Business headshots, or corporate portraits, as they are sometimes referred to, can be challenging. There is just one subject, and you are required to capture the essence of their personality while their professional personas remain intact. Be it a senior-level executive or an entrepreneur, everybody is pedantic about these images, and you better bring your best gear and game on the day of the shoot.
To take the most professional-looking business shots, you need to learn how each subject interacts with the lighting set up in your studio, and this comes with experience, but you can follow certain guidelines to make the most of what you have. Today, we will talk about the ways you can use lighting equipment to enhance the overall experience and result.
Unless you have been invited to an outdoor location, you will be shooting inside the office or your studio. Make sure to set up a background such as the black and white PVC background. It comes with a tabletop and is easily the simplest choice for you. If you are just starting or looking to invest long-term, a Muslin Cotton Grey Drop is an excellent choice for business portraits and other types of photography as well.
If you are going to the office to shoot, you need to take the appropriate background with you. You can take a Foldaway background which can be set up anywhere, or even a 1.5x2 meters Chroma-key green/blue collapsible background. The added advantage of a Chroma background is that you can edit it later in case the client requirements change. Also, make the subject stand a little further away from your background to avoid any shadows.
If you are looking to add an aesthetic touch to the shoot, you can try one of the following backgrounds:
- The (HP-NS) 1.6 x 2.2m Impasto Textured Hand Painted Background (Blue-Grey)
- The (HP-NS) 1.6 x 2.2m Impasto Textured Hand Painted Background (Stone Moss)
- The (HP-NS) 2 x 3m Grain Textured Hand Painted Background (Aquamarine Grey
Once you have the background ready, you need to set up lighting. There are two basic setups we recommend for this purpose, but first, we would like to explain how you are using these lights.
The main light is your key light that is placed a little off to the side of your subject and camera and has the most power. On its opposite side is the fill light with lower power, but it removes the shadows created by the position of the key light. Last is your backlight or rim light places on the back of your subject to illuminate their shoulders and separate them from the background.
Depending on your experience and how you manipulate light, you will use a combination of continuous lights and flashes or strobes.
You need to make sure the light is evenly spread out, and here are a couple of options that work really well as a complete setup:
To break down this setup, we will talk about what makes a good lighting arrangement. Offices generally have fluorescent lights that leave hues. You need daylight-balanced continuous light such as the mountable COB LED lights, allowing you to mount different modifiers to shape the light over LED PANEL. The COB60D Dual-Power Daylight-Balanced LED Light and LED200DMKII are recommended.
The other component of this kit is flashes or strobes.
Battery-powered flash is another popular option due to its cable-free setup, so you no longer need gaffer tape and can very quickly set things up. Commercial headshots can be easily done by pocket flash as they are generally placed close to the subject.
Flashes you can use are the CITI100PRO, PIKA200PRO, and CITI300PRO. A larger battery monoblock is also widely used in commercial headshots, which gives you more flexibility on the power output if you are shooting in distance and group shoot
Diffusers and Reflectors
You need a diffuser for both continuous lights and flashes; otherwise, the intense burst of light will overexpose the subject. It looks unflattering and almost animated, which does not suit the office environment or overall theme of corporate portraits.
This is why light modifiers such as softboxes and umbrellas are crucial to managing the intensity and direction of your light. You can also set up a diffuser panel in the studio or location or simply take this Curve Reflector.
When it comes to business portraits, octagon-shaped diffusers are the most recommended, followed by square and rectangular ones. You can set up a softbox light setup by attaching your lights to the Octagonal Easy-open Umbrella Softbox or the Easy-Open Rice Bowl Parabolic Softbox.
Other convenient options to soften the light or create a larger source are:
- The 40" Translucent White Umbrella
- And then there is the 40" Black/Silver Umbrella
- The 100cm Collapsible Portable White Beauty Dish S-Type
- The 130cm Parabolic Black/White Umbrella with Removeable Diffusion
It makes sense that since you are working with too much light, you would need diffusers to soften them but taking close-up shots means you will need to accentuate the facial features of your subject, so you have to balance diffusion with focused beams of light.
For this, you need reflectors that bounce light in the direction you select. This way, you can control the lighting within the setup and focus it on the subject. This will remove contrasts and shadows, giving a crisp and detailed picture highlighting what you think is necessary. We recommend the portable reflector that comes in five different colours.
In addition to these basic equipment, there are other accessories that you will find useful when going for a business headshot shooting session. These include a sturdy and reliable tripod, a few Studio Light Stands, and possibly a colour corrector pack to use in front of your strobe to manipulate the temperature of the colour.
We have tried to encapsulate all the basics to ensure a successful shoot, but there are so many more guidelines and possible equipment that you can use to supplement your photography.
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