Free Preview: Lighting and Styling for Headshots


Commercial and Iconic Headshots


Lesson Info

Free Preview: Lighting and Styling for Headshots

One of the first things that I want to talk to you about as knowing light and knowing what kind of like you want. When I was in new york, I used to ask every single single model I shot, especially the famous ones when you're in the presence of a really great photographer. What is it that makes you go? Wow, this is going to be good, you know what it is it's something they say, is it not just the work they do? It's certainly not a big, brash ego. It is something else that they've models tell me that they feel and they all say to me, it's, the photographer has a vision and knows what they want and they know how to ask for it quickly and deliberately, and then they make sure that we get it and that confidence and that this arming makes us feel like we can trust the situation to greatness. So you want to know is many different kinds of lighting is possible don't be afraid, it doesn't have to cost a lot of money. You can be as creative as you need to be to get to that point, so we're going t...

o talk now just about this is working in open shade and I working open shade a lot. Because I don't have told a scrim over my head, and sometimes I'm forced there and we've all been on a vacation in italy or something, and you want to take a picture of someone, and the first thing you want to do is find like, well, we can't always do that in a corporate situation or commercial situation. Sometimes we have to make an impact beyond that. We plan ahead, so I'm going to show you here just the subtle differences, and by the time we get to the bottom, I think you'll see the life in the eyes. So the basic rule for may, the number one most important rule of a headshot is there has to be light in connection from the eyes period, whatever the statements being made has come from the eyes, you guys were looking me right now, straight in the eyes, and you're listening to me and some of your smiling at me, and you're agreeing with me on what we're talking about. But when you have someone come to you that's going to be conveying a message in a photograph, you have to bring that, and you have to make it times to because it doesn't read otherwise, right? So light in the eyes, not just light on the body. Is what we're trying to do here. We're trying to bring impact in connection to the eyes so that being said, the shot on the top left there has no fill light in the eyes, her eyes, air emissions, a beautiful woman without a doubt but there's, no, nothing drawing you in there. In fact, she's sort of almost looks like she's pulled away because the riser and shadow there's nothing, giving us a signal. Hey, I'd like to talk to her. Who is she? What's what's going on with this person? The next shot? I'm using just a little thirty inch phil card about like this she's here and I'm like right on top of er a cz I'm shooting the shot this a little better than the first one, the first shot you see there's even some little indention here on her face that I want to flatten out and clean up the next shot I'm using of one of my cake pans, and you can start to see how there's a little phil on the side of her face, a little shimmer is starting to get a little texture filling out our eyes have a little glow in them down on the bottom, I've pulled out my scream, jim and it's, much bigger panel with suit, max silver light and when you move light in the shadow you need a shiny board like that to really pull the impact in the bigger those shiny board, the softer the light will be so here. Suddenly we have life in both eyes. You can see the color of her eyes, her face is smooth and flat, and we've gone from, well, maybe just a little too. Wow, look at her face here have pulled in my octus off box, which is my first go to thing if I don't have enough natural light to move around, and I plugged that in, and I started playing with my exposure a little bit here on pretty much even here I'm a stopover, so to me, my clients, most of my most of the agencies that I work with, the state agencies, I'm talking about talent agencies, modeling agencies and commercial clients, like lifestyle photography. They're going to suggest that they want to see a great looking person, but they don't want to see the garish qualities of fashion, like so knowing light is key, and if you've got a perm pictionary and make everybody look great, you repeating it over and over, you may not be doing as much as you can for the subject, so you kind of have to keep yourself in rain that it's not always about what it's easy for you, it's what's great for them, so if you can keep yourself in that kind of thing, we're constantly servicing the client, trying to make them look right. They're going to fill that and not only are they going to get a great shot, but they're going to tell everybody want awesome experience they had, and for me as a woman, if somebody tells me I can go to someone who spend my money and be trusted, and I know I'm going to get it, then I know I have made a connection with sale that's going to pay me back for years to come so undecided talking about the contact to the eyes and quality of life before I came here and I did something interesting, and I do this every year in january, every single year I go to the ad agencies, I got grief isn't my client's physically, I don't email back and forth because you'll never get anywhere. You can't sometimes signed a business deal like that some people still require you get there, I go and see the modeling agencies in the talent agencies I interview them, I ask them questions, I get them to show me who the top ten, fifteen people, they represent that work all the time and tell me what it is about those photographs that have an impact I'm not riding on somebody's skirt tails because next week my pictures are going to look better and more interesting than the ones I did last year, so I make it something I want to do for myself and my client and guess what? When I start to tell them that I've done all of that, that is impressive to them. They're like, wow, she really knows what's going on, I asked them what's happening with the photographs who's looking at him, what do they want to do with these pictures? What are they trying to make for themselves? So those things are key and the overall most important thing is life in the eyes, connection to the eyes, whether you're shooting the girl next door, are the hottie or that somebody looks like a troubled teen, whatever your assignment is, the eyes and the whole whole impact has to be complete. Beat him naked the big so when you're shooting lifestyle, photography and more, even more so commercial headshots, everything has to look kind of over the top all american smiling, clean, happy uh, but riel not I think people are much more attractive when they laugh, then they are when they smile because a smile was stopped motion laughing is something you in part as an emotion, and if you can capture that then you have a sense of connective ity that seems somewhat riel. So trying to create something that's candid for a head shot sometimes requires to you to get into a little comedy routine. Tobin probably has no problem with that, but it's about having fun and making that person look like they're an amazing person from time to time, you're going to get somebody in your chair are in your studio. Are you going to go to their location to shoot? And they're gonna have amazing personality and they may be a total goof ball nerd, you know, john candy kind of personality. You want to be open enough and not so cookie cutter with your plan that you can't recognize that because that person is really going to make you sing is a photographer so cover what you're supposed to go off with that personality because it may take it all to another level, and they make sure the right people see those pictures. So you want to make sure that you get some sort of sense of reality? No smiling, no sitting, sitting, staged, everything has to be a a movement we're going to shoot lorraine a in a few minutes for our commercial head shot, and I'm going to kind of just talk my way through that headshot and try to deliver what I'm saying for you. As the agents have said to me, lou brings it in the eyes. I just would like to impart that it's about emotion and how you make the person feel and that reaction you get is going to make your photographs go from shooting twenty five where you get for that you like to have in twenty five and you have a hard time getting rid of the ones you don't like, so keep the subject moving, keep you know, when I'm directing a group of people like this, I'm directing every person, just like I would direct one of you sitting in front of me in the chair, one of the best things that you guys can also do for each other. If you live close enough to each other, is shoot each other on a regular bases you need to show head shots of yourself looking is great as the head shots that you're going to sell because people look at your picture and they trust you somewhat from what you look like on your own website, so if you put up this picture of you that looks like you were in, you know, worked at some, you know, corporate environment with the tie and you're serious, you're probably not going to get that same person if you dress yourself a little sexier and make yourself a little more touchable, kind kind in the eyes. So you gotto remember if you're going to sell something, you almost have to be doing that as well. So connect emotionally with the masses, almost all of your clients if you switch gears and are goingto do corporate work and you get those annual reports, you want to make the photograph something that people can reach out and feel in touch on, carry it to another level. So for the most part, you're going to either reselling the subject are a concept or material things if you happen to get outside of that head shot box and get into the commercial world. So those things are going to be the catalyst of what you build your whole photo shoot around. So you're going to think about style of photography, you know, as we're doing the commercial work, we're going to go through several different levels of that today every once in a while, somebody will call you and sad need a head shot. And the guy's gonna walk in the door and he's going to look like he just stepped right out of one of the military movies and he's like this super hot guy and you're like, well, I know I need to shoot him with a smile on his face, but what else can I do with this guy and that's really that's when it gets to be fun, but you have to rein yourself back and say, okay, I know I've got to get this guy a photograph that his agents consent out, get him work with a trident commercial or coca cola ad, or what is it about this guy that's going to make him more attractive to all these people? He might not know, but you're supposed to, so you want to make that part of your homework and what you dio on? Dh how you sell yourself, you can create interest in a boring photograph with colors that you choose to put in the set on the set on the person you don't have to shoot everybody against a piece of seen once. In fact, I sort of suggests that you try not to all your commercial headshots need to look like the people are on the set of a movie or near one, or involved in doing something else fabulous. And fabulous khun go from granola to barbarella and I'm some of your apartment not old enough to know what that means but that means from clean too over the top sexy but the clean all american thing needs to be the first thing you give the people and then you build from there so a cz we go from the lighting in the style of shooting were going to go into what to do for the people next how to shoot them so your lens choices should be long and lighting should be clean so if you shoot your subjects in the act of doing something that right there gives you the catalyst of how to direct them if somebody comes to you and there are a triathlete and they're going to start auditioning for movies then you want to shoot them in something athletic as well as something not because they might be put up for something like an insurance ad or something like that you want to cover your basis with reality tio what could go on next when you're shooting things with athletics and things like that you can choose creative angles when you shoot headshot she wanna have the lands right into the eye for the connectivity sec you are the viewer of the pictures by taking the pictures so you're lindsay of you needs to be connected to the ice because that's how we relate to people eyes first then the body and any time you can create an environment of fun or make something more interesting, you should do it if you're like is this boring? It probably is so make it fun make it interesting when you're shooting somebody's head shot is the first time they've ever had a headshot you need to keep it simple this beautiful purple sweater that valerie has on would make a great choice kind of suggested that they were a nice blue things that are flattering to the eyes flattering to the hair or good choices to start with if you have no idea how to style things, I'm going to give you some cool ideas here in just a moment on how to connect with colors if you're like well what do up in the background well what'd I put on the tier how does show ever stand what should I do but the unexpected things even though they're clean and natural are going to have impact and they're going to resonate with people this guy on the left here and the right has made millions of dollars off that smile his big wonderful thing he does is this cracking up laughing I fortunately shot enough models that know how to work it and you know the chosen for that beautiful smile I have just their mannerisms and the mannerisms all of that gives emotion and that conveys in the photograph so when you have somebody that has nothing like that we've all had them hi I'm here for my picture I want to be an actress then you have to find a way to lift all that up and not let it be a bear to you otherwise you know you're gonna have to find a way to develop some statements and p ideas if you can't do that then pull tear sheets out of magazines and have a wall that you look at everyday before you go shoot these people it will help you tremendously so you could make up and hair for commercial head shots you want to keep it clean but polished I never ever shoot anybody without makeup on I carry a makeup palate kit with me when I shoot man like for example if you're going to get that law firm and you going shoot twenty lawyers if you don't want to deal with taking a makeup artist or they won't pay you need to at least be able to touch up the face and get the skin tongue pretty and even it's a small it seems like a lot of money to buy pallets for everybody's face but you will use it up and more than you think keep comb in your bag you want to be prepared I try always always always to have a makeup artist and when I'm doing something like that I booked the makeup artist for a day or for a half day instead of bullets individuals it's easier for everybody, and then your pictures turn out great. So I just did a portrait shoot in a law firm about two months ago, there was twenty people, two of them were women. I still had to make up artist there, but you wouldn't believe how it changes people when they get in front of your camera there, like nobody ever paid any attention to us like this, but that they remember that when you leave and they remember that when they see the photos, so if you're going to ask for it and they want lashes, things like that just remember that that starts getting outside the realm of commercial in a law firm. If the woman wanted eyelashes, I would put individual lashes, honor if you don't know what that is, you might wantto I'll tell you and share with you later, but it's a good idea to have a little bit of kick around the eyes, especially on maturity, women and styling. This is a fashion shoot, but for the most part, the simpler the better, simple, timeless, closed last forever. So if people are saving money, which a lot of your actor, people don't want to do a new headshot every year when that if they did, it shows that they're working, and some of them will show that they'll use the same headshot for three or four years and they've changed their hair five times, but if they had like a classic, you know cashmere sweater on and last for three, four years if they don't drastically change the way they look. So something with commercial clients and corporate clients it's always a good idea for you to pull some ties and have those in your bag because somebody comes and have no style, they got a bad tie that makes a big impact on what they look like, so I use a lot of complementary colors and complimentary colors to me are like, for example, me or valerie's hair tone is lighter and our eyes are lighter. I would work off the colors in my eyes or the colors in my hair, something we told for lorraine but it's slightly different when you start making that impact. What happens is you look at the photograph and you go wow look at their eyes or while we look at the color of the hair that's, all stylized very nicely and then a complimentary color for the background when you can get it all magically working like that, it really does make the person jump off the page or jump out of the image that you shot whenever possible and complementary colors of the ones that lie directly across from each other on the color wheel so if you know, I love the fact that red and green across from each other because it makes us realize how much impact they were trying to make when they created all of that for us, by the way, did you know that santa claus never appeared in a red suit till coca cola did their first ad? When I hear stuff like that, I'm like, really, we've been led down this way of advertising all along, and we sometimes didn't realize it, and today is just a part of who we are in our everyday thought process, these colors. But you know, if you think of my hair and the yellow to gold tones, you can see how the blues and the violence or across from that and the same thing opposite, you know, people tell me, what do you put on somebody with that has dark brown eyes like you have like a warm tone hair? They want to work off those colors, I think of fall colors, fall tones being great impact for somebody with hazel eyes. Suddenly the eyes come alive with color. When you put that on the makeup artist do the same thing with the makeup artist artistry that they applied to the eyes and lips and scan to bring life and color into that, so whenever possible, try to add that next level with the clothes sometimes the background dictates that it might come with it, so everything that I shoot and I create is all about color placement of color, placement of the props so that the whole photograph becomes a work of art and has impact, so we're going to jump right on in now, tio, why things pop the colors here were all placed, the shirt was chosen for the eyes, the orange for the color of the lips, and all the primary colors in the background just became a natural placement for us in the photograph because of all those impact of premier colors, same thing again here, interesting angles with always fun, so placement of white, what does it look like when I'm on the set? People ask me, how far are you away from the subject? Where was the light compared to you? I use a lot of the same lighting setups that we teach in classic photography, but then I usually kind of drift from that a little bit because everybody's faces different raised body's different where I have to stand has a lot of to do with it. If I'm shooting somebody like, in this case, she's, almost taller than I am, I try to put the lights so we can reach her nicely, we had I'm using the scream umbrella to knock the sun from hitting the side of her face and they were using these cake pan lights on the bottom to fill in under the face and there's two different shoot's going on here or the one on the left is all natural light the one on the rights with the studio phil in natural light I usually go out for my commercial headshots and I literally take two things the michael parties will go with me there won't even be an assistant they're some of the things you're looking at here are higher production things where I've done for commercial work when I'm shooting individuals that scream umbrellas right over the head and I've got my cake pans with me and always carry a white bowl word or my sixty one reflector in case I'm in the bright sun and I need to fill with white if I have a squint er or a blinker the speed lights come out without without a doubt so here's kind of the placement of that and this thing on the top that looks like a ferris wheel is really the umbrella and it's right about the model's head and the board is literally right here like you see people sending on the beach you want that reflection in that phil to cancel out all lines on the face I have these two statements all women want to be tall, thin and young and beautiful all man want to be hot sexy and barrel so your light switches as you create it in that way women don't want lines in their face sometimes you want to show them on men because it makes him look stronger so where you tweak the light once we place it is going to be up to your personal taste but that's how I go about everything it's down to that simple many times I'm asked to recreate natural light and this was actually for an advertising campaign for a drugstore that's called long so I don't know if you have long struck store here I did a series of sixteen different images hung in all the stores and in front of the store for everything particular store the head in the united states the first three days we had natural light in the last day started snowing and it was like grey and dark outside so I pulled in the kino flows and we pulled natural looking backgrounds and set it up in the studio and kept going once it gets within too close to call for the models I still have to shoot so the clients are always asking me and art direction always asking me how can we recreate this natural looking like so at this point they want to learn how to find new new forms of light I was using kino flo diva lights there but the studio light is also a wonderful light from bo wants to do the same thing in the beginning when I first started using my speed lights I would pull them out and bounce them off of things I'm not wanted to find a wall if I'm wanting to shoot at this particular spot so my white foam core comes out a bounced the light office it spreads it all around on dh that was the first of may beginning to use my speed lights in the beginning when the economy twisted in like two thousand nine two thousand ten I was not excited about pulling my speed lights out because I was walking around it's this fabulous photographer and I'm like why would I suddenly be using my speed like I can't show anybody that and now I use it almost all the time so one especially when I'm shooting individual shoots like that it says I'm usually by myself on my bigger jobs I've got my my studio gear with me but I'm going to start showing you now lighting setups and ways that you could just completely key off the light by using all the different modifiers I've shown you earlier today we can start to manipulate the quality of light and no one knows the difference whether they're shooting in natural light or if you were in a higher volume studio type situation I can make a total clam cell set up with my road modifiers if I want and grid the background put impact there I can also use them here bouncing straight off the shiny boards that I was talking to you about earlier and spreading the light out you can't even tell it's not natural life as I'm also making this natural looking light. This is the same light that I would start shooting my headshots with for classic lifestyle catalogs always trying to consider the natural light first because the natural light makes the impact where I need to be. This client wanted it to feel like they were at a resort, but we didn't go to one, so we found this cool place that we could work and we were in a time of the year where the color and lease had faded a little bit and it was like, you know, we're gonna have to shoot before it was in late fall right before the leaves changed and I pulled in my studio set up here and in the background I had beady dish on the background to help illuminate bring some life back there and I used my octus off box to completely fill in the front of their faces. The controlling part of the exposure was the daylight so that you have the flash is phil and not the other way around so all about making the mood of the light and moving the light, manipulating it, getting it where you want this picture these set of pictures were shot at twelve noon and you would never know it by looking at their faces their faces almost look like a studio let it but I had two assistants holding the scream jim's above their head and placing them in the shot out remember when I said the three points of where the light should be behind the model or behind me and the shot on the right, the light is behind the model, the shot on the left, the light is behind me and I'm manipulating it moving you don't sense that by looking at it you just see beautiful clothes and interesting faces. You can't tell where I've manipulated the light from except for the shadows that are falling on the on the subjects and on the ground around the canoe and such in this circumstance I'm working in a place that had beautiful light naturally but beautiful white doesn't fall in the eyes naturally you have to bring it sometimes when you get further away from the subject, you're going to need something that can spread that light far for you and the eighty four inch silver umbrella and the orb with e cover full off the front khun do that for you almost a mirror on the inside and these were shot with one speed light and used is my fill with the umbrella really high into the side and completely concentrating on that ambient light from my exposure so commercial head shots to me are really clean, they're lit smoothly and the light should be pretty unsolved and this way you can pretty much hide anyone who has challenging features on their face their nose isn't quite strayed or anything like that softer light is for me is easier for retouching I carried the makeup on the commercial head shot all the way down, so I'm not tinkering too long with the makeup. The price points for head shots to me should be considered all inclusive, kind of in the time allotted and you shouldn't spend more than twenty minutes we took fifteen to twenty minutes retouching on your head shots, otherwise you're backing up the car with your time you've gotta maintain control of all of that. So all of these shots that you're looking at are lit with either studio line or speed light on location and and manipulated to keep the quality key. So my grim jim have you all been outside and the sun has set and you're like, wow, it's blue and gray? I can't am I going to do where my subject, the backgrounds falling into shadow? What I'm going to do, I lay people down and use what we have naturally from the sky to help me flatly light someone there's a lot of educational groups that disagree with flat light but the fashion industry had loves it if I were being lit for a head shot, I would want flat, really attractive line in my face so that I come across looking the best that I can be a sidelight on women is going to give you shadows and texture, and you're going to be re touching it to make that person happy, so take a few minutes and find the right light, and you can make your post work much easier on yourself. So if your eyes are the connector, the most important thing you can do when you're shooting a commercial headshot or glamour headshot or a personal friends head shot for facebook or a corporate head shot is to make their eyes have connective ity to it, a blank stare doesn't work in a commercial headshot, so you want to do everything you can to captivate that mood, whether it's having to squint their eyes or having them flirt with you in some way, I tell almost every model our subject that sits in front of me, there's a thousand ways for you to smile at me other than showing me your teeth well, let's, see if we could figure out some of those and it makes people think. Especially actresses, they love that they want to be more than just a pretty face or a handsome guy. They wanna have something else going on in there, and they want to build a show multiple sides to their personality and show what they can convey. So that being said, you wanna have impact with the eyes. Once you get your light and your clothes in the style of the hair and makeup, you want to have the impact from the eyes. So the whole time you're shooting, you need to be talking, almost like an auctioneer, not quite that fast, but you know what I'm saying. You want to be asking for everything you get so impact eyes key.

Class Description

Ready to add a new, lucrative dimension to your photography business? Join creativeLIVE instructor Lou Freeman to learn everything you need to know to take controlled, candid, and commercial portraits and headshots.

The skills you learn throughout this workshop can be applied to iconic portraits, pageant and glamour shots, headshots and other commercial photos, and beyond. You’ll learn about the industry standards for each type of portrait, including how to work professionally with a wide variety of clients. Lou will guide you through determining the unique goal of each shoot and developing a plan for giving clients the results they want. As Lou takes portraits live in-studio, she’ll share foolproof lighting and posing strategies. You’ll also build strategies for marketing and pitching to clients.

By the end of this course, you’ll have the artistic skills to take classic, iconic portraits and the marketing skills to attract clients who’ll drive your business.


Kent Youngblood

Really enjoyed the class and thought Lou did a great job explaining her process with headshots. I've used her headshot approach with natural light on numerous occasions and came up with stunning shots.