Boom Headshot!

I doubt many of you will actually get the reference in the title of this post. But that’s good. It means you (more than likely) didn’t waste (m)any of your teen years playing computer games. Well, particularly one game. Counter-strike.  Damn it was addictive. Fun, but such a waste of time. I could have picked up a camera a LOT earlier and been working on developing a useful skill; instead, I was running around with an AK shooting counter-terrorists and throwing flash-bang grenades.

Anyway – a friend recently asked me to shoot some headshots of her. She is an actor, and actors always require fresh images for all sorts of reasons. Actor headshots are big business in the States (and probably in Syd/Melb). A few bloggers I follow shoot actor and local celebrity headshots exclusively. I haven’t had a specific actor headshot session, so I did what any decent photographer would do – I asked for a good description of exactly what will be needed, and a reference to start scanning the ‘net to build ideas. The style of headshot that I was pointed towards is clean, sharp, minimal and well lit. The images were not too contrasty, and the lighting was not overly dramatic. Simple beauty-lighting should suffice.

This is where Jas came in. To practice some different lighting styles, I grabbed my favourite model for an hour and we pumped some music in the studio while shooting the following images. Everything was shot against my new Thunder Grey (Savage) roll of paper. Jas was sitting on a stool that we recently white-washed and I lit everything with 2 x RX600’s and occasionally 1 x SB900. I used a whole range of modifiers – Rotalux softbox (Deep Octa), 18″ Beauty Dish w/ grid and sock, Fotodiox strip boxes, PLMs, umbrellas, grids, reflectors, snoots and gels.

This first shot was done with my new 50mm 1.8G prime. I blogged about it here. I actually converted this one to black and white because I didn’t shoot a color-checker to properly calibrate the camera/lens combo. I’ll have to get around to that next time.

The rest of these shots were done with my 70-200 VR2. I love that lens. I’ve done minimal work to these shots – basic colour balance, slight contrast and blemish removal. Depending on where the light was and if it was hard or soft, I may have touched a few of these slightly (otherwise Jas wouldn’t let me post them) to even out skin-tones etc. Jas didn’t have much makeup on and we certainly didn’t plan this shoot – otherwise the retouching could have been missed completely. The backdrop occasionally could have done with some cleaning, but I didn’t really need to for this simple exercise.

I added a glow around Jas in this shot by placing a light behind her aimed at the backdrop. It’s a pretty cool effect, but probably not entirely appropriate for a simple actors headshot.

I pumped the fill on this shot for a nice, clean, minimal look. I think a tight headshot would be perfect for a CV or “About Me” page somewhere.

Jas really turning it up…

I asked Jas to change her top so that I could shoot a little wider. This shot makes Jas look really friendly and inviting (which she is!) and could certainly be used in an actors port. A large brolly to camera left and slightly behind Jas puts a broad highlight down the side of her hair and face.

Less fill on camera right gives this shot a little more contrast than the last.

Finally, by adding a special at far camera right, I was able to highlight some of the natural colours in Jas’ hair. I asked her to squeeze into a little ball to shrink down for this shot. Her hair is out and framing her face so that we are drawn to the eyes.

For the photographers reading this and trying to learn more about studio lighting, I hope you have enjoyed the commentary. If you would like to know more, just sound off in the comments. I loved using the grey paper – its quite easy to make it almost any shade/colour that you want – but I would love more space to shoot in so that I have even more control over the light. Maybe I’ll get 20 foot ceilings one day…

Thanks for modelling for me babe!

2 Replies to “Boom Headshot!”

  1. Nice work,. I especially love the B & W one!

    And how about a “fizzle out” tag :o)

    1. Good call… plus I had her link wrong – thanks Steve!

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