Head Shot Shoot Behind the Scenes

I got an email the other day asking if I did corporate head shots with lights and backgrounds and stuff. I figured that I had lights and stuff, so I bought the backgrounds and did the shoot.

When I first got the email, I was a little apprehensive. I have done studio and some on location shoots before, but not exactly of this type. I do the lighting thing with wedding, high school seniors, family, and even infants, but still, my first inclination was to stay no. Which is why I said yes. I don’t know where I heard it before. I think I have heard it from Chase and Zack Arais, and there are lots of others that have said it too. (I just googled “if it scares it do it” and there was a lot of hits.) I think we have a tendency to hide from something a little out of our comfort zone, but doing so will stretch us in ways we don’t always know, but will usually be beneficial.

So, after checking my email (at a computer client) and seeing this email request, I tried not to think about it too much, and just responded immediately. I don’t know what google magic led a company in San Francisco coming to Minneapolis to find my web site www.christopherwardphotography.com, but they did. They emailed several photographers. I was the first to respond. Not a big ego boost to find out that you just got fast twitch typing fingers, and not great photographs. But what counts is that I got work, the client is happy, and I stepped out of my comfort zone, learned a lot, and was successful.

So, this is what I went with. I have 3 Nikon Speedlights. I have one SB900 to camera left in a 24″ softbox as my main light. I have another SB900 to camera right shooting through an umbrella as fill. I shot these TTL, with the umbrella about -1.7 down in a second group.

The third light was going to be deployed as a hair light, but then I decided that the background could use the light instead. Problem was, the SB800 couldn’t be on a 3rd group. My D90 and it’s pop up flash can only control 2 separate groups. So I figured that if I was going to see TTL Joe and David The Strobist at the flash bus tour, I would combine the two. I put the SB800 on SU-4 mode so that it would be triggered just from the other flashes. Problem solved. Sort of. You can see the picture at the top on the left had the light on, and the look I wanted with a little bit of vignette added in post. The pic top right is missing the light. Oops. Somewhere between the setup and the first image and the other shots it didn’t fire. I don’t have quite the separation I would like, but the client still likes the pictures, and that’s what counts.

The background is a new one that I just got from Adorama – a Savage Infinity Light Blue. It looks better on the computer screen that it does hanging. Thankfully, with a little separation of the subject from that background it looks pretty good. This was the second time I used it. The first was in my living room. Yup. I usually use black, or blow out a white background. I pushed all the furniture out of the way, and set up in and around the stuff to try everything out. One thing about doing this is that I knew I could pull this off with minimal room. In the end I had lots of room after pushing away some tables. Felt just like home.

The last piece to this puzzle was shooting tethered into Lightroom. After I had taken a few shots of each of them, I invited them back to the computer. We stepped through the images in full screen and helped them pick the best two. With the initial edit done, back home, all that was left was to put some finishing and portrait retouching on the images. I don’t go overboard with that, so it didn’t take too long.

Well, there you have it. I took a chance, it didn’t go perfectly (lost a light), and yet it still came out well. Bring it on, it was fun.