Fewer than 2% of Americans are natural redheads, so as a photographer you may not have had much experience shooting them. Because of redheads' special coloring, lighting considerations are key for taking skilled photographs. With a few tips, you can become an expert photographer of redheads.
Decide on the location of your shoot, and whether you want to shoot inside or outside. As photographer Joe Farace says, "If you find the right background, the foreground will take care of itself." Bring your redheaded subject to the location to see how the light interplays with her hair. Natural red hair positively glows when lit from the back and can cause overexposure in photographs. When shooting inside, make sure you can adjust the studio lighting easily. If you're using natural light indoors, make sure you have the option to pull the shades when you need to to adjust the light.
Adjust your lighting equipment so that it's soft and not directed straight at your subject. Use a photography umbrella in front of the light to shield the harsh glow from your subject's face. Redheads typically have very pale skin, which reflects light toward the lens. If there's too much light, your pictures will come out looking blown out and harshly lit. Adjust the flash on your camera to a dimmer setting if necessary. Take a few test shots to see how your photographs will ultimately look.
Bring your subject to an outdoor setting if you don't wish to shoot indoors. Find a comfortable place for your subject to be photographed and have her turn away from the sunlight. Immediately you will see that the sun highlights her hair. Unlike indoor lighting, this natural backlight won't necessarily blow out your pictures. Natural sunlight can reveal every shade of red in your subject's hair and add great depth to your photographs.
Use a shoe-mounted flash, a powerful flash attached to the top of the camera, when shooting full-length photographs or portraits. A shoe-mounted flash provides much more effective fill light than the weaker pop-up flashes you find on entry-level digital SLR cameras.
Pay attention to your redhead's unique features, such as her eyes or freckles. Redheads often have a plethora of freckles, so make sure you can focus in on them in your photographs.