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Business Headshots and Portraits

Lesson 5 of 9

Portrait Lighting Location Kit

Dan Brouillette

Business Headshots and Portraits

Dan Brouillette

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Lesson Info

5. Portrait Lighting Location Kit


Lesson Info

Portrait Lighting Location Kit

All right, my lighting kit. This is what I bring on location. There's a few things I'll add to that. I generally bring four lights. Like I said, I don't use more than three, but I like to have a backup in case something happens. In case, you know, a flash tube breaks, I drop something, whatever. I always like to have backup in the bag. Plus, I use the Profoto B1 and B2 kits. They come with two lights when I bought them, so, I just have four anyway, so, I throw the B1s and the B2s, I like them because they don't have cords for wall power. They're all battery powered. You don't know if you're gonna be in a room or a location where there's not an outlet handy, so I like to rely on my own power of the batteries to be able to power the lights and not have to scramble and look for an outlet that might be 40 feet away and not have a long enough extension cord or any of that type of stuff. I just like to be a little bit self-sufficient in that matter. So, I bring those four lights. Modifiers, ...

I bring the Photek SoftLighters. They're just inexpensive bounce umbrellas with diffusion. I'll show you one of those in a minute. I have 36-inch, 46-inch and 60. A similar product, it's a little more expensive, but it's great quality, are the deep umbrellas from Profoto. That's what we'll have set up today. They have different sizes. They're just listed as medium, large, and XL. I don't remember the exact sizes offhand, but the XL is pretty huge source and it's very soft. But again, I use the Softlighters for a lot of things. The 36-inch is generally what I use for my fill light on almost every shoot. And the 60-inch is what I use for a lot of my main lights, and I like that they break down like umbrellas. They're inexpensive so I can just throw them in a camera bag and not worry about breaking 'em. And when it comes time to setting up you're not dealing with rods of a soft boxing, you're gonna poke your eye out or anything like that. You can just pop 'em open like an umbrella and you're set to go. Again, I said it multiple times, a strip box with a grid. A one by three is preferable for me because of its size. And then a lot of times I'll bring a white reflector. I always use the diffusion fabric within because I want that soft light. So bring that along with you in your kit. And, lastly, seamless background paper. I have so many rolls of seamless paper. A lot of times, with clients that I work with repeatedly, I just ask if there's a closet. I bring the 48-inch wide roll, so the four foot roll, similar to what we have here today. Generally, I just bring white because you can make white white or you can make white gray pretty easy. And with how much I cut people out from backgrounds, it's just a solid color to work with, and I know how to light it. So I always bring a roll of that. I can throw it in my car or again, like I said, multiple of my clients, I'll email them before, I say, do you still have that background paper in the janitor's closet? And they'll say, "Yup, it's there." So I just get there, unroll it and then it's one less thing to have to bring with me and then I bring a background stand for that as well or a C-stand with an arm because with a 48-inch roll you don't need a full background stand, you can usually just get away with putting it on the arm of a C-stand and put a sandbag on the bottom and you're good. And then lastly, my laptop and my tethering cable. Tethering, I used to not shoot business portraits tethered. What I found out was nobody knew what they look like at the end of the shoot. I get a call two weeks later, "Oh, well, Jim doesn't really love his photo, he doesn't like how his tie looked." Well, he would have known that had he been able to see the photo tethered. So I started shooting tethered to capture one and since I've done that, I had to do a lot less reshoots. What I do is a lot of times these shoots are five minutes long, will take three minutes to shoot and then I'll have them come review and all I tell 'em is, hey, I want you to look through these, you don't have to select the final image today, but I just want you to be generally happy with the images, how you look, check your hair, check your suit and tie, check your dress, whatever it may be. I want them to look at those photos and go, "Alright, I think there's something in here that'll work." Because then I can move on to the next one and know that's now on them, it's not so much on me because they were okay. If not, a lot of people are like, "Well, I like this pose to this, but I don't like my head position. Can we do more of these?" Awesome because then I know, same thing, let's get that out of the way, bring 'em back to the screen. If they see one that they're happy with, then we can move along. So tethering is key for me and it gives them confidence because if they're seeing photos that they like, they think, "Ah, yeah, this guy actually knows what he's doing." So, that's good and it keeps everything organized for me because I can store them as they pick and select them and I know when I get back to the office, alright, this is the one they probably gonna want, so I'm gonna do a little extra here on the front end, so that when they do order files later, there's a little less work for retouching. But I guess, all in all for my lighting kit, I just like to keep it simple because, again, one of my clients sits on the eights floor of a building, where I have to walk from a parking garage. I don't wanna be taking five trips back and forth by myself, I want to see if I can get everything up in one. So, one thing that's awesome, Think Tank makes these gear bags that I can fit all of my equipment for one of these shoots in one bag, including C-stands. It's a little bit heavy, but it's on wheels, so I can just roll that up, bring my camera bag and my laptop bag and we're good. I can do the whole thing in one trip. And there's other companies that make bags, but if I can just put everything in one location, it makes it a lot easier on me and then having that setup ready to go, it also fits in my car. So, lastly, bring in a posing stool, whether it's just a simple Impact Posing Stool like this. One of my clients just has these metal stools from Target or something like that. Anything that doesn't have a back on it will work. If it's hight-adjustable, awesome. If it's too tall, I always bring an apple box with me. Whether that's for me to stand or sit on or for them to rest their feet on, something that makes everybody comfortable and look natural. And then lastly, lenses. I tend to shoot the majority of my business portraits with either a 50 millimeter, a 24 to or if it's all real close-up stuff, I use a 70 to 200, but generally speaking the 50 millimeter or 24 to 70 is what I use because again, you don't know the size of the room you're getting into. You don't know any of the circumstances, so if I'm gonna have to be two feet away from somebody, not ideal for a portrait, but I wanna be able to properly make that photo or if they have a huge space, I can zoom out to 70 and compress that background, you know, make a little more flattering photo by getting away. So a 24 to 70 is great. Today we're gonna be shooting with a 50. I have the Nikon 50, it's just really sharp, great portrait lens for business portraits and it's good enough to get those close-ups, but also handles the 3/4 length really well, especially in a space like this. So, that's basically all I bring and then of course my handy-dandy light meter, which I'll show you how I use that. I like metering all my lights beforehand, so I know that they're dialed in. Your light meter has one job, it's just to tell you when your camera settings are correct and syncing up with your lights properly as far as exposure, so I like to know that's exactly spot on beforehand and then I don't have to touch it for the rest of the shoot. So with that said, here's a couple examples. Photo on the left was a couple that was for an ad for a bank, believe it or not, I know he's wearing doctor's cloths, but it was some sort of financial retirement management ad, again, shot on gray or white background paper. Just a couple, two big large sources, probably the 60-inch umbrella and a fill light and actually no accent light on this one, just white d flat off to the left and the photo on the right obviously has an accent light as you can see on his cheek and this was full-length. I don't do a lot of full-length, I try to talk people out of it because when you're cutting out people to put them on a new background you have to deal with feet shadows and all that. So I try and avoid that, but when the time comes, you can definitely do any of this, you just need to pull out your Seamless a little bit more to create that full sweep. So, just a couple examples there. So what we're gonna do next is I'm gonna go over the couple lighting setups. So we're gonna bring in our model here in about a minute and we're gonna do one light with a nice big soft main light and a white reflector. So this is an example as if you don't have all the equipment or you don't have the space. One real life example of this is and not all my clients are bankers, attorneys and all that, this was actually a heating and air conditioning company. What they were doing is they have 25 techs who go out to your house service, your heating air conditioning unit, fix things, all that type of stuff, installs. What they were trying to do is be more personal, their goal was they wanted, let's say, heating and air conditioning tech Tim is coming out to your house on a Thursday at two and everybody is at work, but the wife's home and she doesn't know who to expect. They want to send an email that morning and a text with his picture looking nice and friendly, so you can expect when this guy shows up at your door he's not some stranger, he's here to make your air conditioner work again. So, they wanted nice, friendly portraits of all these guys. However, they needed me to do it at 6:00 a.m. before they went out on call in their break room, which was tiny and had the lowest ceiling I ever had to work in. So, this was an example where I didn't know the size of the room beforehand, but I was only able to use one light because of the space. So I just used a big umbrella and a white reflector with just a piece of foam core and that was it. So we're gonna do something like that to start, so you can see it doesn't have to be complex. You can get great results from a really simple setup. And then the second setup we're gonna do is a three light setup. We're using our nice soft main light, our fill light and our accent light, so you can kind of see how those work with each other to get the results that you want. We'll do both seated portrait and then also a 3/4 length stand up with different posing and all that. So, let's do the demo shoot, so we can bring in our model Dave.

Class Description

Whether you are looking to add to your photography business, make extra income during the off-season, or modify your existing portrait style, this class will teach you basic lighting and posing techniques to create modern business portraits. Commercial and Editorial photographer Dan Brouillette will share his lighting setups that he uses both in studio as well as on location. He will explain how he poses different subjects and give tips for earning extra income after the shoot.


TRacy Sullivan

Great class! Lot's of usable information. Loved Dan but wholly cow he talks fast. lol I had to rewind him a couple of times. Thanks Dan - You rock!

user ccf5d7

Loved it! What a great course. I certainly learned form this one and found it to be excellent. I am a full time photographer specialising in Real Estate Photography but I am asked every year to shoot head shots (hence buying this course). I found the information to be really good and was a bit surprised as I did not expect to learn as much as I did! I mainly learned small things here and there but they are invaluable for me!


I really enjoyed this class! Lot’s of good information! Thank you so much! 😊