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Who is right?

hi everyone; I am not by any means a professional photographer I just like photography in general; however a friend asked me to take some photos at their kids Holy communion and in one of the many photos taken he asked me why did I chopped their heads off, my reply was they are head shots that's what a headshot is supposed to be.
Now; who is right? Here there is one of the many photos taken


  • Often, there isn't a "right" answer when it comes to photography. Some photos are purposely out of focus, tilted, dark, bright, etc. and not having an entire head in the frame is perfectly ok.

    With regard to chopped off heads, when you say "that's what a headshot is supposed to be" - I would disagree there. Headshots are typically posed photos for the purpose of showing off the subject (rather than a candid shot) and they certainly can (often, even?) have the entire head or most visible.

    It sounds like your friend simply disagrees with how you shot the photo, and he may have a more traditional view of what a photo of someone should look like. If someone asked me for my opinion on this photo, the subject appears to have her hair nicely done, so having a bit more of that in the frame would probably improve the photo - but that is just one opinion. It's not necessarily "right."

    It's a fine photo as is and your friend should be happy with it. :-)
  • It is a very nice photo. Did your friend pay you for this gig? When I hear the term a head chopped off in photography to me it is at the neck. Tell your friend your are a creative shooter that concentrates on the eyes and all the other beautiful facial features, not the top of the head.                
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited November 2014
    A head shot is typically the entire head, and past the shoulders a little into the chest, yours would be a more 'creative' head shot which was nicely done for that particular instance to show off her face/features as both Nikon Guy/Zenon said.

    Then you have a half shot, head/shoulders/waist; 3/4 shot down to top of knees/bottom dress hemline; and a full length, those are the 'normal' types of shots with slight variations.

    So by the very term 'head shot' it does imply a typical head/tops of shoulders for guys, and down to just below blouse line for women traditionally.

    Your shot there is very cute, great capture, but I do see where your friend is coming from by 'head shots' also.

    It pays to do both, that way you are covered.

  • I did not get pay for it, it was just a favour for a friend.
  • In my opinion, a Holy Communion would fall on the same level as a wedding or a graduation. You are capturing the moment and hopefully some of the emotion of the day. Your image is nice but should be part of other images showing her whole head along with some full length shots. If i could only have one image, I would prefer a full head shot.
  • TrevTrev Moderator

    Certainly re payment, I did not infer you 'should' have got other shots, my answer was a generalisation of the term head shot and most definitely I think the shot you showed is really terrific in that moment, and I only posted so if in future you would be prepared for any other shoots like this.

    The parent should be very pleased, I would be if she was my daughter for sure, captured beautifully.
  • Alan_KSF, Just forget the term headshot for an event like this. You do not take headshots at these events. Never. Don't use the term. Headshots are the (usually) conservative, posed, head and shoulders portraits that business people put on their business cards, websites, newsletters and on Linked-In. Headshots are not photos of someone from the neck up in any other context or setting. It's the use that determines whether it's a headshot more than the content.  

    Your photo above is definitely not a headshot, as others have said. 

    However, it's a beautiful photo and totally appropriate for the event and your coverage of it. You should have explained that cutting off heads at the top is a style many find appealing. It's an editorial style, you often see it in magazines and newspapers. It's an informal look. It's nothing more than that and, as someone said, there is no right or wrong here. I do hope you got non-cut-off faces too. 

    I once took a lot of these at a business party and the boss later asked a colleague -- who was a friend of mine -- why I cut off heads. My friend gave some explanation, I think he might have said I was in the news business too and that's often done there. My friend later said to me while retelling this conversation "I covered for you." I was taken aback by this phrase as I did not think I needed covering. I really liked those photos.

  • unless there is a remarkable landmark or monument I wouldn't take I picture Higher than the picture bellow; I am used to take pictures like that and I find it difficult to change" my style "
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    I would also agree that the photo at the top can't really be labeled a headshot, especially considering where / when it was taken. Rather call it a portrait. 

    Now about your question:  The photo at the top is too tightly cropped in camera. 

    Generally I want and need looser framing. 

    From a practical viewpoint:
    1.  if you print an image, you lose some of the area around the edges.
    2.  if you frame a print or use it as a print in a matted album, you lose 1/8" around the edges.

    From an aesthetic point of view: 
    1. You lose context.
    2. Give yourself and your client options in how the image may be cropped.

    This last one is important - as a professional photographer you have to accommodate your client. I know that many will say they hired you (or used you) for your specific style, but as a professional, you need to be able to adapt and be flexible.  
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