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Studio Lighting

Lesson 11 of 18

Shoot: Head Like A Kite Group Shot

Zack Arias

Studio Lighting

Zack Arias

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Lesson Info

11. Shoot: Head Like A Kite Group Shot

Lesson Info

Shoot: Head Like A Kite Group Shot

now we're going to the group shot do do do do I want to stick with my eighty two two hundred or seventy two hundred whatever that lens is alright so whole band now head like a kite are you two guys right so this's head like a kite with collaborators right and kind of live right you guys kind of but you two are the face of head like right so we're going to start with you two and here's we're going to do okay I'm gonna have you here your body facing out just a bit but you're you're going to be looking at me here you're coming in here and you are facing this way all right when I am hosing a band all right a group of guys let's just say crotches point away from each other that's the on ly that's the only thing that I'm really going to say about it crotch never points to another I know right that's just typically that is my number one posing thing with a group of guys a cz crotches don't pointed each other just kind of naturally face away right see it's a natural kind of feeling right perfe...

ct so we're going to start with you two we're gonna get this shot all right I want that back leg just come forward a little more good and bring bring your right leg right upto where your heels at the back of dave's like touching heels khun touch right wait there we go right there so I'm just kind of making something symmetrical that far leg comes out this way just a little more little more making the symmetrical good six for this yeah let's do that like that there's you have a red shirt and that he has red pants I like I like that shut jack keep the jacket in fact hands in the jacket perfect right there and I want you very aristocratic alright rotate your body back that way a little more perfect right there and then you're very much front man all right um and I need I need your hands forward playing with the booth right there good I want to see his hands when his hands back here is hidden by the bowen was getting amputated right there good all right gentlemen here we go right here right there good dave chin up just a bit bringing that boa around front right there and then dave what I want you to do is bring your face around this way round this way good take your body weight put it back over this way a bit and really high up with the chin very by just you know I'm a gallagher brother uh not that high come down right there good trent you're doing great dave we have to worry about perfect that looks good great awesome well done now next hopeful band zahra you are going to be with a black hole is that what it is okay your lima beans all right so we're gonna build off of you two guys uh oh and brandy way have brandy around there you are just a little bit about the way grab fan it is a little warm in here internet plan all right now you're gonna rotate this way way and you're going to write you're going to rotate in here on a step this way I need a little space in here and then I want you in the middle somehow and you're like coming up like this and you're sticking your perfect right there your legs forward a little more forward than that perfect one hand on his shoulder perfect all right um tilson listen you're gonna be here somewhere on I may I made right it is not just pointing into each other come forward just a bit the one thing is you can't go beyond this line right here all right so maybe you'll put your foot here it's like a game of twister right if I had read yellow green dots all right we're gonna go oh well he's out of the band that's out of the bank while we're waiting for our other band member I want to make sure that I have even light across the group of people all right wei have five people on set I know it's f a bam how's that meter I already met her focus ofthis all right all right I'm at seven point one over here I'm it seven one eight it's one point six way try again eight eight eight eight eight eight seven one I'm losing a third or half stop over here somewhere so I just need to rotate this light around just a little bit yeah fane what's that yeah I know but I had already taken a meter about the where he would be standing what one of my oh that's where I'm caught all right I'm an idiot all right sir seven one still no the space of the world on I still don't get it right so I'm just trying to rotate that light around to this side give me half eight there we go eight eight don't hate don't hate eight I have eight remember remember remember remember remember everyone is at f ate everyone is even if if you want a light a group thie easiest way to do it is this light right overhead now if I bring my light over here I may have stopped of difference across from here to there inverse square law I need that light to fall off uh at less over distance when the light goes further and further away until such time as the light from one side to the light to the others within a third of a stop from each other I'm okay with that I would have been okay with a third of a stop across this group but if I want to really dial it in I have my meter all right so I've got the group I need everyone staying inside of the tile board because I don't want a reflection to get lost suddenly somebody's leg no longer has a reflection if you're trying to put five people in nine feet of space will actually feet of space they all have to like each other pretty well on smell good I'm adding one more sheet a tile bored so we have three sheets a tile board going on all right you're gonna come in just behind him right there and rotate that way just a bit and then come forward till your shoulders hitting right here crotches aren't touching alright on then come in just a bit yeah well kind of guy that people just want to touch all right you guys having fun way we're good all right so uh you know what we're gonna do a real quick live you let's go over to this machine way everybody all right you're going to see how tight this is I need everyone inside that white so everyone hears fun you're great as a group on if I could get right there they are there all right inside of white on I can get this shot done all right so let me close out of this go back in the white room I'm coming back here tilson I want you bring in your I always forget it's like to me it's his right but it's your left I need your left hand up here thea either one and it stays in your pocket and then wrote tape step just a little half step in actually come back onto me straight on and then step this way a little tighter right keep on coming perfect good right there that's perfect everyone's great so I want a full ng shot and everyone staying on white now it's gonna be a little messy it's not gonna be edge to edge to edge white I'm gonna yank this thing out of my camera most likely on I'll show you how I clean it up post there everyone's in white good all right everybody here we go we're on on notice using a light meter I haven't had to do any real like testing I trust my meter for everyone looking right at me zahra ten down just a bit right there dave head tilt over just a little bit greg I want you kind of looking that way just chin down a little more right there perfect tilson I want you kind of glance in that way here we go sarah I want you looking at the floor trenton dave you're looking right camera perfect you wanna come in tighter right everyone look it on camera doing great everybody way see if I can pull this off vertically ah vertical focus at f eight I have plenty of at the field so everybody sharp that's great and everyone on camera looking right at me dave your head tilt over just a little bit this direction right there perfect trent your chin down just a little bit it's in hand in pocket uh yeah the one on your face could come to your pocket right there awesome alright everyone serious here we go perfect good good good great all right so here's what I want you to do um way now we have a uh wei have kind of ah another area uh for folks to go and sit over there grab yourself a drink on y'all go on over to that room uh we'll be over there in a minute and thanks thank you we'll talk some more but I don't know uh actually the east coast city the east coast west coast we should actually fight I've been sizing you up all right as long as you know that alright great so uh we're gonna go hang out over there and here's what we're into her kill this fan brandy thank you so much we're good there one second I'm going to do something here it's my only copy let me get real important music okay so okay so internet land were still live right I was going to go to this white set we're going to kill that because I've spent time here and I want to show you a quick little thing and photos shut up all right don't worry we'll be back to this way have all day tomorrow as well right um how we doing on time we're good right yeah we're good are you good I'm good if you get on his good let's take a couple questions waken bring the uh house monitor music down just a bit like that all right I can start um all right susan there is a question in the chat room did the band dressed themselves or was their direction the band address themselves okay I knew if I got a head like a kite in here I had nothing to worry about I did my research I've watched all the videos I've listened all their songs I've seen all their pictures and I know that they show up with whatever we could have the panda suit if we want it like and the paint of suits in the next room if we wanted the pantsuit like we put the pan to suit on if you have seen the video you know so for them I knew and they walked in and I'm like great they walked in ready to go sometimes my clients were like that typically I say bring three four five six looks you can never bring too many I've had people empty their entire closet on my studio floor and we start to picket through um I am at their professional band I imagine they've already put some thought into it themselves this is not their first photo shoot so when they walked in the door they came ready to go and that was great younger band first press kit photo bring me all the looks you can and she's like I got all these t shirts and they're all black well what's black t shirt should we use the ones that says ramones with one that says ramon's um no I kid I'm er but no I don't uh I didn't have to do anything they walk to the door ready to go okay thanks questions good okay all right thank you wei have plenty of questions do you have any questions over here hit me with some quick I got questions all right actually they've been wondering when you're doing the moving sequences are you locking the focus before they move or how are you doing that when I'm doing the moving sequence I'm having them jump and having them twirl I'm having them stay in one spot or hit a target so let's say I was gonna have someone come in and I wanted them to be in the air here but they would start offset run jump I would have them stand in where I need them to be I'm gonna be f eight or something so if they hit over here on the mark or back here on the mark I should still be in focus I lock my focus I'm holding I'm not moving my camera and they back out of the shot and I say go and I'm looking through my viewfinder waiting for that moment and click or if they're just twirling right here that I'm focused locked click click click as soon as I see them twirl closer to the camera I have to refocus twirl further away I have to refocus and I'll let them get a little a foot or so often then I bring them back to the line and start again underdog and chat room wants you to tell him again while you're shooting with the two hundred if you're blowing out the background anyway and there is there a need to compress the depth of field it is I'm shooting like all right we have a white wall right that's whiter than nine feet I could pull this off without the seamless but the day's gonna come when someone sets up a nine foot roll of seamless against a red wall and the day they need to keep people within that and they can't go outside of it and the way you do that is with your focal length so for this set up right now I could actually take white gaff tape if we could get a shot from like this angle of the set white gaff tape the c stands on when I blow that wall white I get an extra two feet on each side of it and when I wiped gaffed the stands there blown out and I wouldn't see them so I don't have to take him out in post production but the day will come when you have to keep somebody inside that nine feet so yes I need to use the longer let's thank you more questions from the chat room where does that focus on the subject when he is holding out the flowers in front of him so that both flowers and face are in focus uh when he was like this uh it was f ate I always focus on the face always on the face unless for some reason it's all about those flowers and the shots about those flowers then I'd have them hold them out further focus on the flowers and his face go out of focus some if the shot was about the flat like a bride kind of thing and you want to do a bouquet shot but I'm always nine times out of ten focusing on the face and if if the flowers went slightly out of focus it's not about the flowers it's about the face okay uh I got another question uh from the twitter chat room how do you keep a non pro subject from losing interest as you worked to create the best lighting just talking chanting keep chattering have you all noticed that I can't talk right now I got the gift to gabs so part of ii if you don't have the gift a gap you need to learn and I have I've been to the wallflower I all through high school I was the shy kid I didn't have a whole lot of friends I listened to the cure I was depressed I wanted a girlfriend I never could have that like I was not the happy like hey how's it going everybody what's up until the point almost seven years ago that I realized that if no one knew I was alive and that I was a photographer and I could take pictures for a living if no one knew that I'm never gonna get hired you can have the snazziest website in the world of blogging all of that but if you don't actually go out and meet people and talk to them you're not going to get hired people need to know you're around and you're number one marketing tool is yourself no I'm not here to say to market yourself and forget about it do scrappy photography because it's all about you right no you need to come correct with some good photography so when they meet you and you say here's my work it is equally or actually better than you that's what I hope that's pretty easy to do so I want to show up with good work now I wasn't fully confident coming back into photography I wasn't fully confident my work but dang and I had quit my job I walk back into the photo industry I wasn't I didn't have a portfolio that was ready if I would've waited until my portfolio was ready I had never started I grabbed ten fifteen pictures I made some scans I threw up a website I went and made a card and I just went out and started meeting people and what I have found that if you are losing interest from your subject asked them questions if you're not a people person and you have a hard time talking just have a list of questions you ask people so what do you do what kind of music are you into do you have kids if they have kids there's another subset of questions to go through and you get them talking about themselves so you're working with your soft boxes you're taking meter readings you're chipping on your camera and you're asking him about stuff life sometimes I'll walk up to someone I'll say so what your big dream in life what do you what do you want to do with your life um um uh fight club who walks in you know and ask the cashier yeah what do you you know what was he was gonna be a veterinarian or something right I want to come back in and check on that and I was like what kind of like that I will sometimes confront someone what are your dreams where are you going oh well um and you can just change lights for a long time there now up in their head thinking about their dream they might start crying I mean who knows what will happen but you could be setting lights didn't they go you know I've always wanted to you know be a pilot great let's talk about planes I don't know but ask a big question you know have you ever had a big failure in your life what was that like I have been here for a head shot great well I just made a failure let me tell you about it right no asked him some then get to know him on you get to know him on like a pretty deep level they walk out of there like we just had some deep conversation you meet someone you have some deep conversation with them you think they remember you I think they think about that process and what it was like and you bring him into a nice environment and let me tell you aren't you know we're half vicky and half thrift store and half antique store we don't have the million dollar studio all right well when we put that we'll do a video tour on the block on a couple of weeks once we get you know mop and vacuum and dust and get our job out of house that we could get out of house and take pictures um we'll do it it's the flooring is what was on clearance at lowe's you know um it was the best deal I wanted a cocktail bitch and the one I liked was that uh pier one and his twelve hundred dollars meg went to an antique store found this awesome antique cocktail bench from neiman marcus for two hundred fifty bucks I wanted the twelve hundred dollars but it was too much she found me one for a thousand bucks lest you know it's that kind of stuff a little bit of I ke a not a whole lot my my studio wants was like a like a never again trying to move I ke out that went down a rabbit trail next question uh michelle in the chat room would really like to know about safety concerns when working with this type of wood and having it overlapped and stuff like that there spent quite a chatter about that and with a beer in my hand and you gotta dance you want a song to all right so no safety concerns unless we have a ballerina with ballet slippers that when she hits her mark show off she goes right but dan there's that lip is an eighth of an inch it's not like three quarter inch supply it's you're gonna you're gonna have to be you have to trip over your own shadow kind of person to trip over that I have to be megan thank you for the camera yes kind of a two part question therefore you first is how long did it take you to find your style which is sort of this white seamless that I mean that came to be kind of a trademark for you and then what would you suggest to all of us I guess teo to sort of develop our own styles how would we proceed how good give some guidance okay when it comes to style I'd say it took a good decade for for a style style has to bubble up style has to just come up over time and you could go after it but it's style is just what you do my style is typically I would characterize it as clean simp people um negative space um color but I like black and white as well um but but if I go toe one word it's typically I want my work to be clean I want a very clean style I didn't go out saying okay I want to have a clean style I went out like I want where's my style what's my style but I don't know and it's grown over time where did I learn this I used to assist and uh build sets and do a little shooting and managed I did a whole bunch of things for j c penney's corporate studio in plano texas in the in the bowels of their corporate headquarters we shot in store sign ege direct marketing a little bit of the sunday inserts um way rarely shot catalog j c penny catalogue was like spread out to about twenty seven studios around the country um but you know you walk into a j c penney store and there's big posters on the wall we shot much of that kind of stuff right thiss was catalog clearance right here catalog clearance set that's where I learned the light a white I learned to drive the home depot get this tile board used to use plexi but this size plexi was costing this three hundred dollars a sheet and then someone like came in with this tile bored one day this is like eight bucks at that time eight bucks let's try it may I'm done finished eight dollars a sheet instead of plexi um and when I got my little studio space and I need to do something with it a couple hot shoe flashes and I had catalog clearance so if you really want to bust it down all of your cycle it's part of your style oh you mean my catalogue clearance but I do so yeah you learn you pick up something I picked that up from that one job I picked this up from what this one job uh sky michael schwartz first guy that I interned with michael schwartz out of atlanta um uh his editorial shooter he taught me how to knock the background down the sky down and stop and bring in a soft box oh that's how you do it and that kind of I take a little bit of michael schwartz I take some steve schaffer I take a guy out in san francisco now named mark anderson uh holly schwartz um I take mark seliger I take um any liebowitz I take mary ellen mark people who influenced me abadan abadan little abadan influences influences everything I do is derivative of other things I've seen and what I do is I am walking on shoulders of those who've gone before me all right and that over time has become my style so the only way to get your style is a continue your education pick this up pick that up pick this other little thing up and it's going to be put in your pot and you're going to cook it up and ten years from now you'll be able to look back and go that's my style and it just has to naturally just come to the top for you just one last thing david hobby wants to shout out from texas david hobby wants a shout out from texas he just shouted out from texas oh he shouted out from texas david javi what's up maestro vis brother um oh david all right anyway so uh I love david hobby david hobby umm I mean how the power of four double a batteries has changed to this industry with what david hobby is done with stroh pissed for double a batteries that's it little harsh you flash for double a batteries changed the industry changed people's lives or what he's doing with his block did he go out and say I'm going to start this big old block and get a four hundred billion people come into it you know what I like location lighting I have a ofsome tips and tricks I'm just going to do my thing you know some people came on board and some people started reading it some other people started reading it and he's just sincere and how he started it and that's how it's grown and then we see people in this industry who they got a year experience under their belt they just fell out of bed and bought a camera and they're trying to be the next sensation you know what go work in the field for ten fifteen years and then come share with us something you know go build your work first and that's hobby built his work he built his life and he could come to the table credibility and look what's happened and he didn't have to strive for it don't ever stride like you're going to strive your whole career but at some point just let just do your thing whether people pay attention to it or not just keep doing your thing keep doing your thing keep doing your thing keep doing your thing like I said I think I was on chase's or sometime uh when david hobby with dubai and I'm in atlanta going I want to go to dubai dubai was like my top three destinations I wanted in my life and he's in dubai and he's posting on his body ram into bionics I'm all jealous I'm getting jaded senate call I'm feeling bad for myself I'm getting down on myself and feel sorry for myself little that I know hobbies over there going hey if you could need another lighting guy bring zach in this there's this guy zacarias he does this workshop you need to bring him here next year hobbies talking about I didn't know that a couple of months later I get an email hey my name's mohammed I run this thing called gulf photo plus would you be interested yes it's a fastest reply anyone's ever seen to an e mail for me yet it did give me the dates I'm coming oh my gosh I can't believe it you never know who's talking about you and that means a client you'll get a phone call one day and you've been down on yourself for six months you get this phone call and it's a big job and they say yeah you know what we've been looking at your site for the last eight months it's and we finally have the right project for you but we've known about you for eight months a year and you wow really someone's been thinking about you someone's bookmark you someone kept your promo and stuck it to their wall in their cubicle going when I got a job for this person I'm calling you're sitting at home going no one's calling me but if you're doing your job and your marketing yourself and you put yourself out there people will know about you questions rabbit trail I think we're good I think we're good with question be good yeah alright move one here's what we're doing right now here's the plan crew everyone listening I'm gonna go through something real quick here on a photo shop I want to show you what I do to clean up this mess that we have going on in the white seamless it's going to be a quick zip zip zap zap if you will go to my blawg boom ba doop doo way bring up a browser all right we're going over to my blogged at za'darius dot com and if you will click on categories technique all right categories technique you start seeing these seamless posts all right next page seamless tutorial part one a little bit to the left that felt great uh seamless tutorial part one all this stuff on seamless is also documented on my block along with a video of how to do this so we're back here in light room and what I'm going to do is go ahead and let's sit in this two photoshopped it'll take a minute and we're gonna clean this up real quick if I did a good job of making sure that background is snapping the white to fifty five white um all around the edges I've kept them inside the edges of that um this is a seriously easy easy cleanup so what we're going to do here way are on a locked background layer if I pulled my layers up come on layers way go background layer all right it's just a background layer my background swatch over here is set toe white the background color is set too pure white I am going to get my eraser tools make it larger and I can come in and erase that out I can also grab the mark he grab a marquee around something like that hit the delete key and it's gone so that's gone and then we need to clean up this floor now one thing we can do with it is marquis tool all right I made a marquis now I'm gonna point my selection tool and I get this bounding box I couldn't drag that out now that may be a little too much but I'm just gonna go ahead and drag it out to their I'll probably do a crop on this and see this line right here that is from those two different tile boards this line right here only draw marquis around it see the change in reflection right there that is from the two different tile bored sometimes it bugs the crap out of me and I go in here and I smooth that out toe where it looks more natural other times and it doesn't bother me here it might bother me a bit I'll clean it in a second so we've got that cleaned up no I said I shot vertical on all of this let's say they're making a poster and they need a place to put text their name a logo and let's let's say that they're making an eleven by seventeen poster so it's eleven inches look up here on my crop area alright eleven inches no no seven eleven inches wide seventeen inches in height and we're going to three hundred d p I I pull out my bounding box my background swatches still white I pull out the composition that I want lips I don't want to rotate that I pull out the composition that I want I hit the return key I have a little bit of mess to deal with because I rotated that's alright racer tool we're teo racer tool racer tool done like that all right you want it to go vertical or you want a horizontal poster let's take our eleven by seventeen and ronit horizontal and let's give him some negative space to put some uh text and things like that with and there we go like that so I can take that I could take that shot on white and start to move it around now I could have somehow lake I composed my photo to where they are over here on the right half and then I gave negative space over here on the left half okay but look at all this negative space here imagine that is with the sensor in my camera I just threw half of my sensor away toe white pixels win I can add them later in postproduction so I can always go back to my full resin shot I want to fill the frame with the people as much as possible you follow in with me on that let's go back to one of our other shots from earlier in the day let's go back to one of these all right let's use this one you're gonna edit and photoshopped let that pull up this one might have been a good chop too all right so again with the clean up a racer tool my background swatches set toe white I come lips got into his uh cape they're clean that up that's gone now I actually screwed up right here around his cape it's not going to pure white down on the floor let me come in and take out the fan the fan is gone and this on the floor isn't pierre pierre pierre pure pure white watch this I want to pull my levels up I'm going to hold my option key down and you're going to see what's not going to pure white now I could simply take my levels and slide them until it goes but that's affecting the exposure on my overall shot right I don't need to do that I'm going to get the dodge tool out dodge it set toe highlights protect tones is turned off and I'm gonna have a pretty soft brush at a ten percent exposure and just come in here and just clean up right around there just to knock that the white now I want to make a seventeen by eleven poster out of the shot notice this is my sensor and I filled it up with reflection in him but I want ah lot of negative space for text I take my crop I pull it out to the edge and let go of my mouse I grabbed this bounding box I pull it out where I want my composition to be I hit return and about being about being about being there's my shot

Class Description

If you’re new to studio photography, or even if you’ve been doing indoor shoots for a while, studio lighting can be a real challenge. The sheer amount of gear required and the inherent complexity of the equipment mean that there are always lots of variables—and lots of ways to make mistakes!

This weekend-long course taught by renowned music, editorial and advertising photographer Zach Arias breaks down the technicalities of studio lighting into manageable chunks so you can get a handle on what you need to do in almost any studio situation.

Zach will cover a wide variety of topics, from how to build a studio to shutter and aperture settings to posing groups. By the end of this in-depth course, you’ll have the skills to tackle any type of indoor shoot, whether it’s in a huge warehouse or your spare bedroom.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Build your studio and buy the right gear for the right price.
  • Create and shoot on a white seamless backdrop.
  • Set your ISO, shutter speed and aperture.
  • Understand depth of field and shooting groups.
  • Do head shots with a beauty dish.
  • Use all sorts of flashes, including strobes and hot shoe flashes, as well as modifiers.
  • Handle multiple shoots at once.


Martin B.

Zack - you're the man inside all of the studio classes !!! I've seen a lot of teachers, which are doing studio classes, but you do this on a very lively manner. I've never seen sudio classes like you do ;-) At fist I like your kind of "Cheap Shots" ... you take great images with a kind of inexpensive gear - especially the one light stories. Most of the other photographers are teaching classes by using a lot of light - you can fix the same shots with only one light *thumbs up*. By my selfe i'm teaching "low budget" stuff, but many people are going the other way ... don't know why. Even the available light is the most powerfull light you can work with. Also my theory fits with your "one light" kind of take this shot. Many people should think about your style of photography and related back to the beginning of photography (Adams, Feininger, ...) ;-) Keep on teaching/living your kind of photography - it's worth it - this class is worth all the money ... and much more !!! Martin (

a Creativelive Student

I'm an alum of both the OneLight DVD and Zack's OneLight in-person class. I pre-purchased this course because I knew it would be amazing. I was a bit worried that there would be overlap from his other course offerings but was pleasantly surprised. I tell every photographer that I meet about Zack, his classes and the wealth of knowledge up for grabs on his blog. If you have never shot in a studio or if you are seasoned pro, I guarantee you'll get more than your money's worth out of this course. Zack's work pays his bills, not the equipment companies. Therefore, he can be up front about his likes and dislikes. Zack also doesn't screw around with people, he's the real deal and tells it like it is. Mark my word, buy this class and get the best ROI of anything else you'll buy this year. Zack has the natural gift of teaching. You'll quickly realize that it's not about the latest and greatest gear, it's about your client's needs and knowing how to find solutions with what you've got. Enjoy.


Excellent class and worth every single penny! I have always been a big fan of Zack both in regards to his quality of work and skill set and who he is as a person. You can watch all the Youtube video tutorials in the world and you will gain some good knowledge, however many are holding back some information they do not want you to know about. This class has taught me so much about lighting where I feel much more confident with the technical side and can focus more on the creative side. Well worth your investment!