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Capturing the Perfect Headshot with Aaron Lucy

Aaron Lucy is Colorado's premier headshot photographer. Born in New Zealand, Aaron ended up working at Denver Headshots with Tommy Collier and is known for his stunning and moving work. Aaron helps entrepreneurs, actors, and business people feel great about how they look.


Aaron Lucy’s Journey

After 15 years in LA, Aaron decided to move to Colorado, where he came across the work of Tommy Collier of Denver Headshots and Peter Hurley of New York.


Aaron took a course from Peter Hurley on headshot photography that outlined the exact process on how to capture great headshots. You can find Peter Hurley’s workshops here.


Soon Aaron met with Tommy in his Denver studio, and they hit it off. Eventually, Aaron started offering only headshots full-time.


The Importance of Finding a Niche

At first, Aaron was practicing different styles of photography, but he started to burn out because with each project, there were different problems that needed to be solved.


“When you’re spread out over many different types of photography, it’s hard to have consistent pricing, which is a huge problem.”

When you focus all your energy into doing one style of photography, there’s a massive amount of growth in that area because you’re spending time figuring out that one thing. It allows you to dial it in and perfect it. Aaron realized that he is 100% a service provider. He’s there to serve his clients, give them exactly what they’re looking for, and create a consistent and reliable product for them.


Headshots are Important in Branding

If someone is looking for you online before meeting you in person, you need a great representation of yourself as people tend to think in pictures.


When meeting people for the first time, facial expressions are important. We have groups of neurons in our mind called mirror neurons whose purpose is to read facial expressions of someone and to create similar feelings within yourself.


The standard for headshot photography is for a portrait to feel genuine and display confidence and approachability.


“People don’t want to deal with someone who looks like a dick.”

Fake smiles and fake expressions always feel fake, and this is not good for creating trust with your viewers or potential clients. There is a formula to get the right expression in a headshot.


Positioning for a Headshot

  1. Camera angle is key. Aaron sits the camera at a lower angle below the chin so that it’s looking up at the person. It creates a subtle effect, making the viewer feel that the person is standing above them. This adds more power to the image.

  2. However, when you’re looking up at somebody, you’re looking at their chin and neck, which is not a good look. Therefore, Aaron has his subjects bring their face forward and down, which stretches out the skin, creates a strong jawline, and presents the face more directly to the camera.

  3. Sometimes this feels weird but it looks great.

  4. Aaron says he’s a fan of systems and finding a way that works, repeating it, and incrementally improving over time.


The Process of Making Subjects Comfortable

Aaron sets up his equipment prior to the client arriving. This means when someone arrives at the studio, Aaron can focus on making a personal connection with the client. Usually, before someone shows up, Aaron will take a few minutes and sit, almost meditating, to feel calm so that he can project that calm into the session.


People are going to feel awkward standing in front of a camera with lights, so making a joke, saying something stupid, or having them do something silly, which brings out their personality in the image, is important. No matter what, you always want to capture a real and genuine expression.


How to Tell a Story with a Headshot

In order to portray the image and story that a client wants, Aaron says it’s about spending time at the beginning of the session to discover what they want, what their motivations are, and what they’re trying to achieve. The balance of confidence and approachability in the shot changes depending on the client. Some people should look really approachable, and some people should look more serious. He’ll often have people close their eyes and visualize certain things that they're trying to achieve and then use those emotions.


Aaron Lucy has taken thousands of headshots over his years as a headshot photographer. You can check out his work or book a session with him at https://denverheadshots.com/aaron-lucy-denver-headshot-photographer


Our full interview with Aaron Lucy is below!