I had this organised in front of me, I was starting to add more words as ideas feed on ideas.

Just One Thing

Just One Thing – Spark

Click!!! My brain made a connection

I quickly came to the conclusion that I wanted to depict movement and instantly ‘speed’ sprung to mind. Speed is fairly easy to simulate with a blur streaking across the image but it seemed too obvious and certainly would limit my creativity… Click!!! My brain made a connection.  If using a single word to express just one thing was limiting, then I should not restrict myself. to single words – the one thing I portray and the one thing the viewer sees can and will be different.  Now we are getting somewhere I smiled to myself, then continued to consider the many ways we relate to and share the wonders of language.

Red is not just a color, it’s the blush of embarrassment, the mist of anger or the ripeness of fruit. The bringing together of hands can be translated as applause, prayer, respect or dominance. Seeing new relationships form between my loosely grouped words, I could begin to visualize and combine… my concept was coming together, solidifying.  Now to put these ideas into action…now to say just one thing in an image.

Hands are expressive, add impact to words and often communicate in a common language… A perfect subject!

Splash photography and the beauty of the pour. Freezing the movement of liquid has always captivated my imagination.

Each snap of the shutter creates a unique image reflecting the beauty of the pour. Take a moment to think about the multitude of variables involved in the simple act of pouring wine into a glass; they are numerous, complex and compound.  It is this random element of splash photography that fascinates me… the angle and flow of the pour, the timing of the shot, the curve of the glass and a whole lot more result in a diversity of shapes and swirls of varying translucence as the liquid glances off the surfaces. The usually unseen or barely glimpsed turmoil becomes visible and a natural beauty is captured in an instant that can never be exactly repeated again.

This led me to wonder what would happen if I were to remove the wine glass and just free pour… would it seem like an explosion rather than the usual controlled pour.  I drew up a concept sketch, my best guess of what would happen added to what I wanted to achieve. I switched it around 180 degrees to empathise that explosive effect… maybe a touch ambitious but this is my imagination, right?

Splash Photography

Pour Concept Sketch

It was pleasing to solve the problem…

…that I had presented myself. The outcome was not so far off from my expectations. However, I had not imagined the crystal-like quality of the turbulent wine as it struck and bounced off the surface.

Splash Photography

Pour Shot with Decanter

The set-up was basic and based around a small aquarium – the benefit of a glass tank is that the liquid is contained and therefore easy to clean up. Here is a sneak peek behind the scenes.

Splash Photography

Pour Behind the Scenes

I found that the result could be used in many ways with the P52 assignment template. I enjoy how by just changing the angles the dynamic and energy of the pour can be affected.

Splash Photography

Pour with Template

Photograph some high heel shoes! Now, how hard can that be?

I immediately called my fashion-conscious daughter to provide a selection of her favourite heels.  I soon realised the design and construction of shoes present a far more complex subject than I had anticipated.  The intricate combination of shape, line, curves, and material pose a demanding but ultimately fascinating challenge.

High Heel Shoes BTS

High Heel Shoes Behind the Scenes

To get the image looking just right, required a more complicated lighting set-up then I would typically use. Introducing a number of speedlites to complement the studio strobes is a great way to add and quickly adjust the fine details with a wink of low-powered light as required.

Red High Heel Shoes Shoes

Dorothy’s Dance

Hanging High Heel Shoes


Adding a splash, introduced a few new challenges. As a glass tank reflects, it’s no longer an easy process to place a light. Also, it was crucial not to water damage these expensive shoes.  Problem solving hat on…

High Heel Shoes Tank bts

High Heel Shoes in Tank – Behind the Scenes

The extra effort paid off…

High Heel Shoes Splash


Photographed as part of a Project 52 assignment

“They need something that SCREAMS Chocolate!”

Where do you go with a brief like that? Food photography is my passion, and there are many options to choose from… lifestyle, still-life, extreme close-up, the list goes on. With the freedom to do my own thing then why not go bold, with a large helping of impact, rather than take a well trodden path to food photography?

“…search out the best quality and most fresh ingredients, hand picking only the most perfect of items”

To start, I always think about the hero of the image, and in this case I have free reign; an idea formulates immediately!  Just recently, I have been helping an ice cream producer to improve their in-house images and they just so happen to make the most delicious Belgian chocolate variety. The texture and colour are perfect.

That leaves me to search for the props. During my journey to find other chocolate produce, I keep in mind an important aspect of great food photography, to search out the best quality and most fresh ingredients, hand picking only the most perfect of items.

I am now in procession of more chocolate than at any other time in my life.  As I start unwrapping, melting, pouring and posing each of the items, the room, NO, the building, is filled with the appetizing aroma of cocoa. What an enjoyable environment to work in but I need to break from the camera to start assembling my ideas into what will be the first draft of the image.

Food Photography - Chocolate Galaxy First Draft

Food Photography – Chocolate Galaxy First Draft – John McAllister

It’s almost there, I can see what’s working and what is amiss… I have more product to photograph and I know exactly what I need. Chocolate is an amazing and versatile subject to work with; solid and shiny, creating dust clouds from powder, and then “Wow!” it comes together; that’s it, DONE!

Food Photography - Chocolate Galaxy

Food Photography – Chocolate Galaxy – John McAllister

Here’s a before and after view, just drag the slider left and right to compare the draft to the final image


This is My Chocolate Galaxy, food photography with impact…

…and if it doesn’t scream chocolate to you then I’ll take solace in a rather large bowl of ice cream sprinkled with all sorts of chocolaty delights.

Oh my, another idea has just sprung to mind!

Let me introduce Razwana…

…a budding Actor who recently approached me for a promotional / commercial headshot to be used in her portfolio.

commercial headshot

Razwana contacted me via my website’s Contact Form and, once we had linked up, we immediately booked a pre-session meeting.  Prior to the meeting, Razwana shared some sample headshots and she spent time to describe the reasons in choosing those particular images. This gave me the opportunity to do my homework; identify possible locations in the High Wycombe area, sketch some ideas and understand the general feel the images we need to portray.


During the meeting, we dug deeper over a cup of coffee, discussing the images in relation to the scope of requirements. This was also a good time to learn about Razwana in general, hobbies, favourite colours, goals in life, style, drive and personality, and the type of work she is interested in pursuing… There was plenty of active listening. This time also allowed me to share my current portfolio of portrait images face-to-face. I explained my work ethic, how my style would be inspired by her selection and how it would translate into the resulting commercial headshot. We spent time reviewing the possible locations, preferred backdrops and lighting, and whether we would be attempting a natural or studio look.

“It was a pleasure to work with a creative spirit with so much enthusiasm and commitment.” – Razwana


Of course, Razwana wanted it all and so would I, but there is always a budget! We set a date and decided on a two-hour session in a great outside location that offered a multitude of scenarios. First impressions count, and even though I was only getting to know Razwana, I was confident we could work well together to achieve at least four wardrobe changes and a similar number of sets – we agreed to push the boundaries and create five individual looks!

“I really enjoyed the shoot with the different locations that you proposed working brilliantly with the choice of clothing I had in mind prior to the shoot.”Razwana


The session date was set and the heat was on, literally; this was going to be the hottest day of the year so far, forecast at 34C! With this in mind, I thoroughly scouted the location and took test scene shots. I also made sure we were fully prepared to allow us to keep comfortably shooting no matter what temperature a balmy UK summer’s day threw at us.


During the shoot, we reviewed the unedited images immediately on the computer screen This enabled either of us to easily adjust any aspect as we felt necessary. It proves invaluable to get this instant feedback when attempting to capture the perfect commercial headshot.

After the shoot, the image selection process is simple. I provided a range of hand-picked final photographs and Razwana selected the agreed five that were most appropriate to her needs.

I will let a few of Razwana’s favourite images and testimonials speak for themselves. I do hope the behind the scenes shots provide some insight into the process.

“I was taken aback at how great I look in the shots, so thank you so much…

…Thanks again for your support in helping me create great images ready to put out there for potential agencies. You’ve captured my personality throughout all the shots perfectly.” – Razwana


No matter what our experience levels, the setting of expectations is critical – and that works in every-which-way; Customer, photographer and assistants included. For a commercial headshot in particular, I suggest that my customers arrive at the session with their attitude prepared just as if they were attending the casting of their life.  The same applies to hair, make-up and wardrobe, for which I offer guidance but I do prefer my customers to be themselves (and to prepare for a fun experience).  I brief my assistants on our Customer even before the shoot and we run through our action plan of who, what, why, when, where and how.

Of course, once we have secured the safe shots and achieved the brief, I like to try something a little out of the ordinary as it could inspire the next session with my Customer.



More from the Session

I strive to be the best I can…

…and then I push myself a little further!
I have found that there are few shortcuts to self-improvement. For the majority of us, we become an expert through study, practice, good old-fashioned hard work and hopefully, enjoying what we do. One way to help move forward, is to draw upon the knowledge of current and past masters of photography. In this, I am afforded a glimpse of the world from a different perspective, rich with experience.

To gain this insight, I have embarked on an eight week portraiture study. This is no usual watch and learn, this is hands on and get on with it affair, led by my good friend Don Giannatti. My aim is to take elements of what I learn to incorporate into my own photography, to get away from the safe haven of the ‘go to’ lighting set-up, camera angles and poses, to offer my customers that something extra, to step up the level of quality.

These first two weeks of portraiture study have been spent with Skrebneski and Karsh. I have been pushed hard into new territory and the speed of discovery has been breathtaking! Here’s a sample of my journey so far.

Victor Skrebneski

Portraiture Study


Portraiture Study


Yousuf Karsh




Next on the portraiture study agenda is Sarah Moon, she will certainly put me, my thought processes and skills to the test!  Then we move onto what I would describe as the more traditional photography found in the work of Peter Lindbergh. When something is this enjoyable how can it be labelled work?