By Douglas Gritz
Care to guess the single most often asked question I get asked from my clients during my headshot sessions?
“Can you make me look thinner?”
Actually, yes, that is the number one question. But that’s another article. Ok, what is the second most often asked question?
“Can you do something about my double chin?”
That’s the one I’m looking for! This is a question especially common for corporate headshot photographers, less so for those doing actor headshots.
Most corporate headshot photography ends up on the company website. Most company websites limit their bio pages to including senior staff. Senior staff members are usually older and often out-of-shape, the two most dangerous ingredients for being at-risk for a double chin. As we age, our faces fight a losing battle against the forces of gravity. Gravity wants to pull our skin down to the ground. We want our skin to stay where it is. The first casulty of this battle is usually the area under the jaw, which begins to sag as we get older. Staying in shape and consuming fewer calories than you put into your body can help counter-act this and prolong the inevitable.
So what can we do to help those who have lost the battle? As headshot photographers, we frequently get asked to perform magic and compensate for areas where our clients have, well, struggled. Thanks to some nifty tricks and, as a last resort, Photoshop, sometimes we can become miracle workers and make our clients happy. Below are some methods for dealing with double chins in during your headshot sessions.
Your first plan of attack should be when you have the client in front of your camera during the actual headshot session. They have asked you to do something about their double chin. Your response has been, “No problem, I have some tricks for that and will take care of it for you.”
Get them in position as you normally would, then ask them to impersonate a turtle. Yes, a turtle. By that I mean, tell them you want them to stick out their neck toward your lens like a turtle coming out of its shell. Your client will be puzzled but some will do go ahead and do it. Others will require further explanation before they trust this is going to work.
Why a turtle? Take a look at the “before” headshot photograph. This is a client with a clear double chin. In a normal standing position it’s obvious why I crop my headshots.
How do we hide excess sagging skin? You stretch it. By having your client stick their neck forward, the skin around their jawline will stretch, taking some of that double chin action with it as seen in the “after” headshot photograph below.
Boom! Bye-bye saggy skin. Small technique, big results. If your client is still not convinced, bring them around to your computer and show them right there the before and after headshots. They’ll love the result.
When you are doing this, be careful when your clients smile. Most will pull their heads back, compounding the double chin issue. You really got to get them locked into that turtle position. If they leave it, bring them back to it. “Alright, give me the turtle again,” is probably my most often spoke sentence during my headshot sessions. Keep hammering them with it.
There are those times when impersonating a turtle isn’t going to be enough. Let’s take a look at another headshot example. Unfortunately, this fellow has become a victim of the two ingredients that lead to double chin syndrome. I got him into turtle form and this was the result. There is still too much action going on under the chin for my tastes, or his. Now what? Photoshop, baby!
STEP 1: Grab your lasso tool and select and area around the lower jaw.
STEP 2: Now cut and paste the selection.
STEP 3: Select all with your new layer (click on it while holding down the command key.)
STEP 4: Hit the command key + the “T” key on your keyboard. Then right click on your mouse. Select “Warp.” Your image should then look like this:
STEP 5: Using your mouse, push UP the two areas of the box where the lines intersect that are closest to the chin area. This will smoosh the chin upward. You don’t have to do a lot here for profound results. Deselect the layer once you are satisfied.
STEP 6: Grab your eraser tool and choose a soft-edged brush. Set opacity around 90 percent. Now start erasing your chin layer around where the bottom of the chin is. You will start to see the chin that is underneath and part of the original headshot layer come through and the double chin disappear. Keep going until everything looks blended and natural. But don’t go to far. If you do, just undo the last action and start again.
This is our end result. Not bad, huh? Three or four minutes of work and now you are a headshots miracle worker in the eyes of your client! Just don’t go out and try to walk on water.