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I am frequently asked to make vertical headshots fit into a horizontal size, to display on my company's website. I'm often given low-quality images with sharp cuts to the person's shoulders or backgrounds that are difficult to extend.

I usually do one of two things...

  1. Recreate or draw in shoulders of my own, using the clone stamp, then create some simple background to fill the space, as I did here. This is time consuming, though, and anyone with an eye for detail can spot the fake shoulder(s) a mile away

enter image description here

  1. Duplicating the headshot behind the original, enlarging it to fill the frame, blurring it - like below

enter image description here

I want to start doing the second option more, because it's the easiest for me and I see it's a pretty common method (thanks to those vertical video takers), but it's not the most visually appealing.

Is there a better way of fitting portrait images into a landscape container?

  • 4
    I always do your #1. I don't think there is a more elegant method. I would scale each photo so they are the same relative size and the eyes are all in the same relative vertical position. Your #2 reminds me of news programming using iPhone video to tell a story. Which is fine for 20 seconds of video, but when you can sit and look at it as long as you want.. it starts to look worse with every passing minute. – Scott Apr 17 '17 at 16:54
  • @Metis visually, it's my preferred method too. Time-wise, though, I was hoping to find something quicker/easier. I hate having to try and create shoulders for people and match their suit/shirt patterns, etc. Especially because this is always something that gets asked last minute, while I'm in the middle of another project. I just wanted a simple way to turn them around quickly, but I was a bit fearful there wasn't one. Oh well... – Manly Apr 17 '17 at 19:23
  • Well if it's any solace.. the shoulders/suits/patterns are the least visible area, it's merely the edges most people perceive. I'll admit that on many occasions in images I've done, matching patterns/pin striping could have been better but time constraints forced me to go with "good enough" (which I hate). I clearly see the faults, but even when asked, no one else seems to. – Scott Apr 17 '17 at 21:18
  • I've up'd Lucian's answer as he is correct. If the client cannot afford a photographer you really are struggling. Worse case scenario, I have cut out the heads and put them on new bodies before although I am pretty quick / accurate in Photoshop. If you can convince them of the value of presentation / consistency (to their business) then create a brief telling the photographer exactly what you want - make a sketch if needs be for lighting, position to camera etc and submit this to the brand document for future reference. This is how I have managed multi-nationals who shoot in several countries – Applefanboy Apr 24 '17 at 11:25
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#3. Get your client to see the benefits of a proper photoshoot

After years of doing your #1 i finally managed to introduce an updated design for my clients' company profile, website and corporate presentations. After seeing what things can really look like, the client finally found the time to send all 30+ employees, management included, to a studio and got their pictures taken professionally in landscape format, with the same background, lighting, etc.

If that can't work then you're probably stuck with #1.

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    We are just a news outlet. We reach out to the companies to get images that we can use to supplement the articles we write about them on our site, but they often turn around and send us something that looks like it was taken on an old flip phone. The joys of working with old companies and governmental organizations... ಠ_ಠ – Manly Apr 17 '17 at 19:20
  • If the folks in the photos have nice clothes every day, send someone with a crappy smartphone and retake all the photos in the office against a wall. At least they would be consistent. – Charlie Apr 18 '17 at 7:26

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