Headshots: 3 Go To Set Ups for Men and Women


Portrait Photography Bootcamp


Lesson Info

Headshots: 3 Go To Set Ups for Men and Women

This is your go-to guide for headshots. The next time someone ask you to take their headshot to do their portrait, you're going to be able to quickly and easily reference this guide for both posing as well as a variety of lighting setups. So, let's jump right into that and where I want to start is I wanna start with what exactly is a headshot. A headshot is a term that can be used somewhat loosely. Sometimes an actor has a headshot and usually it just means a closeup of somebody's face but it could be for business like a corporate headshot that is intended to be a little bit more formal. And there's some expectations around a corporate headshot. It could be an actor's headshot and so, there's all these different types and you should do your research to see what is standard in the industry at the moment. Because what's in for an actor's headshot versus a corporate headshot, those are actually quite different things. I'm also going to refer to a headshot as a tight beauty shot or a close...

up shot for a woman. Or perhaps for a senior portrait, the headshot would be what goes in the yearbook. It's encompassing all of these different things. I want to give you a checklist and I want you to study this checklist so at your next, your next headshot you're going to be able to go through each of these five things right down the line. And if you are checking them all it's going to make sure that your shoot is successful. So let's cover those right now with your headshot checklist. Number one, expression. If the expression isn't good, if the connection with the camera is weak then it's going to be a weak headshot. You don't have the ability to have a weak connection with camera or expression because that's all you've got. It's a closeup of the person's face. And so, remember that you want to be confident. Your confidence feeds into them. You want to make sure that you complement but you mean it sincerely. You want to figure out the person's passion so you can connect with them, have a conversation. Pull into emotions because you know what they love, what they're passionate about in life. And then lastly, don't forget that you need a confident expression or expression that's expressing whatever you're trying to communicate in this headshot. Is it meant to be soft? Is it meant to be jovial? Is it meant to be something funny for a comedian? So that expression is going to be really important to having a successful headshot. And definitely check out on YouTube, my friend Peter Hurley has an entire video called The Squinch and it's all about changing the position of the eyes to connect with the camera, to communicate emotion. And it communicates confidence. And often it just takes it from being kind of a deer in headlights look to actually having a story, having some interactions. So that is number one, if you do not have great expression in your image then it's not a successful headshot. So check your expression. Number two. Number two is remember relaxation is important. Even though you're not photographing the rest of the body, it's just pretty much head and shoulders, if the person is not relaxed it is going to show in so many different ways. You want to look for it and where you're going to see it is you'll see if someone's stressed in their shoulders because they'll be raising their shoulders up. You might see it in their jaw because people when they're tensed they bite down on their jaw. You may see it in their lips if their lips are too pursed. Or perhaps you see it in raised eyebrows or if the hands are in the photo, you'll see it in the hand. So go through and make sure that they are relaxed. Have them breathe in, breathe out and give yourself a little bit of time to get to know your subject so that they can get relaxed on your set. Tip number three. Check the eyes and there are several things that you're looking to check. First of all in a headshot be sure that the eye closest to the camera is the one in focus especially if you're shooting at a really narrow depth of field. Typically for a headshot you want to make sure that those eyes, the eye line in your composition is not below the top third or too far below it. You don't want the eye line to be very low in the frame. That's going to diminish the subject instead of giving them confidence or power. So perhaps somewhere in the middle or around the top third line. Also speaking of eyes, if the subject is not looking at the camera, if they're looking away, make sure you don't just see white of eyes. Direct the eyes to what they're supposed to be doing. Maybe it's the connection with camera, maybe they're looking straight at camera, maybe they're looking up to the light. And then also related to your eyes you want to make sure that the subject is not squinting too much. And some people when they get nervous in front of the camera they kind of tense up. So, remember the eyes are the window to the soul so that's going to be important. Number four. The next thing on my list for a successful headshot is to check the jawline. And when people sit in a chair or if they're nervous they pull their chin back. It will give them a softer jawline or a double chin. So remember to coach your subject, chin out and down and you'll hear often I'll say pull up to the top of your head and elongate. Good posture, chin out and down. Make sure that you're constantly coaching them because as they get more relaxed they might forget that key step and a nice strong jawline is going to lead to a more flattering headshot. Lastly would be hands. If you have hands in a headshot be careful to ensure that they're contributing to the photo and not distracting from. In fact, most headshots do not include hands. Most actor's headshots are not going to have hands in them because it's really about connecting with the camera. So, in a closeup shot if the hands are in that photo they're going to be dominant and you want to make sure they're carefully placed. You don't want them to be too tense, you don't want them putting pressure on the side of the face. You wanna see the pinky side of the hand. So as you're going through this checklist be sure that the hands are adding to the photo, not taking away. This is true for men, for women. Make sure you go through these top five tips for having a successful headshot. Also wanna talk about some lens choice. If you're shooting a headshot you're going to want a slightly longer lens. And so, some that you might consider would be the go-to headshot lens would be a 70 to 200 2. or if you have an 85 millimeter. It would be fine if this 85 millimeter is 1.8, 1.4, 1.2. That is going to give you enough compression to get a pretty decent headshot. Typically however, people like a little bit more compression, a little bit more distance so people tend more towards a 70 to 200 versus a fixed 85. But one other lens you might wanna check out that we haven't talked about too much is this 135. This is a 135 2. and many portrait and headshot photographers love this lens because at 135 they love the compression for a nice tight headshot. It's flattering to the features and at 2.0, the background just melts away on location. For a headshot it's not about the location, it's not about the background. So if you are shooting outside you probably do want a wider aperture, a narrower depth of field. So you're really just focusing on your subject, their expression. All right. Let's get started with female, women's portraits and headshots, so the closeup shots. I'm talking about beauty, I'm talking about portraits, I'm talking about business headshot, corporate. And so, I'm going to start with three go-to poses and after I go through all the things I'm going to cover we'll actually pop over and demo everything. I recommend that you have about three go-to headshot poses and the first one is just generic head and shoulders. Keep it clean, keep it simple but be careful of your subject facing completely straight on to camera. Because this is when they'll look widest. Instead vary the angle, help them look more slender. We're to draw the attention to the face. Often if someone's face is completely straight on towards a camera, your eye is going to be attracted to the brightest part of the photo which could be light hitting the chest. So this is something that you'll want to experiment with and we will see how I'm studying my subject to determine where they should be facing. But really it's a super simple pose, straight on towards camera. Now, as you are looking at somebody for a headshot you might want to determine what their better side is, the best side because everybody has a favorite. And I have no problem asking somebody if they have a side that they prefer and a lot of people won't realize what side that is. So I will often ask if you are taking a selfie what side of your face do you put closest to camera? And that's the side that they prefer even if they don't realize it. So I'm going to make sure that this is also the side that I try closest to the camera. And I'm sure I might try both but that is kind of a giveaway. I also look for where people have their hair parted. Sometimes when people have their hair parted on a certain side of their face, it means that they favor that part of their face because they're kind of highlighting it especially with longer hair. They might be hiding the other parts of their face and the part is actually showcasing the side that they prefer. So for that clean headshot, that very basic pose, there's actually a lot that you can do to figure out where somebody's strengths or what their good side is. For my second women's headshot pose this is going to be the corporate headshot for a woman in power. She's going to have her arms crossed but hands not in fists or hidden. With the hands soft and open it's more approachable, it's more inviting. So we'll cover that shot as well and this is something that you will often use if you're doing a corporate women's headshot. And then my third pose is going to be a closeup shot with a gentle hand on the face or neck, and this would be more likely for beauty. You want to see the pinky side of the hand, soft fingers, having the hand go around the face. So those are three go-to poses that I'm going to put into action and add those to your arsenal for any closeup women's headshot. But let's talk about our options for lighting. I have a class on studio lighting here on CreativeLive, Studio Lighting 101, where I cover dozens of different studio lighting setups. But I wanna keep it simple and I'm going to give you these three set ups with one light, two lights or three lights. It will give you a flattering women's portrait. The very first setup is just one light and it's going to be an octabox. And if you want to communicate something that's a little bit more welcoming or a little bit higher key, you may want to add a reflector to fill in the shadows. You may wanna keep that light more centered. Use a little less shadow. But the further off you bring that light to the side you can introduce more shadow. So my recommendation is to have the octabox somewhere in loop position and add a reflector to control the shadows. If you have a second light I recommend that you use an octabox in the front and then a second light behind your subject for a really high key look. And the light we're going to use in this instance is a three by four-foot soft box. We're actually going to put it behind our subject so the background is now white, it is now high key so if I center my octabox, I have soft light in the front, I can add a reflector to fill in the shadows and beautiful glowing light that wraps around her from behind, and now I have a great high key headshot, also really wonderful for beauty. And my third setup is if you have three lights, if you have three lights to work with. You're going to use one light in the front and two strip lights from behind. If it's for beauty you might consider trying out a beauty dish, 20-inch white beauty dish. Or if you primarily shoot portraits I would go with the octabox. Again adding reflector or taking it away depending on how much drama that you want. So those are three lighting setups with one, two or three lights and you're going to see those in action. But let's talk about my recommended poses for headshots with men. Our first pose is again the generic head and shoulder shot but keeping in mind that men have a good side of their face, their preferred side of their face as well. Often what I do is I'll face the subject to one direction and then I'll face them another, and I'll try both shots. I'll maybe shoot tethered so they can see the photos and let me know which one they prefer. Or I'll try both to see which one I think is stronger. Even though there's no hands, it's not anything complicated for a pose there's still a lot to pay attention to. My second pose that I recommend for men's headshots is the corporate pose with the arms crossed in front. And if you're going to have a hand out you don't usually want it to be the one in front for a guy. The larger hand becomes a little bit distracting. And so, I usually have the hand firmer or tucked underneath the arm with a lean towards camera communicating power. And then third is somehow involving the hands to be pensive, your third pose. It could be a hand to the side of the face, it could be a hand to open up the button of the coat but you're using the hand in someway to communicate strength or thoughtfulness. And so, it's going to add a little bit of variety to your pose. You have three go-to poses there, nice and simple. Let's talk about our three go-to lighting setups for photographing men's headshots. I'm gonna talk about what you can do with one, two or three lights. Our very first lighting setup is going to be with an octabox. It is the most forgiving of modifiers so it's a good go-to headshot if someone just wants a flattering light. And so, I recommend that you keep this light at paramount or loop just a little bit of shadow. But the more dramatic you want the further you pull it off to the side. You can give a very dramatic headshot by creating Rembrandt light on the face. If you have a second light I recommend you add a rim light in to separate your subject from the background. It lights their hair the side of their jaw and you can use barn doors or a strip bank. In this case we are going to use a strip bank but if I want something really crisp and contrasty barn doors would be a good solution. That's with two lights but if I have three lights I recommend doing three-point light. One light in the front that is going to shape the face, create drama. I can have it off to the side for more shadow and then two back room lights. These could be barn doors, these could be strip lights. For the purposes of these portraits we're going to do an octabox with two back room lights that are strip lights, and this can give us drama. So right there with just really two modifiers and a total of three lights we have three drastically different portraits. Those are the fundamentals of putting together both men's headshots and women's headshots. So let's take a look at all of those poses and all of that light in action. All right, let's do our first headshot light combined with our first headshot pose. So the light that I have here, all the stuff in the background I'm not using it, it's just one light. It's going to be the octabox, the one that we're specifically using here is the Westcott Rapid Box. This is usually what I take on location. And its placement is in a looped position. What that means is Phalin if you look straightforward, I see just a little bit of shadow cast to the side of her nose. If I want a little more drama or a little bit more carving out of her face I can raise the light up, and I've chosen an octabox because it's going to be very forgiving and very glowing on the skin. The pose that I'm going to place with this lighting setup is going to be the strong, corporate headshot pose. And so, I'm going to have Phalin cross her arms, cross your arms for me, perfect. And she has done it beautifully. You don't want stressed out hands, crossed fists gripping onto the arms. Instead what you want is really soft fingers. And you want the hands to be open because that communicates welcoming and approachability. Do you see this nice pinky side of her hand, not squeezing her arm. It's very opening, it's still strong and I'm gonna lean her just a little bit towards the camera because that's going to indicate power and confidence. I'm going to be shooting with my 70 to 200 2. and I'm going to crop so that I don't crop into her fingers. Now, if I see a great headshot that I wanna crop just to the head I can but in this case for the corporate headshot I'm going to crop just out or just below the elbows. So one light with an octabox. Now, because right now it's one light. The right hand side of the face is going to have a bit of shadow. If I want this to be a little darker maybe a little bit more serious, I can leave it as is. But If I think the shadow looks too dark or just a little bit distracting I can add a reflector or a fill card to fill in and lighten up those shadows just a bit. So let's take a look at what this looks like. Perfect, Phalin. Great and chin out for me. And down just a little bit and lean towards me a little bit more. (camera shutter clicks) Great. Beautiful. (camera shutter clicks) And I'm looking at the shot and I think that it needs a little bit of separation so could I please have a reflector and I would like the silver side towards her face. The closer that I bring the reflector in the more it will fill the shadows so I still want a little shadow right there is great. And so it's just going to make sure it's not quite as dark. (camera shutter clicks) Also I wanna make sure I'm not shooting too far of a low angle so I'm not shooting up her nose. So if I want I could shoot an apple box, stand on an apple box if I wanted or my tiptoes will be fine for this one. And Phalin can you turn your chin back towards me just a little right there, great. You look like a corporate businesswoman, it's good. Good. All right, great. And those shadows have been softened just a bit. One other note for that reflector, I'm sorry. Can you bring it back around behind her? If I place that same silver reflector opposite of the light, it is no longer softening up the shadows, it actually creates a rim light. There's going to be a little bit of separation, a little highlight as if I had a second light. So, that looks great and can you back up with the reflector just a tiny bit, right there, good. So it will be just a bit of separation, very, very subtle so she doesn't blend in to the background. I can do all of those different looks with one light and I think you look great. Why, thank you. All right, so let's go on to setup number two. In this setup I'm gonna go the opposite direction, I'm not going for strong, confident business portrait. We're going to go for high key beauty. High key as you know from our previous bootcamp sessions means mostly light, predominantly light colors. Not or light tonalities. Not a lot of shadow. What I'm doing is I'm adding that soft box behind her, it is the three by four-foot. That is going to be my background, it is going to be white. And what it's going to do is it's going to not only act as a backlight but back rim lights. It's going to wrap around her jawline and I can see it right now if I look. I see highlights on her jaw, I see highlights on her neck. And so, let's just take a shot of what that looks like right now and I can figure out how bright or how dim I want that backlight. Let me just take a quick shot. (camera shutter clicks) Well, that looks pretty good. That was pretty easy. So taking a look at this what you see is that soft box behind is the background and the rim lights. If I turn off my main light, you can see exactly what that backlight is doing. (camera shutter clicks) It's lighting either side of her jaw. I mean it's beautiful because it's showing her jawline and a little bit on her clavicles. I could completely make this a beautiful high key picture and get rid of more shadows by bringing the light more centered. Get rid of a little bit of shadow on the face but I actually think it looks quite nice with the shadow on the right hand side. Because with that shadow, the background light actually shows up more. Because the shadows are contrasting against the highlight. But let's go to the pose that I wanted to do, pose number two or the second pose is going to be a soft hand by her face. So can you trace your hand, your index finger around the side of your face. Perfect, lower, lower, great. Now, turn your hand in towards your face, tuck your thumb. Great and a little bit lower. Perfect. Lean toward me just a little bit and chin down. Great. Let's take this shot. (camera shutter clicks) Let's take a look. Beautiful and I want a little bit longer fingers and hide your thumb even more, and rotate your hand towards your face just a little bit. Beautiful. Good. (camera shutter clicks) Okay and I want you to give me a little more density in the eyes. (giggles) Oh, that's that. So you know. (chuckles) I know you'd like that to bits. And bring that pinky in just a little bit, it's a little bit rogue, okay. And just wiggle real soft, last one. Perfect and intensity in the eyes again. (camera shutter clicks) And if your subject you wanna try something new, you can try the hand around the side of the neck. All of these would be fine. Perfect, yeah that was great. Perfect, right there. And then turn your head back towards me just a little bit and turn your hand towards your neck. So, all of those will be fine but it's just a soft hand and high key beauty. Just to show you the modifications that I could get with this shot, I included shadow on purpose but let me just go the opposite direction. Really glowing high key headshot. Can I have a reflector underneath? And I'm going to move this from loop position over a little bit more to paramount, get rid of a little bit of that shadow. Good. So the centered light, silver underneath that good enough or do we need to angle it down a little? Angle it down a little. A little bit. A little bit more? How's that? I think that should be decent. Oh, I totally see it. So I've got this light so that it's centered, not much shadow. It's kicking down into the silver reflector and bouncing up to her eyes. This is clam shell lighting with the silver reflector. And then of course that soft box behind her. So now we're totally changing the mood and it is going to be much higher key. Oh, I love it, it looks beautiful. (camera shutter clicks) Let me zoom in nice and close. Let's try one more with the hand, I know that this is why you use reflector holders or John Cornicello, either way. Good and hide your thumb, hands toward the face a little. Good, real soft. And chin out and down just lean towards me a little. And then try hand on the neck, beautiful. Beautiful. See right there. (camera shutter clicks) And last one. Perfect. Beautiful. I lied. I say last one a lot and then I totally change my mind. And then one more real soft beside your mouth. Beautiful! And now intense eyes. (camera shutter clicks) When you did intense eyes your ears moved it was really funny. (laughs) So, can you wiggle your ears? Yes, I can. Yeah, I could tell. That was awesome. (laughs) Perfect. So that was lighting setup number two and pose number two. So, octabox in front, reflector and a three by four-foot soft box behind with hands next to the face. So let's go to our third setup. And the third pose we actually kind of, I actually kind of worked backwards. My third pose is just going to be plain old head shot. No hands, no crossed arms. But if I photograph her straight on that's what draws attention to the width of her shoulders. So what I may want to do is I may wanna turn the shoulders a little bit to the side. This makes her look a little bit more narrow and I wanna make sure when she turns to the side that her shoulder's not raised, that she lowers it just a little bit. And just relax your shoulders just a little more. Good and lean towards me a tiny bit just because it will elongate the neck. That looks great and so, for my back lights or for my three lights I'm using two strip lights and I can see what I'm doing there. By turning off my main light I can see both of those strip lights are carving her out or separating her from the background. I'm gonna turn this off and just take a quick shot. And you can see it highlights her jawline, it highlights her neck. It gives me this beautiful tendons in her neck, some attention to those. So that looks great and I'm going to add in my main light. And for simplicity's sake since many of you are just focusing primarily on portraits, the octabox is going to be a great choice. But if you wanted something with a little more contrast or a little more drama, you could add a beauty dish. It's interchangeable. It kind of depends on what you prefer to work with. The beauty dish would give you a little more contrast, a little bit more definition to the shadows, it'd be a little bit more crisp. But this is going to be great. And remember if I center or put the soft box right now is at loop, it'll be a little less dramatic. Sit up a little straighter and don't lean quite as much. Great. Remember that the height that you shoot at will make a difference. If I want a long neck I'll get back and down low. And this communicates a little bit more dominance in the photo. Or if I want to connect with camera I can stand on an apple box and shoot a little higher up. And make her eyes look a little bit bigger, perfect. That looks great. And those two back strip lights I have there, these one by four-foot strip lights and I have them so they're at probably about a stop or so less than the main light. This one I think right now they look about stop and a half to two stops, they're subtle. Just subtle highlights. If I wanted them to be more dramatic I'd turn them up brighter. You don't really have to follow a formula, you can go with what looks best. So if I wanted more drama I could turn those back lights up and move this light off to the side. So I'm just do that real quick. Can you just turn them up like maybe a stop. I'm gonna move my main light off to the side for a little bit more shadow. Perfect. A little more of a dramatic headshot. Perfect, okay. So let's see a little more shadow on your face, good. (camera shutter clicks) And pull your right arm back and the whole hand, don't wanna see it, good. Good. (camera shutter clicks) Great, so now those highlights of the background lights are popping a little bit more with a little more shadow on her face. That looks great. Okay, so those are three poses that we have here for posing women. One hand next to the face, the corporate pose and then also just a plain headshot and three different lighting setups with one, two or three lights. These are all for headshots. So now let's take a look at all of these things but when photographing men and see if anything changes. We're going to go through our three go-to men's headshot lighting setups as well as our three go-to poses. I'm gonna go through those right now and we're starting with our one light setup. Although there are other lights on set not using them right now. It's just this main light and this is a three-foot octabox, this one in particular is the Rapid Box Octa made by Westcott. And we've chosen this light modifier because it is forgiving on the skin. It's going to be a great go-to to get the best quality of skin for most people. Now, for this I'm gonna just do the basic head and shoulder shot, nothing too fancy. And straight on towards camera to me is a little boring. It looks a little bit flat. So I am going to turn you, turn to the side. All right, so this is going to give a little bit of depth but honestly, I'm kind of bored. There's not enough drama. I want a little bit more strength, maybe a little bit more shadow so I'm gonna try turning him the other direction. Good. All right, so now I'm gonna see a lot more shadow on the face. That was by moving him but I could also move the octabox to either side. I like this but I wanna make sure if you're doing just a head and shoulder shot that he's not turned too far to the side. Keep going a little bit more, keep going a little bit more. Because it minimizes him. He becomes a very small part of the frame and I want him to be in command of that frame. So I'm gonna turn you back just a little bit. Good. Lean towards the camera just a little bit, it's a little bit more of strength and power and as he leans towards camera, his eyes become a little bit larger. So, let me get this one light set up with an octabox. (camera shutter clicks) And make sure you stick your chin out and down. Good and lean towards me just a little more, good. (camera shutter clicks) Perfect. Looks great. And there's just enough light from this octabox hitting that gray background but there is a little bit of separation on the right side of his face. The right side of the face doesn't fall completely to shadow. However, if I thought that maybe, maybe it blends in a little bit too much, I can add a reflector. So can I have the silver reflector and what I'm going to do is I'm going to place it opposite the octabox to give me just a little bit of rim light. And so now it's going to catch that light, kick it back and now he won't blend in quite as much. Perfect. (camera shutter clicks) Great. And it's just a very, very subtle highlight, if I want it to be brighter I'm gonna move you in just a little bit closer and can you raise that reflector up just a little bit, and I'm gonna move you in even closer. The closer I get it, the brighter that highlight will be so right there. (camera shutter clicks) That highlights. Oh, that was a good connection with camera, I like that expression, that was good. (camera shutter clicks) Right there now there's a little bit brighter of a highlight. Separates him out from the background. Take it away one more time for me. Now it goes much more dramatic with shadows. Looks good. (camera shutter clicks) Okay. So looks like a nice headshot but let's go to adding in our second light. I want to carve him out of the background, I want a little bit of pop so I'm going to add a one by four-foot strip light. And I have this so that it'll pop him out from the background but not be too distracting. I don't want it to be overexposed. If in the back your camera you see the blinking overexposed lights, that means I'm losing all of my detail, I don't want that. And there's not a right strength of this backlight it kind of whatever looks correct for the mood. Lower power will be a subtle separation, higher power is gonna really define the jaw and the neckline. And one of the reasons I'm using the modeling lights here is that we can place that light where I will see the highlight on his neck, see the highlight on his jaw but I don't want that back highlight on his nose. If I pulled this strip light off to the side more it would start to wrap around his face and light his nose. And your eye goes to wherever there's highlights, whatever's brightest in the photo. So if there's a big bright highlight on the side of his nose, I can't help but look at it. When I add this strip light in I'm going to be sure to place it and use the modeling light so I'm really just eliminating the jaw and the neck, popping him out from the background. And so for our second pose, let's do our corporate power pose. Please cross your arms, great. And I'm actually gonna have you switch. I don't want the hand out that's closest to camera because I found it to be a little distracting. It's closer to the light so it catch a little bit of light. And if you wanna be a little firmer, I'll have you make the back hand into a fist for one if you're trying to communicate a little bit more aggression in the pose. Or open it up again, something that's a little bit softer. Perfect, so pull up to the top of your head. Great. Lean towards me just a little bit, chin out and down, perfect. Nice highlight on his jaw. It's a good corporate power headshot. If I want him to look a little bit more commanding of the frame turn a little bit towards the light. It can make him a little bit broader, makes it just a little bit broader. (camera shutter clicks) Great. (camera shutter clicks) Good. (camera shutter clicks) Perfect. All right and let me back up for one more. Shooting a little wide there. And can you make a fist with that back hand in this one and cross them just a little bit more. So bring up, yeah good. Good. And turn your shoulders to your right just a tiny bit, great. (camera shutter clicks) Be careful if you're doing this shot. If a man is wearing a suit jacket because in general when you cross the arms everything just goes wrinkly and it kind of falls to pieces. So you might not wanna cross as heavily as I did here. You might cross a little bit wider so that you're not causing so many wrinkles. So the clothing and the purpose of the shot will make a difference. So now let's go to our final setup and this is going to be even more dramatic. It's going to be three-point light. We've got a main light in the front and I could switch this out to something more dramatic if I want it to be really dramatic. But this is generally intended to be, it's intended to be a headshot so this is not necessarily cinematic. I'm going to add a second strip light. So I've got two strip lights. One highlight on either side to carve him out of the background. Right now I have an octabox, I could switch it to something with a little bit more contrast. And right now it's still more or less in a loop position. I can move this off to the side if I want it to be lower key. I could move it off to the side to create Rembrandt if I were going for something extremely dramatic. So let's try here first. And our pose is going to be something with a hand up by the face. So can you try something like this, good. And hand just a little bit further to the side. Okay. And let's try this side, okay. Oh good, the other side was good, perfect. All right. Good posture. Turn that direction again, great. (camera shutter clicks) Let's take a shot. That looks pretty good already. Can you turn your hand towards me just a bit. Yeah, good. And so what I see is I see bright highlights on either side of his temple. It pops him out from the background and the placement of this light gives just a little bit of shadow on that right hand side of the face. If I want more shadow, easy. I just pull my octabox off to the side, casting more shadows opposite. And so now take a look at me, I'm getting a little bit closer to Rembrandt light. Yeah, chin a little bit more this side, towards, right. Right there. So I have Rembrandt light there. Lean towards me just a little bit, great. This is gonna give me even more drama. Beautiful. I have a catch light in his eyes, a triangle of light on the right hand side of the face. He looks comfortable. He's separated out from the background, it pops. And this gives me a lot more of a dramatic result. (camera shutter clicks) Perfect. (camera shutter clicks) And do one more lean just a tiny bit more, good. And give me nice, intense eyes. (camera shutter clicks) Perfect. (camera shutter clicks) And then do one more drop the hand. So let's show everyone looks like again. (camera shutter clicks) Great. (camera shutter clicks) Perfect. So, we've gone from one light, to two lights to three lights and in the end I'm using the octabox all the way, but whatever modifier you have you can make this work. Ideally something with a little bit more control. It'll probably be out of your reach to get this type of drama if you're using say a very large soft box or a very large umbrella. So something like an octabox or a beauty dish will allow you to achieve this type of look. And of course, instead of the two back strip lights, if you had barn doors you'd be able to achieve that same effect of three-point light. So we've gone through women's headshots, men's headshots, three poses and three lighting setups for both.

Class Description

Humans are social creatures. We love to reflect on ourselves and the people we cherish, and we like to have that ability whenever we please. Portrait photography is an excellent skill to cultivate for anyone with a camera - whether you're simply taking better photos of your family or want to build out your business's portrait portfolio.

Lindsay will walk you through everything you need to know to take great portraits. You’ll learn about:

  • Camera selection, settings, and accessories
  • Lighting and lenses
  • Posing and directing men, women, full-figured subjects, and groups
Portrait Photography Bootcamp will start at the very beginning and help you establish a foundation for all styles of portrait photography. You’ll learn about the essential elements of a good portrait; lighting, posing and expression. Then you’ll learn how to work with what you've got, with instruction on shooting with window, natural, indoor, and studio lights.


a Creativelive Student

This is Lindsay's best course to date and believe me, she has given us some good ones already on Creative Live. She hit this one out of the park! She was very well prepared and organized. I could tell that Lindsay put a lot of work into preparation for the class because she just kept giving us great information non stop. There was no down time or wasted moments. All future instructors on Creative Live should be encouraged to watch this course just to see what good instruction looks like. Lindsay has evolved over the past few years and just keeps getting better as time passes. Thank you Lindsay and thank you Creative Live for a job well done! Craig Banton


Lindsay is a great teacher by nature...She is a very talented, knowledgeable and experienced fashion/portrait photographer and I really like the way she shares her knowledge with us. She's got great vibes, lots of good energy and I could honestly watch her videos endlessly...I had already known a few things that this course covers, however Lindsay made it very exciting and I was happy to refresh my knowledge through her lessons. Thank you so much, Lindsay!