Skip to main content

Tools and Gear

Lesson 1 from: Commercial and Iconic Headshots

Lou Freeman

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

1. Tools and Gear

Lesson Info

Tools and Gear

Hello, everyone. So nice to see your shiny faces here today. Have a lot of cool things I want to share with you. Excited? Teo, be able to be talking about hit shots today. All of my life, I have done head shots from the start to the finish. From the beginning of my career, I got right into commercial work and editorial work in fashion and all in the background was shooting headshots. It was my bread and butter money. My advertising people didn't really want to know about that so much. But I did it's what paid my bills? To be honest, I had made a wonderful life. And in my mind about shooting fashion and traveling all over the world, working for editorial magazines and advertising clients, I was specializing in lights, camera and impact. For most of the photo shoots I would do in the background. I started noticing there was always headshots there. So I started nurturing that nurturing, shooting women of all ages trying to make normal people look amazing. There's something really rewardin...

g in that? That might be really the reason that kind of took off for may because it really got into that part of it, so to finally put this in a package and a wrapper on it and say, this is how you do it on the way I've done it's kind of rewarding too, maybe because I've never let that go. I've always kept that is a part of my business. I never put it on my website, but you can do that now, it's totally acceptable, and in fact, I urge you to try to embark on it. It's a great way to make a living. I have some friends that make a living doing shooting for law firms, bigger companies, and they do large groups of headshots and things like that, but it's really important that you can look at people, make some decisions about the structure of their face, their body, look at their clothes like the coloring and make good direction. The most important thing that I can impart with you today, beyond any lighting tricks I'm going to show you, is that your client needs to feel amazing and how you personally make that person. Phil is how the money will float for you in later shoots to come. You want people to walk out the door and go, wow, what an awesome experience you want to see on their face that they felt radiant and amazing and beautiful. There's nothing like that feeling because we all wonder at any age do we still have it? Are we still cute or we still handsome? Are we still hot? You want to try to make the people feel that way? Not in and I can sort of fake way you need to mean it so meaning it means you've got to bring it. We have to bring the clothes, the camera, the gear, the mood, whatever emotion you can bring to make the person feel great about themselves. So I'm super excited to talk to you about a lot of different things in terms of head shots today it's have about ninety slides I'm going to show you and we're going to talk about everything from actually defining what kind of headshots air right for the circumstance, what kind of light is right for that? And then we're going to talk about all the gear I use, and we're going to start shooting with the simplest to the most complex, if that's okay with you guys, I'm going to get started because I've got an hour and a half to really bring all this out for you. I call this modern light because I created ah whole siri's of dvds this year based on using simply speed lights, so if you're going to be with me for the whole a week, you're going to see a creative application of speed lights that I haven't seen anybody else in part on, and I'm going to take you all the way through the art side of it, to the fashioning boudoir and glamour aside, and then I'm going to tell you how to set up all these lights and make them permanently your settings so you can put him in the case and walk away and not be stressing out the next day when you have another shoot because, you know, once everybody sees how fabulous your pictures are going to come out, you want to be able to stress free easily, pull off all of this stuff I'm going to share with you guys. So here we go if you're interested in opposing, I'm going to talk to you a lot today and tomorrow and the next day about hands, feet, face, angle's, body angles, how to position people and how to tell them what you want so that they just sort of following you like you were leading an orchestra that is key in what they look like. They could be wearing a t shirt, a pair of jeans. But if you've got great posing and great message coming from your subject's eyes, then you're going to really bring it home, so if you like to see the creative modern light speed like dvds in complex beyond what we're even going to do today, you can purchase out at my website, I'm giving you a creative discount of fifteen percent if you're interested and we'll include the posing guide for you today, so we're going to talk about gear first, the reason why is I'm going to show you a lot of examples of how I shoot and when I refer to something, I want you to be able to remember what that piece of gear is. I call things there, I'll show you the technical name, and then I will tell you how I call it basically it's by what it does for me. So I call it the note gear fear I have, I spend money on things that I should I make things to use that if I leave it somewhere, it gets damaged by whether I don't caring threw in the trash start over, but the most important thing to me is my camera and my focus seeing abilities I have with my five d mark three really made this camera on efficient camera for me also love all of the inner workings inside the camera itself and all the things I can control and set and choose to set from that camera. My eighty five millimeter lens is my favorite lands to shoot for head shots because I like the compression I like the slightly enlarged eyes I can get from that I'm seventy two, three hundred if I weren't about one lands has probably your most versatile lands it's very lightweight but I love being able to pull out a long glands and, you know, get that lens length when I needed if I have a long, narrow face to shoot no khun, correct some of that and some of my students have seventy two, two hundred that's usually the first thing people buy if you have one of those that's a good choice for headshots and the twenty four two one o five that's my walk around lands if I'm going on a trip and I could only take one lands that's what it usually ends up being, but I suggest if you're going to shoot head shots with it, you try to go from eighty five to one o five in that area just to keep your subjects looking really great. So what I'm going to talk to you about today is some natural light, but basically I'm going to talk to you about moving light and reshaping light and making light more interesting not just from the commercial aspect of it but all the way through to the glamour in boudoir it's about creating a mood and an edge or an impact with your life, so you want to be able to move the line and see the quality of light that you really really are looking for? I'm going to begin the very first part of this lecture with talking about lifestyle photography because if you become really good at shooting head shots, you can get other commercial work from that if you go to in your hometown and vancouver, if you go down and get an account with someone to shoot all the head shots since you're making the decisions and you book him out to do that, they might call you back and ask you to shoot the annual report, we're going to want to do shots that have impact that look natural even if you've completely set the light up completely posed to people it's about making that light look yummy that creates that impact, so those are the kind of things you're going to want to build on these headshots with so balancing light and your exposure is really key for may waken use teo with our speed lights, we can take major ratings and try to balance out the light by toning up or down our modified like we're going to bring on set or use our reflectors for me and lifestyle, photography and head shots, especially commercial acting headshots is about making it look like nothing was really done the people look back with us, but you don't want to notice the light. You just want to notice an awesome looking person, so achieving that softly and suddenly with impact is really keep what we're looking for here. I use a lot of scrim and fill light and for me feel like khun b a mirror, a reflector board, a flexible phil or a scrim, jim or it could be an on camera flash with some sort of modifier with it. So areas of consideration when I'm working in natural light, you know which way would I turn myself in that natural light? We're goingto work over here first with a natural light coming in from these windows, even though it's kind of cloudy up there and we're going to move that light around with some nice reflectors that are kind of out of the scope of most normal people start out thinking they need you one if you're gonna work in open shade, are in the shade, you need a lot of shiny reflectors. If you're bright sun, you want to find some slightly out of the sun element and use white boards to soften that effect. The shiny reflectors aren't good in the brighter sunlight, so I went over it a little too fast. So character's characteristics of natural light for me is if I'm going to walk out and shoot head shots and I'm going to someone's home or to their office and I decide I want to shoot their trauma best to go to their location before the shoot. So I know where the light is if I picked an example of where I want to shoot earth person tells me they want green background of architecture er they want office environment in the background if it's outdoor indoor I'm already thinking about the quality of light that's the first thing that comes into my mind, where is that light going to be? Is it going to be bouncing off a building? Is it coming through a window? Are there nice architectural lines and beautiful shadows that I confined for a background? I'm always trying to find something that exists already at the location that I can work with, so you want to pick the best time of the day to be there. So if you go in advance, you can usually check with sun is coming from so if you're shooting in the morning or in the middle of the day of the afternoon or it sense it that, like, totally change for you, so you want to ask a lot of questions and you know when somebody tells you they can only shoot on saturday at noon are a tte lunchtime that might you know your results are going to be drastically different than the perfect scenario you would already normal too to pick so I'm like asking myself on that light is falling around where I might be planning to shoot what intensity is is it direct sun is it shady is it had to have a blue cast to it? Is it yellow if it's high noon is it white and a lot of gray shadows so those are the things that I'm looking for when I start trying to figure out how I want the subject to look if I'm shooting for a law firm and I've got to do a lot of pictures lined up in a row that I'm going to want a place I can work for a long period of time so these are things that are going to make it easier on you when you actually get to the set so basically when we're working with natural light I'm looking for three positions that I can work with sometimes it's about the background in the client might say to you I really have to have a graphic background or I'd like to have something that looks the mood of what I'm selling myself or if I'm an actor or let's say they were written a book on healthy eating habits and you're right, you're taking a photograph of somebody for a cover of a book you're going to want something that feels good hire qi lighter and feel in the beginning you want to write all these things down when you're interviewing that person and getting some good ideas of what kind of feel you would really be good for that person, so I'm usually picking from thes three locations if I just walk right out the door there's really three positions I'm working forthe natural light the light is either directly behind my subject are directly behind may or to one side or the other, so I'm going to show you how to quickly remedy that and howto work through that today I use a lot of scream gyms and I bought scrim june's from my catalogue days my career I don't know if you guys have read anything about me much at all that my career has been vast I spent a lot of time working for macy's and neiman's and sacks and riches and all kinds of advertising campaigns and I was on the beach constantly shooting so we always had scrims scream and scream and feel situation set up sometimes I would you shiny boards on stands and then my assistance would be holding the screams above on the beach the script jim is one of the the most effective in and most used piece of gear the I own I have my kid has three scrim jim's, innit you khun by the six by six. But if you choose to have more versatility, the eight by eight is a better choice, meaning that you can turn it into a background and things like that and you can have something standing in front of it. You don't have to worry about the crop lines and things like that, but I have to a one and a quarter stop silks and one silver. It comes in with many other things that you can use on the background you can also use change it out for screens and things like that if you'd like to shoot video. Eso getting a kit together of this in the beginning is something that you'll thank me for later. I've had my original scream jim's for almost twenty five, twenty six years, and every so often I buy a new silk has velcro around it, just put the whole thing together and one person can lift it up with one hand and put it into place. The wind could be an issue, so you need two people. They have grips and clamps and stands that you can get if you're working by yourself. The picture here is not is obviously to see has how big it really is there, but puts out a beautiful quality of light. I used the silver, sometimes I flip it around to the white side really easy once you buy the guy a guess what you khun d'oh make up four by four because you can take it apart and make it smaller, and you just have to buy the script smaller scram. So if you're just doing head shots, you may not necessarily want to go up to the eight by eight, but if you think you're going to shoot smaller, so you see how she's kind of size that went down to that real easy operate, and this eighty four inches, she threw umbrella is something that I I bought strictly first ground on dh since I've had it, I'm knowing, turning it around, making it into some what of a soft box when needed when shooting by myself. As I've rolled through my career, I used to show up with a box trucks, three assistants, and, you know, we're running around setting up all kinds of light, but as the economy has affected the way that I do, things there's been less and less and less of that, so I've had to come up with cool ways to shoot. On a budget and that I can physically handle so I'm not worn out before I ever start taking the picture of someone by setting up all my gear so my speed lights in my scream gyms have really become a good port part of that when I'm using my six and one reflector that I bought the one that has three different colors gold, silver and gold and silver ninety percent of the time I'm either using gold and silver side or just the silver side the gold bright gold side I would only use if I was in a super golden sunset on the beach right in the last few minutes of the day but premier li I lean in the warmer tone um I have made myself thes from party city these were kind of a fun little thing everybody teases me about them but they worked beautifully there liners that you get from party city to put children's birthday cakes on they're two dollars and forty nine cents apiece and I get three of them and a tape them together and they fought I fold him up like this and I call it a trifle ector archaic board but the light that you see on my face there is completely and totally coming from that cake pan and I'm in the open shade so it's putting nice light in the eyes closes down my pupil so you have a beautiful color so when I refer to the cake board of the cake pan light that's what I'm talking about and you see me pull it out after I've set everything up just come in and put that last little finishing touch in someone's eyes, so very quickly I'm going to talk about the six hundred x r t flash units and just tell you why I'm using them. I'm going to do a full demonstration of how to set them up and how you can keep him loadem loaded, set and saved so that when you go to pull them out from shoot to shoot, all you have to do is put them on the stands and set them up and roll with it makes a little easier for yourself, and then I'm going to show you howto get back to that if you lose your place with that, if you do something creative, you can always find her way back to reload. These are the only radio based speed like flashes that are available right now. I have six of these that I use regularly at least one sometimes three, but when I'm doing glamor, bridge or sometimes six on now that we're having a radio transmission, we can actually put the devices inside of soft box, it doesn't have to be seen by the trigger. So that's a cool thing that opened up all kinds of opportunities for may I could set my scream jim up if I'm by myself and that's all I brought reach over grab my speed light use my scream joe mr giant salt box so there is going to change your world if you would really kind of focus on using these speed lights if you're shooting every day a few shots you can exist fine with your speed lights if you're at the point where you're shooting all day long you know doing a law firm or something like that you're twenty headshots on tuesday and friday you got dr saturday's shooting your actors and actresses you need studio lights for that and then save your speed lights when you go on location and make it easy on yourself so but you're still going to want to know how to set them up and I'm going to say to you right now face that which you fear the most so if you've got something in your camera bag and you've bought it and you're not using it the best thing you do for yourself is to sit down and make yourself learn it because then you're gonna surprise yourself and when you surprise yourself guess what? You are excited you have something to share so light is the key to this in the light is what's going to make the magic happen for you now moving light as we talked about in the beginning, we can change the light that comes out of the quality of this device and turn it into something really special, soft and beautiful. So we're going to work with the speed lights a little bit today and with studio lighting, we're going to work with the radio based transmitter and we're going to use it to synchronize flash the rest of the flashes that are going to be on our set. We're going to set them up. You can set these up into fifteen into fifty you can connect it fifteen different flashes into groups a, b and c. If you have a newer camera like a five d mark three or one d x, you have the choice of adding thie advanced groups of d n e, which is amazing the zoom capability on the top of the head let's the flash move in and out and it will spread the light out our narrow down the spread of the light. When I'm using a soft box or the orb or something like that to put the flash head and I love to be ableto put it out as wide as possible and use as much of the light for the spread of the light we're going to talk about several things today, not just quality of light. In moving the light but how to redirect and confine where that light is going when we get into glamour and mohr into the playboy style of things, we're going to talk about controlling that spread of light down to find amounts of light it's not about how wide open the shot canfield, how sexy and dark and moody it can feel so we're going to go through the whole breadth of lightning and these three days with all the different things that we're working with, we're going to start with cleanest, simple, most beautiful light natural light and then we're going to construct it all the way to the end knowing that you can put these speed lights and all these different modifiers is going to give you a whole other wealth of opportunity for making cool things happen in westcott I use these modifiers on a regular basis my my favorite modifier from westcott is the orb it's super shiny on the inside you can see it here on the bottom the light stand kind of comes up in the middle and you place the light on a bracket so the thie actual modifiers hanging on the flash head which is very smart it will protect you from breaking the flash then you cover up the front and you have a beautiful octus off box so to me if I were going to emulate natural light and I needed to do that. We're in a place where there really wasn't any natural light. I would start pulling out the larger modifiers like the the the orb or even a knocked a soft box. The rapid box also was another cool thing that westcott makes, and it basically turns your speed light into a beauty dish. And the thing folds down to the size of a little umbrella that a woman could put in their purse so you can just kind of stuff that inside of your camera bag, and you already have a beauty light that you can take with you and manipulate your speed like I used the ice lights as well on a regular basis for head shots. I was shooting a portrait session a couple of weeks ago went to all this trouble to get to the location, and it started raining the exact moment when we were supposed to shoot, and we needed to be in a specific location to have this particular background and outside all the speed lights went away, and I brought out these and they did a beautiful job of emulating natural light. The color is really beautiful as well also, I forgot to mention there's a grid available for the orb so if you wanna have control of the light and not allowing it to spill all over your background and you just want to put that nice soft light right on your subject then you can control the spread of that by putting the grid on the front so you're going to see me talk about grids a lot this week and here's another cool set of devices that you're going to want if you're going to start getting off into using your speed lights this is a really cool device on the top called a triple threat and say speed light device it was created by bruce dorn and you can put up to three speed lights on this one device so if you're interested in shooting high speed shutter sing I'm going to explain to you when the set up class how that works what happens to the power of your flash? You lose some of that power well to me if I'm going to try to balance out the sun I'm going to need more power so you may want to put two or three speed lights together so you can have it's more power of light back into a situation like that super easy to work with and you can see it's got the little stand sockets everywhere and I have some here I'm going to show you when we do the actual light demo the adjustable shu mt here allows you to put your speed light on light stand and the cool thing about this if you go on out and start to buy some things like this, make sure you get one can actually be tilted because you're going to the first thing you're gonna want to do when you put it on the stand is be able to change the angle of the light when you start shooting beauty and head shots and things like that because people are all different sizes and shapes, and you might want the light above or down low. You may want to come in with a light from underneath it's tipped up. So if you buy these things, make sure you get one that has an adjustable tilt on that and here's a cool thing that westcott has that I found super efficient. This thing is called a magic slipper, and guess what you could do with that. Put any modifier you own on your speed like now, so if you've got a studio running like tobin already has a business, it sounds like you wait might want to get something like this and try it with this. Your modifiers are ready before you go out and spend a lot of money on other things, but it comes complete with its own little bracket you just adjust from there. And the second group of modifiers that I like to work with are these rogue modifiers, and this is kind of cool for may I came across these stephen eastwood is a glamour photographer them good friends with, and he put one of those in my hand and said, lou, you're going to go crazy, so he gave me the first one, and then now I have six of the grid spots. I have two extra large modifiers that I can convert into the strip bank on dh, then there's a large size, and then the one in the center there comes in the smaller kit. I have several sets of the jails, and when I'm creating crazy moods and things like that, when I get into more playboy like or glamorous type shoots, I used the color for impact, and these have made my speed lights into a fun new toy for me. I can also do a full on playboy style set up with my speed lights with ease by converting thes lighting setups into the same kind of set up I would do with the big studio lights. The way the grids work is, they're stackable, and I don't know if you guys are familiar with how a grid works, but they come in different degrees, there's five, ten, fifteen there's work in forty five, eighteen for twenty five and forty five by stacking them up. And what that does is it allows the light coming through the spin, like teo, just narrow its scope down to a controllable amount, so you may want a little spotlight or a bigger one on dh. You can choose that, but how you stack and arrange those and all of the jails are that I choose or in the cinema. When I came to the agreement to do this show, I called them and said, can we make a kit for me? That has just what I use? Because some of the people that work with me may not want to have the smaller fashion flash vendors, they may only want this exact gear, so they've created something at a big discount for you guys. If you think you're interested in this, after you take a peek and see how I'm using this, this is just for one side of it would be a great way for you to get into it, get started and try it out. I'm going to be working with boeing's lighting today, the gym and I kids, the kids have to strobes there, five hundred what packs each, and they come with a pulse are receiver and a trigger and it works very simply it's very chic very modern, very lightweight and made of metal so it's super star t I'm going to be working with anywhere from one to six of the strobes at one time on a set and I'll be teaching you how to light and how to make your shot and the background in the foreground have impact with this light while we're working together they also have wonderful modifiers that air high quality they have this cool speed ring that collapses kind of folds in half and you could take your soft box and just hanging on the wall without taking up all that space some of you might have big studios others were always tell me I don't know where to put all the stuff but it all collapsed down really nice and very chic very slim boxes and it's also made very well um mohr grids more grids for having effect they have grid kids a barn doors and then the reflectors all fit very nicely together I'm going to use a beauty dish in a beauty dish with the grid and a soft box and show you howto work with that fur to create beauty light and I'm just showing you hear their strip thank the use centimeters for a description but it's like a one by three and I used those to help like this side of the body to give shape and form and they also have grids for the south boxes, so if I'm trying to make moody light, I want to control that self box fall off. I can work with that as well. We also have I used some continuous flow, like much like what you're seeing here on our set today to help me get on interesting quality of light. I use this a lot fashion, but I also use it when I'm making my artistic body shots and things like that. It has a beautiful, soft, elegant glow about it when it touches the skin, the fallout from the line just rather quick. So if you wanna have someone that's silhouetted in some shadows, we're going for our very last I think she were doing is an all black set up, and the only thing you're going to see is the subject kind of floating in that space. This life is a great one to use for that it has the ability to change color temperature on the back, and you have a lot of control over the shift in the tilt in the turn right out of the light as it's attached to its own head and stand and it's super sturdy, I'm also using the line like mosaic panels, which are daylight temperature led pamela's well. These air small. If you were toe, pick it up in the case. It's. Not much bigger than your laptop. Very lightweight. If you're going to go in that direction, that would suggest, too. The other cool thing is, you can use both this lightly one before for your video lining, and they take up very little space to store. Also in a studio.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Commercial and Iconic Head Shots Slides.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

Dianne N

Awesome class! Well worth the cost for advice and expertise from such an amazing photographer. Lou Freeman is an excellent teacher. She explains and describes in detail how she is photographing, why she is doing it that way, the equipment she is using and how to interact with your subject. I can use these headshot strategies in every aspect of my photography. Thank you Lou!

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.

a Creativelive Student

I love Lou’s teaching style and genuine desire to share her deep knowledge and experience. Absolutely my favorite instructor on Creative Live.

Student Work