Recently we undertook some product photography pack shots for an Exeter based customer’s Amazon and eCommerce sites, they were so pleased with the results that they immediately booked a second shoot of more products. It’s a simple enough request, ‘we have some headshots portrait photographs that need doing, well, we need to wear eye masks’. Fair enough.
Photographically it’s not the simplest of jobs, a bit like weddings, lots of white and a fair amount of black too, the extremes of what camera sensors can deal with; doable but easy to get wrong. For me portraits are all about the eyes so there was a bit of a mind-shift to do but then this was a product shoot and not a headshot.
However I now know that it is indeed a different experience liaising with a sitter who is wearing an eye mask, I’d recommend trying it too.
Simple Portrait Lighting Setups
What I hadn’t expected on this photoshoot was the client to spring an impromptu headshot request on me even though I had thought he might need one. Time was tight and to be honest space was limited due to the setting for the main session. We had been working with a simple two light set-up, one with a softbox one with a simple reflector and barn-doors. Reflector boards were used too.
There wasn’t too much to do to make the existing lighting ready for the t-shirt headshot but in order to get the best out of the ‘suit shot’ a slightly different setting was going to work better. I asked the client if he had enough time to for me to drop the black background in for the portrait wearing the suit jacket and tie. For this photograph the main light was the 100cm softbox on the Bowens Gemini with the second light positioned behind the sitter with a simple reflector and barn-doors creating a really narrow slice of light, enough for a bit of added detail to the left side. A reflector panel to the front lifted the shadows slightly on the left side of the face. The IR remote helps and works reasonably well in this environment.
I think the whole setup took maybe 10-15 minutes including a quick change and in a way these two photographs show why I like doing headshots. The lighting can be as slow tech as you can make it and my personal belief is that simple clothing often works best. The differences in these two shots are subtle but they will suit a wide range of applications and that’s what it’s all about.
Of course not every sitter is going to be immediately comfortable in from of a camera but thinking about it I can’t imagine many who would welcome sitting in total darkness.