Not every headshot has to be on a plain background. In this case I shot my friend Mike on his back deck in front of a pair multi tiered high tech planters. Mike is a serial entrepreneur and start up advisor (The Acceleration Group – http://www.acceleration-group.com/) with a new start up called MiniRoots (https://www.miniroots.com/) that is focused helping people create more productive gardens.
Mike is really excited about sharing his passion for gardening with a wider audience and I wanted this headshot to capture that passion. The image itself was shot in natural light on my Canon 6D with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM wide open at F2.8. Why wide open? I wanted the focus to be on Mike since this is a headshot. While the planters behind Mike are very cool and I want people to see them I don’t want them to take over power the subject of the photograph (Mike).
Sometimes a photographer has to get on the other side of the lens.
This is me. I don’t pose for a lot of photographs willingly.
Last night however I got a new haircut. Because of Covid I have been getting my hair cut at home by my 15 year old daughter and a pair of clippers. Last night she might have gone a little too far… so we had to grab a photo of the outcome.
This particular photo was captured using my Canon 5D MK IV with the Canon 85MM 1.8 and a single Godox MS300 light with a reflector below to fill in some of the shadows. I did post processing in Lightroom and Photoshop.
Shooting headshots can be a lot of fun. Last night my neighbor Erik popped over for a quick session in the front yard (and in mid-summer in Virginia standing outside even after 7 PM can get uncomfortable quickly). The setup I used to capture these images is designed to be portable and easy to reconfigure which means we can quickly move from look to look in a matter of minutes.
In the first shot Erik is standing in front of the black side of a collapsible backdrop. He is lit from above using a single 300w strobe with a reflector below to help create an even and flattering light. The next shot uses exactly the same setup with the backdrop simply reversed to the white side.
In the final shot we used the exact same lighting setup again but removed the backdrop. What you see behind Erik is a glimpse of green grass and gray pavement (we had to change our angle to remove the glinting metal of our neighbor’s car).
Three different looks created by changing backdrops and shot in less than fifteen minutes all in my front yard.
It can be tough to be the child of a photographer. I have 10’s of thousands of pictures of my daughter and still grab her frequently to act as a test subject for new lighting and post processing techniques.
In this image I was working on perfecting my basic headshot lighting setup that allows me to shoot consistently anywhere I need to go. This is a highly portable setup that can use one or two lights, almost any backdrop, and work indoors or outdoors allowing me to shoot clients where they live or work.
In case you are interested in the technical details of this shot:
You might not think you need a headshot but you do. A lot of people don’t like to have their picture taken and I sympathize. I hate having my picture taken (which some people might find ironic considering the fact that I am a photographer) but I made this headshot of myself as part of my efforts to market my photographic business.
My father is another person who isn’t overly fond of having his picture taken but here is his current headshot.
So why do you need a headshot?
People want to know who they are working with whether they are looking to hire you to join their company, take a class from you, or connect with you in some other professional or personal way. Your headshot tells a story about you that your resume or LinkedIn profile can’t. The story it tells depends on the image of course but it can:
Portray your professionalism (be well groomed and wearing a sharp suit) in a way that makes people want to hire or work with you;
Give people a sense of your personality (are you friendly and approachable or serious and aloof?);
Remind people what you look like now vs what you looked like ten years ago when you last got a headshot.
Whatever your reason for getting a new headshot is I can help. Email me today to talk about how we can work together to create your new headshot.
Shooting portraits outside of a studio can be a real challenge. You don’t always get the conditions you want and when people know that you are planning to shoot a portrait there are high expectations (even more so if you are getting paid). In this case I had the opportunity to shoot Helen who at 96 years young is quite simply an amazing woman who I am proud to have in my family.
For this portrait I knew that I would only have a few minutes and limited options in terms of the setting to shoot it in so I spent some time reviewing the options in my head before I ever got to Helen’s house with a goal of optimizing my chance of success. After thinking about it for a bit I realized my best option was to shoot the portrait in Helen’s sun room. If the weather was good (sunny) the room would be full of light and the interior walls would act as large reflectors to help me evenly light my subject. Instead of posing Helen against a backdrop my plan was to shoot her with her back to the outside world and let the outside world wash out to keep the focus on our subject.
This final image was one of only 20 frames I shot. If you are numbers orientated they are: 1/320th sec, f 2.8, ISO 500 shot with my Canon 6D and EF 70-200 f2.8. In Lightroom I did some very light retouching and converted the image to black and white.
Luck really is (almost) everything when making images outside of the studio. In this case I had a willing subject (look at how her eyes have that perfect squint that let you know she is smiling under her mask), wearing a highly photogenic outfit in front of a background that worked for this composition. For my part I did direct the pastor into the shade (it was full sun and mid-afternoon with very harsh sunlight) and into a position where I could turn a large bush in the middle of parking lot into a dreamy green background by shooting at F2.8 with my EF 70-200mm f/2.8L.
The real luck in this portrait was that my wife said to me, “Hey you should get a picture of the pastor!”
I am a naturally introverted person and I struggle to approach people for portraits when I am shooting in public. Fortunately there are a lot of wonderful people in the world willing to pose if you ask nicely. In the case of Katrina she almost volunteered for me.
Last Saturday while exploring West Virginia my family stopped in Charles Town, WV for a quick tour of the downtown and its shops. When we passed Abolitionist Ale Works and saw they had a sour sampler (4 X 16 oz. cans) to go I had to stop and give it a try (they are excellent by the way in case you were wondering). Katrina took care of my order and then asked me what I was out shooting (it is really hard to hide the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM). That’s when I realized that Katrina would be an excellent subject for my Portraits of the Pandemic series and she very graciously agreed to pose.
A couple of lessons I learned from this experience:
You can get great beer in West Virginia
There are friendly people out there that will help you out if you give them a chance (and ask)
And the 70-200 lens is a model magnet (people seem so much more willing to pose for you if your camera large)
A really good portrait does more than capture a person’s likeness, it also tells you something of their story. Who are they? Are they warm or are they aloof? Have they lived a life of hard labor or a life of leisure? Portraits that tell you a story are more compelling then portraits that are just attempting to show you a person at their best at that one particular point in time.
As a photographer its my goal to make interesting portraits. Sometimes you get really lucky with a subject.
I met Charlie outside of a restaurant (domestic – http://wvdomestic.com/) in Shepherdstown, WV just after lunch. The restaurant’s owner was sitting outside taking a break and I asked him if I could take his picture (that’s another post for another day). He graciously accepted but he also said that I should really be taking pictures of the other gentleman sitting outside, Charlie.
Charlie wanted to have his picture taken. He had a story to tell and he made it easy for me to tell it. As a photographer there is nothing better than having an interesting subject who wants to be photographed and is completely comfortable in front of the camera. In this case Charlie, a now retired photojournalist, loves meeting new people and talking photography and this image tells his story.