Tips and advice to get the best out of your next headshot and of course I'm excited to share some of my portraits as well!

The Carver

This post is a continuation in the 'Portraits of the Mature Man' series. The images are primarily candid street portraits. They're not posed but not strictly candid. I've had a chance to learn more these men as I tried to best capture them in their element. 

Keith is a chainsaw wood carver and I got to watch him in action at the Hants County Ex. Just check out that laser-focused concentration. I don’t think he even knew I was there, but I had wood chips in my lens hood that would say otherwise. Next time you’re by, check him and out and grab one of his business cards; yes, they’re made out of wood.

The Actor

Walter’s a prominent actor, poet and playwright. As Bob Dylan so eloquently sings: "If I'd have thought about it, I never would've done it."  If I knew he was famous and been photographed countless times I never would’ve interrupted him. But I didn't know, and I saw that face, that white hair and that contemplative look while reading that book. I had to ask if I could take his photo. I asked him to go back to reading his book and I was able  to get the shot. I thanked him and offered him a print. I'm so glad he reached out for the print.

Mood Management

The main charge of the portrait photographer is to get the best out of the person in front of their camera. Lights, Camera, Action! But what about the mood?

My secret weapon is my partner, the lovely Trudy. She is the most empathetic person I know. She can read people and understand their emotional state like no one. Check her out in action as she whispers to Abby to give us her stinky face!


As a junior high teacher her relationship building and mood management are tested and perfected everyday. We wanted to photograph Abby on a black background in a corner portrait. Trudy is almost completely out of the frame but she's still working her magic.


I’ve learned an incredible amount and when she’s available in the studio she keeps everyone happy, engaged and ready for action! Say hi to Abby, she's going to be a scientist... and a heart-breaker!

What not to wear

Hair, makeup, expression, pose, lighting and clothing all contribute to a successful portrait session.

Clothes that make you feel comfortable are important, colors that compliment your complexion are preferred. Colors complementary to the background can add interest to the final image.

We all have clothes we love, wear often and are comfortable in but they aren't always the pieces that look best in a portrait. New clothes are best, people notice old clothes and worn clothes can show their wear.

It’s good to discuss clothing choices with your photographer. When in doubt bring it to the shoot. Together you can compile a short list of items and if one doesn't work on camera, you can simply move on to your next choice.


I’ve purchased wardrobes for people to achieve the vision we have. The secret is to leave the tags on. 😊 Bella is too young to drive so we went shopping for her, and got some great pieces that looked great on her and great on camera.

Say Hi to Bella. She was a trooper in front of the camera, can you believe only days before she had a cast on her arm? Who doesn’t look like royalty in a Cinderella dress? Cosi bella.


How not to look guarded in your portrait

John Hayne Portrait Photography in Halifax, NS

Standing flat footed, body stiff and no expression - When does this work?
It works if it's 1870 and you're part of the 78th Highland Regiment in their MacKenzie tartan kilts guarding the Halifax Citadel.

If, on the other hand, it's 2016 and you're looking to engage versus intimidate your viewer, here are a few tips for a natural and dynamic pose filled with energy.

  1. Shift your weight to one foot. This can add some curve to your body and exhibit a more relaxed look.
  2. If it bends, bend it. Stiff straight joints make you look stiff. For men - put your hands in your pockets or hold your hands together. For women - put one hand on your hip, you want a nice gentle bend in the elbow, avoid 90 degree angles.
  3. If you have two of something make them different. Tilt your shoulders so they are at unequal heights. For women - place one leg in front of the other or place one hand on your hip and let the other arm rest naturally.

You and your photographer don't need to memorize poses and your photographer should see problem areas and know how to fix them. You're photographer can act as your mirror and create an environment so you feel free to try new things and make mistakes.

John Hayne Portrait Photography in Halifax, NS

Bonus tip! Just like our soldier here keep that thoracic spine straight and don't slouch, just remember you're not guarding the Halifax Citadel!