As an actor and photographer I try to think of my actor headshots as if they were frames directly grabbed from a film. Whether shooting at my studio or outdoors there is always time to create a Cinematic Portrait or Cinematic Headshot giving the client more variety for his/her Headshot Portfolio.

But, what makes a headshot “Cinematic”?. In this article we’ll talk about techniques to achieve a cinematic look.

In order to create this Cinematic Headshot style I get inspired mainly by films. Films such as Star Wars and The Matrix, have driven me to perceive every picture I take as if it were a frame of movie. 

Also, references from manga and anime, Like Dragon Ball are a good reference point. The way lights and shadows work to define the subject’s features and make them seem more dramatic.

I would definitely say that movie posters have also been a big source of inspiration, mainly from the sci-fi genre due to the cinematic effect of contrast between rim lights and dramatic shadows.

What could be regarded as a particularity to a cinematic headshot, is the striking contrast between light and shadows. So called chiaroscuro.


What makes a headshot cinematic ?


1 Wide aperture

2 Telephoto Lens

3 Light Setup

4 Striking Eyes, Character Pose, Leaning Forward

5 Panoramic Ratio

6 Framing

7 Editing, Frequency Separation, High Pass Linear Light, Noise, Complementary colours on  Split Toning, Lift shadows, High Contrast