Outdoor Headshots | musician headshot tips | Non-traditional

musician headshot tips classical viola musician

Outdoor Headshots | Musician Headshot Tips | Classical Musician

In order to achieve engaging headshots as a classical musician, consider something non-traditional. I had a recent headshot session with Viola musician and instructor, Michelle Rahn who graduated a year ago with a doctorate degree from prestigious Boston University and now performs and teaches here in Portland, Oregon. After a successful session with Michelle, I’ve pulled together some headshot tips to share with all you classical musicians looking to enhance your headshots.

Michelle performs with various symphonies and organizations, and also teaches as a viola instructor. She wanted to achieve different looks which she can apply to her different endeavors. This is the first of our two-part musician headshot project. We started with a professional, yet non-traditional outdoor setting. I love the results we achieved and these headshots turned out to achieve our goal of creating a professional, yet warm and approachable look. She is absolutely stunning!

Musician Headshot Tips

1. Try Non-Traditional

Try a non-traditional look in order to stand out from the rest. Instead of shooting in the studio, we had our session outdoors. We used a shallow depth of field to hightlight our subject (Michelle) and so as not to distract from her. Regardless of the blurred background, you can still tell it’s an outdoor setting. Our outdoor location add to a soft and friendly look, without demoting her professionalism.

2. Captivating Color

The color of these headshots adds an intriguing element. Color can really make or break your imagery and has a huge influence on the final voice of your headshot. In consideration of Michelle’s profession and personality, we decided to bring in subtleties of color with would enhance her status as an artist/creative, while bringing in some intrigue and also maintaining the clean prestige of a master classical musician. We played off the red color of Michelle’s hair and wanted to have soft, clean natural tones while adding some complimentary color for POP. We asked her to bring a variety of shirts, including classic black, and cream/beige color for a soft look that wouldn’t clash or deter from her hair color, and used the green grass as our backdrop to pull together the complimentary reds + greens.

3. Use Your Instrument

Including your instrument adds that traditional element to non-traditional musician headshots. It speaks clearly of what you do. It’s not always necessary, however, to include the entire instrument in the shot. We included the scroll in our images. The design adds a beautiful element without taking attention away from our subject, and anyone who knows music will know what the scroll belongs to.

4. Showcase a Series

One of my goals is to create impactful headshots in which strangers feel they know the person in the picture… or really want to know them. This is a tip I recommend to all my headshot clients. Choose a series of images that conjure a better feeling for your personality. My favorite setup is three side-by-side images from a series. You’ll see from the display we chose for Michelle, there are three expressions… The ‘eyelash’ shot where she’s looking down has a beautiful, soft conceptual look, and is paired with a gorgeous friendly smile and a soft-faces expression with extremely engaging/expressive eyes. Displaying these together has a big impact and provides potential clients with a more intimate view of Michelle’s personality.

musician headshot tips classical viola musician

Michelle Rahn

Classical Musician | Viola Instructor