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Head Shots For Real Estate Agents

Head Shots For Real Estate Agents

Head Shots for real estate agents is not a lot different from any other head shots.  However, no other group of professionals depend  on great head shots and integrate a personal photograph into their marketing program as do real estate agents.  Let me explain!

In Toronto, with the average single family home closing in on 1 million dollars, the purchase of home is a huge investment.  For all those involved in this transaction, the real estate agent is front and center.  Let’s face it ( no pun intended ), the real estate agent is the front line person, the face the personality and the character that will affect the purchaser the most.  The banker or mortgage broker is usually a faceless recommendation who tells you what you can spend.  I think of these people as commissioned, faceless people behind a desk waiting for your order and not really having to do anything with helping you with your purchase, other than a predetermination of your spending limit.

How about the lawyer?  Again, not really front line.  To most, just a necessary evil for the transaction of your purchase.  You may never, ever see these guys, but you might see their assistant when you pick up your keys.  Home inspectors?  They just come in to make sure your new home is up to snuff, but  don’t actually help you pick out your home.  They come in once you have made a decision.

It’s you, the real estate agent people really trust.

Nope, the real estate agent has all the work to do and is the front line person.  To that end, there MUST be an element of trust.  When it comes to gaining trust, we all know that a picture can invoke feelings in people and your head shot must be able to capture the potential client with a feeling of trust and honesty.  Humans make decision on first impression within seconds ( or milliseconds according to some studies ), so if you are sending your picture to them, it better be right. The real estate world has mastered this concept, unlike other industries who could learn a lesson of two from the real estate marketing people.  Studies have shown that trustworthiness comes from a humans hard wiring to just a face.

What, then, makes a great head shot?   Know your client!  It is not uncommon to have two or three different head shots to present on your marketing material for different clients.  However there are some common rules when having your head shot taken.

Four Simple Tips

  1. SMILE!  Number one rule  Smiling people are more friendly, approachable  and trustworthy.  No winking!
  2. Trust your photographer to light your photo properly.  No shadows hiding the eyes, Your photographer will shape the light specific for you to produce a clean, clear trustworthy image.  He /she will also direct your pose and where you look, how much to turn your head etc to produce an image that portrays trustworthiness, confidence and professionalism
  3. Dress the part!  Knowing who you your clients are will help you decide what to wear for your shoot.  Bring 3 outfit changes.  Professional for those analytical clients, business casual and casual for other clients.  Don’t where “busy” clothing. nothing to distract from your face  Consider your colour, blue( trusting colour ), charcoal grey.
  4. Come to your shoot properly groomed.  No bed head!  Good time for a facial, visit to the salon, get a haircut. Shave or be well trimmed.

There are so many tips they could drive you crazy!  Which is were a great photographer comes in.  You need to arrive 15 minutes early to your shoot, have 3 -4  outfits, clean and pressed, well groomed and your photographer can advise the rest.  Come ready and trust your photographer!


Here is a Downloadable Tips and Information  brochure specific for real estate agents individual or group shoots along with our pricing in the GTA.


Black And White Portrait Photography

Black and White Portrait Photography

If you are old enough, you may have shot in black and white using film.  It was cheaper than colour, easier to develop and was the predecessor to colour film.  There are so many iconic images taken in black and white.  James DeanMarilyn Monroe are two examples of how the story of the photograph can be told without the distraction of colour.  Black and white has it’s place and taken properly can be as striking and engaging as any colour photograph.

Click the image below to see a gallery of beautiful black and white portrait photography

Great black and white portrait photography  is not a simple matter of taking a colour photograph and applying a black and white filter.  Contrast becomes very important, more so than colour.  The luminosity or brightness of the light and the shadow, the ratio between them takes on a bigger role in black and white portraits.  In a way, it is easier to shoot in black and white with the “distraction” of colour removed.  Colour, in photography, has three components to be concerned with, hue, luminosity and saturation.  The eye can be deceived between hue and luminosity ( brightness ). For example a yellow can look brighter than red when processing a photograph and understanding how the colours can alter the other colours near it, tricking the eye into seeing a colour that is not there.  Black and white does not have this issue…. just shades of grey.

So, it is easier to shoot, perhaps, in black and white, but not the subject has to be strong.  Without a strong subject, most photos fall into the general “blah” category.   The photographer needs to spend much more time composing the scene, working with the subject to create an image that transcends colour.

Many photographers are technically excellent and can create technically perfect images.  Black and white portrait photographers require a not just a technical skill, but an ability to see the subjects values and uniqueness and bring that out in the photograph through artistic vision, understanding their subject and bringing out the story or the essence of their subject.

Don’t let anyone tell you that black and white portraits have no value in a portfolio.  If not for artistic value, a well shot black and white portrait photograph will standout well over a poorly shot colour photograph.  I encourage all models, actors to include at least one black and white in their portfolio.  For art to be put on the wall, nothing outshines a classic black and white photograph.



Portrait Photography Lighting

Some of the best portraits are those taken simple lighting.  You don’t need to get too complex with all your lights and you don’t need fantastic, exotic backgrounds either.  The focus of the portrait is on the subject, not the background and surroundings.  Yes, an editorial or other styles of portraits the background will help tell the story, but a pure portrait will have a story told by the subject.  Their eyes, their emotions and expressions will be compelling enough to carry the portrait.   Have a look at Wikipedia’s definition of a portrait.

 As a professional portrait photographer, it is your job to find the correct lighting to bring out your subject’s personality.  The same “cookie cutter” lighting does not work with every subject.  BE careful not to rest thinking you know a lighting setup and that will carry you through your journey as a photographer.  Knowing the lighting and shadow patterns is important, but knowing how to apply them takes time and experience and an attention to detail.  The great photographers on this planet make it look easy, but they know what light looks best for their client.  Face shape, skin tones, eyes, ears, part of the hair and all the facial features are carefully analyzed and a decision is then made as to the best lighting for the mood of the shot is required.

So, remember to take a few minutes and look at any photographs of your client or sit before your shoot and take a few moments to learn a bit about your client and also look at the features your client has and figure out what you would like to highlight and figure the appropriate lighting from there.


Portrait Photography Toronto

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Boudoir photography

Boudoir photography traditionally implies sensual and sexy and often in a bedroom setting.  A clear definition can be found here.  Something sexy and something sensual in a bedroom or “boudoir” environment and is usually shot in a luxurious setting or in a photographers studio.   The term boudoir photography then suggests a genre that relies heavily on a setting and wardrobe, but rarely does a person talk about the lighting of this genre and how closely it resembles the basics of portrait photography,

Indeed, I could argue that boudoir photography is just a specialized subset of portrait photography.  A close look at the lighting of both sets will reveal that they are essentially the same.  Light shadow work using classic lighting patterns on the face and background lighting placed to balance the subject.  Admittedly, there is much more attention in boudoir photography to body position than in a portrait photograph, but that is simply because portraits don’t deal with the entire body.  However, the care and thought that goes into light positions for a particular individual is just as intensive as that done by the boudoir photographer.Portrait Photography

I feel, you cannot be a complete boudoir photographer until you have understood and try to master the portrait lighting first.  All photographer dealing with people are subsets of portrait photography.

One of my favouite genres is artistic  photography where the entire body, or most certainly, more of the body than a portrait photo, is taken into consideration.  Many, many artistic shots could be classified as boudoir, if the elements of sexy or sensual are considered as part of the criteria for boudoir.  In the photo below, we have sexy, sensual elements as well as a sexy wardrobe ( being a piece of material ).  This style pf photography I like to call Boudoir Portrait Photography.  It has all of the elements of traditional boudoir, minus the setting.  Put this subject on a bed or on a sofa in a beautiful room and you have boudoir.  I will admit that having a a beautiful setting to shoot in will add another element to add to the story of the photograph, but if you do not master the story of the eyes and capture that as one would in a portrait shot, then your boudoir photography will not stand up.

So, practice your portrait lighting and learning ho to bring out the story of your subject through their eyes and expressions before moving onto the other genres.  discipline will make you a professional portrait photographer..




Classic Portrait Lighting

When it comes to deciding how to light as portrait and have it come out looking professional, an understanding of lighting is required.  It is always good to understand the “rules” and then when comfortable with them, experiment and create.  This Classic Lighting Guide introduces the in lighting patterns commonly used as well as explains a bit about light properties and the concept of F-stops as it pertains to determining exposure and show intensities for your subject.

The above guide will help understand how to light your subject.  Check out this video for assistance with posing!  Good luck and happy shooting!!


Classic Portrait Lighting

Professional Portraits in 2020

Professional Portraits:


I have been asked many times about whether the photography as a business is dead.  My response is and always has been that the art of photography is booming more now than ever before.  The opportunities for photographers are greater now than ever before.  Yes, millions of people now own cameras.  So many people have equipment in their hands with Iphones, Ipads etc. and much of this technology is getting better and better every day. In the days before camera phones, few people could afford a camera and now everyone has a camera. But that is where the differences from the past to the present end.

Photography equipment, to a photographer, has always been a part of their arsenal used to produce professional images.  Throughout the years, a photographer bought the best equipment that he/she required.  Today, we do the same thing.  A camera on the back of a phone is all that is required for millions of people.  To a product photographer, he may need some specialized lenses and if you are producing a poster you may need the ability to have larger files.


We are forgetting two things, however.  The first refers to the fact that equipment is only one part of the photography equation.  Photography is more about the use of light and shadows and knowing how they work on your subject.  Without an understanding  of how light behaves when interacting with people or products, it really does not matter how good your camera equipment is.  It tales  quite a bit of practice to learn light, shadow patterns and get the look you or your client want.. and to repeat it on a consistent basis.  Wouldn’t it be terrible if your wedding photographer had never shot on a sunny day before and had no idea how to handle it?  Unlikely situation, but one church lighting can be different from the next.  Each dress and wedding colours are different, height of groom and bridge.  Knowing how to handle the different light and different conditions is so important to master to be able to produce consistent, quality images.

The second thing we overlook is that photography is a service.  People pay for a service.  We see it all the time and in the next decade, paying for services will only increase.  What do I mean by services?  People pay for food delivery, food preparation, hair cuts, car washes, dog walkers, etc.  You name it.  I have a car and can go get my own food, but I pay for the convenience of the delivery service.  I pay for prepared food… even though I am in the grocery store!  It is the convenience and the service.  Photography is a service.  People can take their own head shots or portraits or video their own wedding or take their own product shots.  They don’t because the may not have the time or may not have the knowledge..  Photography is a service and in my opinion, the best service wins.

When I am asked about choosing a photographer, there are two rules of thumb I suggest.  The first is to look over the photographers portfolio and see if there are images you like.  You will know when you see the pictures when you say “I want that”  There are 100’s of photographers in your area, so once you find 3 that you think can photograph the style you want, contact them.  The second consideration involves the service the photographer can offer.  The photographer might not have availability for you, may not have a price you like, may be rude, may not be helpful.  This is where the service comes in.  “My photography is as good as any other photographer in the city!”  I hear that all the time, but in the world of professional photography ( or any business ), you have to provide the service that your clients want.  If everyone wanted the best, there would only be one business for every business type out there!  Even if you are the best, if you do not follow that up with quality service, you will go nowhere.

To sum up, a photographer is not just about having a camera.  It involves a complete understanding of light and shadow and how they react with your subject and to have the best service for your customers.

Creative Portrait Photography Lighting

When it comes to lighting for portrait photography or any studio photography actually, is that there are basic rules to follow, but  one you understand light and shadow works on the human body then only your imagination limits what you can do.  Portrait Photography  For the photo in this article, it is a lighting that is often used in sports and athletics.  With this setup, the two main lights are set to the left and right of the model.  This will cast shadows across the body.  On athletes, the muscles will pop and often with a dark background, you will see this look in sports magazines or the next time you are in your local gym, have a look at the lighting in the pictures on the wall.

This lighting was chosen for this shoot because we had a very fit model, so the muscle tone would show off great with side lighting.  Also, to help replicate a statue, where the artist has spend a long time carving or chiseling out the muscles and features, this lighting will bring this out.

Now, unlike a workout style shoot, we wanted to keep everything bright and relatively soft.  So we put the side lights in big strip boxes with double diffusers to soften and create direction with the light.  Two strobes goboed  or in our case with barn doors to limit the light spreading back onto the model.


Finally, we had a large softbox overhead feathered to just add some light to the hair and face and also even out the lighting on the white paper backdrop.  Light on the face was important because most female portraits should be soft and well lit, no harsh shadows

Seems like a lot of lighting, but knowing what we were looking for from the beginning and understanding how the light falls and reacts to people, we were able to get the shot we wanted.  Every light has a reason to get the image you have in your mind come to life

So, practice, practice and practice.

** Also note that in the lighting diagram, the model was actually 6 feet from the background so prevent too much light bouncing back and wrapping around the model and also into the camera lens creating a faded, washed out look.  The shot was create on a Canon 5D Mk IV with a with my EF 24-105 F4 ( my go to lens ) shot at F11, ISO 200 at 50mm


Happy Lightintg!!

From Makeup to final shot.  This studio shot was made possible tihe Hair and Makeup artist @moiragarrmua and our sugject @@cherie_li_an #headshots #headshot #modeling #modelingagency #modellife #modelling #singer #singersongwriter #singers #photographerneeded #photographerwanted #modelphotography #modelphotographer #albumcover #modelportfolio #professionalphotographer #professionalphotography #modelswanted  #realestateagent #torontorealestateagent #torontorealtors #modelagency #modelingagency #modelphotography #torontomodels #torontolife #modelsocietymagazine#xsyncmag #photographer #photographers  #photographerlife
From Makeup to final shot. This studio shot was made possible tihe Hair and Makeup artist @moiragarrmua and our sugject @@cherie_li_an #headshots #headshot #modeling #modelingagency #modellife #modelling #singer #singersongwriter #singers #photographerneeded #photographerwanted #modelphotography #modelphotographer #albumcover #modelportfolio #professionalphotographer #professionalphotography #modelswanted #realestateagent #torontorealestateagent #torontorealtors #modelagency #modelingagency #modelphotography #torontomodels #torontolife #modelsocietymagazine#xsyncmag #photographer #photographers #photographerlife

Portrait Photography Behind The Scenes

Professional Portrait Photography

A lot goes on before the actual shots are taken for a portrait shoot.  You may have read the post about prepping for a portrait shoot.  One of the main items is makeup.  In our studio, Moira, who works in television and film, provides most of our makeup and hair services.    When a client first walks in, we do a quick assessment of many things.  One of the first is to assess the shape and the features of our clients face.  Having previously discussed the style of the shoot our client wants, Moira and I discuss the lighting to help bring out the features we want and makeup is then started to help contour and shape the face to the desired look.  Makeup and lighting work together to create the final image.  While makeup is being attended to, I get to work on the lighting setup.  Although there are several basic / standard lighting setups, each one needs to be tweaked for each client.  Shape of the face, bridge of nose, eye size and spacing, etc.

Professional Portrait Photography

Professional Portrait Photography

Makeup before the shoot

Lighting and makeup work hand in hand.

Once hair, makeup and lighting is set, we work together with wardrobe and posing to create the look our clients want.  Some people need more help and advice while others have a great feel for working in front of the camera.

I always feel it is the photographers job to get it right.  The photographer is like a quarterback.  Advise and consult with makeup.  Establish the lighting, collaborate on wardrobe, assist with posing communicate with the client and pull the trigger!  Over the next while, I will write about lighting and camera settings, but for now just know that to get the great family shot or the best model portfolio shot or the greatest social media portrait, there is a lot more work than just pointing the camera.  Stay tuned for our workshops if you are interested as a photographer or contact us if you are interested in our services.

Professional Portrait Photography

Creative Portraits for Clients

Creative portraits or artistic portraits serve more purpose for the photographer than meets the eye.  This is an opportunity for the photographer to practice post work, or in other words, work some magic in Photoshop.  We can work out features and play with settings and experiment on images not being commissioned or sought after by paying customers.

If you have ever worked with imaging software like Photoshop, you will know of all the options and features available.  Learning them all is quite a learning curve, so having practice subjects to take photos of is wonderful.  I know many photographers who argue that Photoshop should not be necessary and that we should not be modifying images, to which I agree.  However, to remove blemishes, such as acne, which is a temporary blemish or bloodshot eyes being whitened is not, in my opinion, modifying an image beyond it’s natural, normal look.  Just the act of removing a pimple is 90 percent of the time an easy process.  However, there are many, many ways to remove a blemish and if you only know one, you might run into trouble with a client one day when you hack up a simple pimple removal.

I have learned through creating creative portraits the extremes of using light.  Using light ( and shadow ) is what photography is all about.  Creatively taking things to the limit really helps you understand the way light falls on different shapes of faces.  With this knowledge, it becomes much easier when a paying client comes into studio and you need to quickly assess the lighting required for the image results desired.


 Artistic Portrait









Working and practicing with artistic manipulations helps helps with touch-ups in “the real world”.



Preparing For Your Portrait Shoot

Portrait Photography

Tips to help you prepare for your portrait sitting.

Once you have decided on your photographer and location and have discussed to style and lighting for your shoot, you are ready for the big day.  You won’t believe these tips are relevant, but believe me, you will be glad you followed these tips

  1. Prepare your wardrobe the day before your shoot.  This sounds like a no-brainer, but the idea here is not to be rushed the day of your shoot.  Give yourself time to reflect and prepare
  2. Get lots of rest.  I.e. go to bed early.  Being tired on set will show up in your photos.  You will need your energy on the day of the shoot.  Anticipation, excitement, apprehension and all sorts of emotions will drain you of energy so get your rest. You will need all of your energy for the shoot
  3. Arrive early.  Leave for the studio early.  Don’t be rushed.  You will want to be thinking about your shoot and not if you are going to arrive on time.  You want to stay relaxed and not stress yourself out.  Arrive on time and relax.  Notice how the above 3 tips have nothing to do with the actual shoot itself?  The reason is you need to arrive and be yourself.  This is so important for actor head-shots and business portraits.  You need to be yourself and arriving all stressed out, late, not knowing if you packed your favourite shirt or wondering if your pants are wrinkled will not help you relax.
  4. If you are having your hair and makeup done, arriving with clean, brushed hair is important.  If you are doing your own hair and makeup, give yourself lots of time to prepare.  Your photographer will usually have a makeup station for you to work away.  Again, since you prepared the night before and have arrived with plenty of time, you will be relaxed and not rushed.  Having your hair and makeup done for you is highly recommended, not just for relaxing for your shoot, but professional makeup artists for photoshoots are familiar with the way the light and makeup work in harmony and can assist getting remarkable shots!
  5. There are many other tips you will read in other blogs, but I have always found that relaxing and preparing your arrival is the most essential.  Your photographer will help with almost everything else upon your arrival.  He/she will assist with posing and will help direct the shoot to get the images you want.  Plan and prepare and be yourself.  It’s that easy!!!


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