My portrait swipe file
I’m about to admit something, and I don’t consider it to be unethical. What I do is swipe other photographers’ photos off the internet. I spend quite a bit of time looking at other photographers’ photos, usually on Pinterest or Instagram. I “follow” photographers whose work I admire, and when I run across a photo I really like, I’ll download it or do a screen capture on my phone and then save it to my photos. I don’t publish them, pawn them off as my own, or even try to duplicate them. I use them to inspire me.
I choose the photos that I swipe for multiple reasons. I may love everything about the photo, or I might like just a single element of it. For example, I may like the feel of the light, the model’s outfit, the pose, the background, or even something as trivial as the hat. I keep these swiped photos in a folder called “people swipe files” and upload them to my phone. That way, when I have a few free minutes, or when I’m getting ready for a shoot, I spend some time studying the images I swiped.
I’d show you a few of the images, but that would be “publishing” the images, and I don’t do that. I might occasionally share some of these images with photographer friends or maybe the subject of my current shoot, but as I said, I only use the photos for education. I guess you’d liken it to “headshot porn”, for you perves out there…
If you’re an up-and-coming photographer and you don’t have a swipe file, you really should start one. And if you’re an actor or a model wanting to get a new headshot, go ahead and start your own collection of photos that you can share with your photographer so you’re on the same page. Make sure that your photographer can do the type of photo you’re looking for. Communication is key to avoiding a disappointing headshot. If you’re not confident that your photographer can do the type of photography you’re looking for, please drop me a line. My background is in commercial photography, so I’m used to giving Art Directors exactly what you’re looking for and I can do the same for you.