Shoot: Basic Lighting Setups


Business Headshots and Portraits


Lesson Info

Shoot: Basic Lighting Setups

Alright, here he is, looking very business-like. Alright, so you can see, looks like most of the people I showed you on the screen, ready for work, suit and tie. So, I'm gonna go ahead and arrange the lights, I'll talk through it so you guys can see. We are gonna be shooting tethered, so let's get that set up here. We're just gonna be shooting tethered to Capture One. I'm using a Nikon D850 with a Profoto Air Remote so we can control the power of the lights and all that from here and then, I'm using a 50 millimeter lens 'cause it's just nice and neutral. And so, I'm gonna start, if you wanna hop over here for a second, I'm gonna set up the lights and then we'll bring you in. So, we're gonna start off with our main light. And what we have here is the XL Profoto Umbrella, so as you can see, it's a large soft-source. It's got the baffle on it, it actually shoots the light into the umbrella and then back through, so it's really soft. Great flattering light, works with any person. It's just...

like a giant window so we're gonna start there. I'm gonna raise it just slightly. And then, I like to tilt all my lights downward a little bit so that way the closest part of the light is to the forehead. I like that falloff of downward in case you're doing a three quarter length photo. As you could see in the one earlier, he was lit from head all the way down to the bottom of his hand and just getting nice falloff with the light so I don't like to waste a lot of light going over the subject, I like to tilt it downward, so we're gonna do that just slightly. And we're just using C-stands today. A lot of times, on location, I don't take C-stands only because they're heavy and a pain. I just take good, solid almost kit-type stands. But if I could take C-stands on location, I definitely would. So, we're gonna start off there. That looks good. And we're just gonna do the one light. So, what I'm gonna do is move it in nice and close. Depending on the size of the room, I always try and stay close enough to the background to be able to light it clear so that way when I'm doing my Photoshop work later, the background is clearly lit and easy to extract your subject from the background, but I don't want them so close that they cast a shadow, so this probably about right here. So, if you wanna grab a seat. You can adjust this, wherever's comfortable for you as far as, as long as your feet are squarely planted on the ground. And we'll get into posing after this, I just wanna show you the light setups first. And I'm actually gonna have you turn about a quarter turn that way, that's perfect. And you're gonna sit tight for a second. So, generally speaking, when lighting, I like to have my light feathered much in front of my subject, I don't like to aim the light right at them. I don't like the hotspots that lights create. I think light comes best when it gives that wrap-around effect so you'll see that back of this umbrella, I'm gonna line that up with the front, almost his ear, and let the light wrap-around. So, if you want more direct light, you can angle it in more, but for this, this umbrella's so large we're gonna bring it in and let this nice light just wrap-around. I also like to light at a certain height, so for all of you natural light shooters who shoot outdoors, we all know the best time of day is that golden hour. You know, 8 p.m. in June or 7 p.m., depending where you live. Well, the reason we like that is because the angle of the sun. It's about 35 degrees above the horizon, when I'm shooting with studio lights, I like to keep that same angle. So, generally speaking, I put my lights at about a 30, you don't need to bring a protractor and measure it out, but just know that about 35 degrees aimed downwards is the ideal angle for my lights. If you start lighting too low, you get that up-the-nose light, it's never flattering. If you light too high, the brow bone and eyelashes will block the light and you won't get catchlight. So, about that 35 degree mark for me and then angle it downwards. Feathered in front so we have nice, soft light. We're gonna turn these guys on. And again, I haven't preset any of these, I kinda wanna talk you through it how I would a normal job so you can see the workflow. And we're not gonna introduce our reflector just yet, but we will in about two minutes. So, what I'm gonna do is, I have my camera on, I have my ISO set to because ISO is obviously your sensitivity to light within your camera. I don't know what the lighting's gonna be in a location, I might be in a room that has horrible lighting, I might be in a room that has no lighting. I just want my ISO to be low so that way none of the ambient light's affecting my shot. The next thing I do with my camera is, I set it at 1/200th of a second. That's because that's one of the maximum sync speeds with my Nikon. Some of you guys are Cannon, you know, 1/60th of a second. Somewhere in there. And then lastly, your f-stop. This is basically personal preference. I generally shoot at f-8 for all my business portraits. I like a good depth of field, I like it to be nice and sharp so f-8's what I've been shooting at for years. So again, ISO 100, 1/200th of a second at f-8. And then my white balance is balanced for these Profoto Lights, which is about 5,500 Kelvin. So, that's my general settings. The first thing I'm gonna do, knowing that I'm at f-8, I'm gonna set up my light meter here to 1/200th of a second at ISO 100. We're already there 'cause I did do that before. Grab my transmitter here so I can pop a flash and I just wanna hold this to our businessman's forehead here and pop 'til we get f-8. So we're gonna hold that up here, measure the light, we're at seven so we need to go up 1/3 of a stop, so we'll go up to about 73 here. And we should be pretty darn close to f-8. There you go, f-8. So, that works out so now we know everything is gonna work as far as exposure goes. So, I can turn off my meter, load up the camera, and we're not gonna do so much posing now, let's just take a pretty straight-forward portrait. John, I'm gonna have you come around here and hold the reflector. Actually, you know what, before you do that, you can come over here, we'll take one without so you can see what it looks like. So, this is just your basic one light setup. Yeah, I'm gonna actually, even though you're seated, I'm gonna have you button that top button, just to pull the jacket together. Or at least get it as close as possible and then that way, it just pulls it all there. Pull on your tie for me, just so it's down, nice and straight. And this portrait's gonna be from about the pocket of his jacket on up. So, I'm gonna have you turn a little bit this way. Nose towards me, yep, right in there. And I give all my subjects a three count. I don't know about you guys but my smile turns cheesy really quick so I need a three count so that way I know when to smile for a photo. I just pretend everybody needs that and it just makes it easier. Plus then they know when the flash is gonna pop and all that. We're gonna do one test shot. We're shooting tethered here to the screen. I'll go ahead and show you my tether techniques here, but first, I'm gonna take one photo so we have something to work with. So, I'm gonna have you look right here. Gonna frame it up, I'm not worried about the background so just looking right here. One, two, three. Alright, so this is at f-8, you'll see there's quite a bit of shadow here. Let me increase the size of our... So we have, there's a lot of shadow. For me, that's way too much shadow. Especially for a nice, neutral business portrait so that's where our reflector comes in. So, I'm gonna have John come in. We're actually gonna hold that, I'll bring, in studio I have a V-flat, on location since I'm by myself, I have a second stand that I can hang a reflector from. But we're gonna bring that almost into frame so right there, that's perfect. I know you guys can't see but you obviously see how close he is to them. So, we're gonna do one more of these. One, two, three, alright. So, what I do when I tether is, I want everything to look good so that way, when the client's looking at it, they're seeing the best possible raw file. Obviously we're not doing any retouching, but we can polish it up and make everybody look bright so within Capture One, there's a tool called Local Adjustments. That's where I do all my adjustments to almost every file. You can adjust your white balance in here, you can see, 55-70, that's a standard Kelvin Nikon white balance. No tint, I generally take down the saturation just a little bit in case people are looking red. I wanna plan for everybody. So, he looks great, but I usually reduce it to about negative four or five. Somewhere in there that's just a little bit of saturation reduction. I then check the exposure, everything should be good. We metered, there's nothing overexposed, it's pretty clean. The next thing I do that's key is I go to the HDR tabs, which are your highlight and shadow recovery. I take down all the highlights so there's no hotspots. There wasn't on this image, but you never know. Some people come in with a little shine, I don't want them to see that shine on their skin when they're reviewing, so I bring down the highlights and then I bring up the shadows ever so slightly. Just so we have a nice, neutral image. Let's see, I'll bring 'em up a little bit more. And then I'll up the contrast just a little bit, under my Exposure tab. So, something like that. You know, it's a nice, clean portrait. There wasn't a lot to it, it's one light with a reflector. You can see it's very soft light. It's the one XL Umbrella with a baffle on it and I think had we cropped it in from the pocket, just above his head, you can see the background. It's white paper but it went gray which is fine because everything he's wearing, we'll be able to cut that out nice, see, there's a good, clean edge. So, this is my general business portrait setup. So with that, you know, I'll go through and take an entire law firm's pictures with these, but sometimes I like to get a little more fancy with the lighting, add in extra elements.

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!


Excellent class, to the point, comprehensive, I truly enjoyed it. I am now interested in more classes from this instructor.