Baldness was once something men tried to prevent, however in recent years bald has become a bold and stylish fashion choice. When photographing a bald subject, remember that there are certain challenges you must be aware of or pictures may not always come out as you intended. A little knowledge about lighting and angles will help you correct any potential problems when composing your shots.
Remember that your subject may not see baldness as an affliction, so don’t treat it as such. Many men shave their heads purposely. You don’t want to insult a bald man by acting as though his head is a problem. Some men may want their bald head accentuated because they see it as a distinguishing feature.
On the flip side, some men who are not bald by choice may feel uncomfortable being photographed. Keep the lighting and angles in your own mind, make adjustments or ask him to move, but you don’t have to point out you’re doing it because of his head.
Don’t ask him if he’d like to cover up his head. If he wanted to do that, he’d have worn a hat. Set him at ease by accepting him as he is and not making a fuss over his bald head.
Consider your light source. You can use natural light or artificial light to photograph a bald head, just pay attention to the direction and the strength of the light. Any strong, direct light that shines on a downward angle onto the top of a bald head can reflect back at the camera, causing glare.
Move your subject out of direct sunlight if you’re outdoors. Soft sun in the early morning or late afternoon, when it’s on an angle, is most flattering and will eliminate problems with glare. Cloudy, overcast days are also preferable. If the sun is high in the sky and beaming down, stand your subject in the shade of a tree or a building.
Avoid directly overhead light sources if photographing indoors. Move your subject out of the way of strong overhead light sources, such as track lighting or reading lamps. Lower lights on adjustable light stands to be at equal height with the subject’s face. If you’re using a studio lighting set up, turn off the hair light.
If you’re using a flash, keep the flash at equal height, or slightly lower, than the subject’s face. A diffuser on your flash will help avoid glare on the head, however not all cameras are equipped to hold a diffuser. Alternately, you can use a polarizing filter on your lens, which will intensify colors and cut down on glare.
Angles and Background
Consider the angle you are shooting from. The angle can draw more attention to the bald head, or less, depending on the desired effect. Make a bald man’s forehead look shorter by shooting from equal or lower height than his head, or by having him hold his head straight to the camera or slightly tilted up. Make his head look longer and more drawn out by shooting downward from above, or by having him lower his head to the camera.
You can draw less attention to a bald head by using a light colored backdrop for fair skin, or a dark color backdrop for dark skin. Some men may wish to accentuate their bald head. In this case, you can do the opposite. Use a dark color backdrop for fair skin, and a light colored backdrop for dark skin.
Be careful if the background is busy; make sure it doesn’t look like anything is “growing” out of his head by standing him in front of a sapling, lamp post or shelving with items stacked on it. In most cases, the simpler the background, the better.