Skip to main content

Shooting Headshots in Volume

Lesson 38 from: The Business of Professional Headshots

Gary Hughes

Shooting Headshots in Volume

Lesson 38 from: The Business of Professional Headshots

Gary Hughes

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

38. Shooting Headshots in Volume


Class Trailer

Class Overview


Getting Headshot Clients


Headshot Pricing Models for Individuals


Headshot Pricing Models for Groups and Companies


Payment and Delivery for Groups


Six Styles of Business Headshots


Headshot Lighting Gear


Posing Basics for Headshots


Basic Standing Pose for Headshots


Basic Seated Pose for Headshots


Head Position for Headshots


Expression Sells the Image


One-Light High Key Headshot with Male Model


One-Light High Key Headshot with Female Model


Two-Light High Key Headshot with Male Model


Two-Light High Key Headshot with Female Model


Two-Light Standing Pose Headshot with Male Model


Two-Light Standing Pose Headshot with Female Model


One Light Low Key Headshot with Male Model


Two Light Low Key Headshot with Female Model


General Q&A


Constant Light: Low Key Classic Headshot with Male Model


Constant Light: Low Key Classic Headshot with Female Model


Constant Light: Standing Pose Headshot with Male Model


Constant Light: Standing Pose Headshot with Female Model


Setting up the Background for Extraction Shoot


Shooting for Extraction Headshot with Male Model


Shooting for Extraction Headshot with Female Model


Shooting Low Key Modern Headshots for Extraction


Basic Headshot Facial Retouching Techniques


Basic Headshot Eye Retouching Techniques


Basic Headshot Retouching Techniques: Dodge and Burn


Basic Headshot Retouching Q&A


Extracting a Single Subject


Creating a Headshot Composite


F-Type Headshot Lighting: Equipment and Principle


F-Type Headshot Lighting: Execution


Shooting Headshots in Volume


Lesson Info

Shooting Headshots in Volume

Now I wanna do something super fun. Are you ready to do it? You ready class? Since you guys are here, and you've spent the last two days with me. I would like all of you to be able to leave with a headshot. How does that sound? So put your pads and papers, and down on your sheets, and I want you guys to line up right here. We're gonna run you through the machine like ground beef. Oh see, all the ladies are immediately like going hands in their hair. Alright, cool. Alright, Lana your brave let's go first. So I'm gonna show you exactly how I would run through eight or so people in a row. How ya doing? Good how are you? You havin' a good time the last couple of days? Have you learned a ton? Do people tell you a lot that they love your hair? Like the number one compliment you get. I appreciate it. Alright, bring your knees this way for me Lana, I want you to turn your head this way, tilt a little bit, bring your chin down, perfect here we go. Let's show how great that hair looks on...

camera. One, and two. You gotta camera ready smile, bring your knees around this way. Okay, come back, turn your head, tilt a little, here we go. One, and two, tilt this way for me ... ya, perfect. And lean into me just a little more, there ya go, bring that chin down just a touch, one and two. Okay cool, walk out this way, do watch your step. Come on down. Nice to meet you sir, what's your name? Alex. Alex, pleasure, I'm Gary. Good to see ya man, how's it going? Now I just want ya to bring your knees out for me, perfect. Alright, put those hands right here, sit up nice and tall, learn forward this way just a little bit, bring your body this way just a little. There ya go, ready Alex? Okay, I want you to show me how much you like me. Ready one and two. Alright, give me an angry one. I love that, perfect man. Remember that, what I told you about the after-glow of a good laugh is usually the best shot. This is going to come right up. Bring your knees this way for me, cool, alright. A little of center that way, lean into me, tilt your head a little, chin this way, chin down, turn your head. Chin up just a touch, eyes to me. Ready, Alex here we go, one and two. Relax that face a little bit, take a deep breath. (deep breathing) Alright, good and I want you to clench your butt cheeks as hard as you can. (crowd laughs) There ya go, alright, piece of cake. Thanks Alex, next please. Sheldon come on down man, it's good to see you. How are ya? Good, how are you? Good, I want you to turn your knees this way, cool. Come back to me just a little bit, put those hands right here on the top of your thighs for me if you would. Come back just a little more this way, like to twist around. There ya go. Chin up nice and tall, I want you to lean this way, turn your upper body towards me like so, tilt your head a little bit, bring your chin down, relax those shoulders, bring the hands up a little higher, good. Here we go, ready Sheldon, you are now famous, boom. Tilt your head, alright. I want to, let see, move this a little bit, bring your knees towards me just a touch, this way, this way. Twist, not scoot. There ya go, this way, ah you got it. Alright, cool man ya diggin' it. Chin down a little bit, alright, cool. That was harder than it should've been right? You and I just had this thing the last couple of days. I seen ya lookin' at me. Alright, tilt your chin a little bit, perfect, good. Alright, bring your feed the other way for me, perfect. Come back just a little bit, nope, stay there do not move the stool just twist. Turn, there ya go, a little more turning. I should say turn, it's my fault. (laughing) I'm a bad communicator sometimes. Tilt your head, chin down, turn your head a little bit this way. Here we go, excellent, ready, one, two, three, one and two. Sheldon, you've been beautiful. Thank you. Come on this way, go say hi to Kevin he'll help you pick out your image, no problem. Okay, Cliff come on down, how's it goin'? Awesome. Alright, you know the drill, you just watched these guys do it. Can you do it without me givin' ya any instruction? Okay turn this way a little bit for me, perfect. Here we go man, turn your head just a little bit, one two three, one, tilt a little, lean into me a touch. You are one broad-shouldered dude man, I'll tell ya. Perfect, oh he's gonna be a tough nut to crack, that's okay. (crowd laughs) Do you know he was on Bill Nye the Science Guy, did ya know that? (camera click) Ya he was, he was the big sweaty guy. (laughter) That's true, it's a true story I didn't make that up. Turn around this way just a little bit, perfect, keep going, keep goin, there, alright, and just lean this way for me, turn that head, tilt a little, bring that chin down. Here we go, one, two, three, one and good. And now do one for your homies, there ya go, give me angry, give me serious, okay perfect Cliff you've been amazing thank you, proceed on out. Meghan, come one down. Did you now I have a light stand names Meghan. Really? Is that not awesome? (laughter) Put your hands right here in your lap, that's perfect. Lean into me this way, tilt your head a little bit. Do you have a side of your face you prefer? No. Okay, turn your head this way, there perfect that's why. (giggles) Either, why would like one over the other? Bring your chin down just a little there, that's great. One and tilt a little more that way, there ya go, two. Excellent, let's bring your feet around the other way, and back to me just a little a bit, tilt your head this way, turn your head, little less tilt, that's perfect, there. Awesome, one and two, and two, and one more because I blinked. Okay, perfect Meghan you've been wonderful, go out this way. You're all set. Next, hi how ya doin'? Hi, good. Good to see ya, I'm Gary what's your name. Cindy. Cindy, pleasure. Nice to meet you. This is the first time I've seen you ever. Right. Bring your knees around this way, cool, sit up nice and tall. Bring those hands back a little bit, and I want you to lean this way, lean a little bit more, tilt your head just a touch, cool, there ya go. Alright, lean into me a little bit more, feels like a lot of lean, but it looks sexy as hell okay. Looks really good, one, two, and three. Alright now relax, relax the face, give me a small smile that just touches the corners of your mouth, cause I wanna make sure your eyes look, you have beautiful eyes and I wanna make sure they look really good. Cool, alright, now bring your feet around this way for me, cool, come back to me just a little bit. Lean a little back that way. There ya go, okay perfect, turn your head, relax your shoulders, that's very important, perfect, here we go. Ready, you can give me a big smile if you want. Pretend I have a big bag of money for you. That doesn't make you happy? (laughter) You did great, thanks, next please. Alright is that everybody? Oh, get in there, get it girl. This is for the chat rooms. (laughter) They just requested this. Alright, nice to meet you, I'm Gary. Hi Gary, nice to meet you. It's a pleasure, do you have a side of your face you prefer? This side. I'm gonna pretend you told me your name is Kenna, which is what people do when they introduce themselves to each other, they give each other their names. Did I not say that? No, you didn't. What did I say, just nice to meet you? (laughter) I'm sure it's really nice to meet me. It's been a long couple of days, mine name is Kenna. Hi Kenna, nice to meet you for the very first time ever. Sit up nice and tall, and your gonna lean into me this way, good, perfect, just like that. You have really cool hair, do people tell you that a lot? They do. Good, what about, you know you have a really unusual eye color? I blink a lot. Do you know your eye color is like less than two percent of the population? It's true. Ya, I did know that. Alright bring your knees around this way for me, good. Turn you head this way a little bit, ya right there. Alright, now I want you to give me sexy, good turn your head this way a bit. (laughter) Okay, alright, you were doing it already, that's the secret. One more, perfect, okay you're all set. Kenna, lovely to meet you. Fantastic, now I have a new shot for Facebook. Oh well, we'll see. Beautiful, alright, I like the second one, seven five nine seven, put a mustache on that one for Kenna in photoshop. Okay, sorry I shoulda warned you I was comin' out. Now, when I say it's exhausting to do that three hundred times in a row, it is exhausting to do that, it really really is. It takes a lot of the blarney You gotta really turn up to 11, however if you really want a bunch of pictures looking morose like Cliff over here then you can do that however you want. That's how I do it, but at the same time what really happens is when you've got a line of people coming, people are standing in line and watching me be so stupid with everybody that they sort of like, what's he gonna do for me. What's he gonna say to me. And it becomes this thing where by the time I get to the fifth or sixth person they're really excited about what dumb thing is gonna come out of my mouth you know. So it becomes a really really fun thing, you want it to be a good time. Somebody to leave feeling like, you know that feeling that if you go through a line at the theme park and you ride a really short but really cool ride and then you get off that's kind of what I want to go for, it's totally not that but I want it to sort of have that feeling a little bit. Because people are so sometimes uncomfortable especially in these situation they're getting a photograph most of the time because they kind of have to. A lot of these companies they have a picture that they want for every single employee on their email address on their email signature or on their file or if they're in support like it comes up in all their memos and things like that so you actually kinda have to have it, but I want them to like it, I want them to be surprised. So I want it to be so quick and so weird that they leave like not knowing quite what happened and then they go see the photo and then they really like it you know. And then it's pretty cool that we can say honestly that we've got a good mix of people and what they look like. In this group all different colors, all different heights, and everybody got a headshot that is way better than what you're normally going to get in that situation. Is that pretty cool. And you guys can all have those by the way. Not you guys, but you guys can all have them. Is that cool. Alright cool. I think we're getting pretty close to showing everything I can show about this so I'd love to take some questions. Alright well we have a bunch of questions keep them coming and you guys grab a mic if you guys have a question in the audience. Alright so one question that had come in earlier was if you can use this set up with speed lights, can speed lights be used-- You absolutely can. The biggest problem is gonna be if you're shooting in volume it's gonna be running out of battery power. However you don't have to use this setup for just volume this setup can look really great just having a one on one portrait session even if you're gonna do it for 30 minutes or an hour. So I actually have used this with a speed light. It's not gonna get to as quite as powerful but it comes across pretty darn near the same things. So yes you can do this with speed lights. The biggest problem you're gonna find is to find an octobox that you can stick a speed light to and then hang it upside down. So that will probably be your biggest barrier there. But you can totally do it with speed lights. Now that you mention that octobox could we just could you just point out what some of the sizes are of the items that we have, that we're using and the tripod. And it's all on the gear list that you can get just for signing up to view the course but this is a, and the tripod you said. Yes. This isn't my tripod this is one that creative live provided for me but I'm sure I can find the model number somewhere. And the pistol grip. Yeah I know it's all Man Frodo stuff, Man Frodo 222, this is a Paul C Buff 86 inches, it's called a PLM it's a parabolic umbrella basically and there are a couple of different types on the inside. There's like the soft silver which is the one I use. And then there's a super silver which is a little punchier. The soft silver is good because it gives you a softer light and for this set up I really want it. You might go a little punchier if that's your style but I use the soft silver and this is sold separately, this is the diffuser cover for that same umbrella. You know how you go on Amazon and it goes people who bought this also bought this, you'll have that same thing on the website if that's where you buy it from. And then this is a 47 inch octobox from Paul C Buff that is fitted to attach for an alien B which is a Paul C Buff product I think. And then down here you have a three by four suite light system super silver stand up reflector and then another just alien B with the aluminum cone that comes with it on the background and then the five by seven pop up background and I think the company is pro master but there are tons of companies that make those you can get them from anywhere. Fantastic, anyone in here. Alright we'll keep going wit the folks at home. Let's see. Can you use a speed light, we already talked about that. With that large light would you be able to shoot multiple people in this setup. Absolutely yeah. In this same setup you'd need a bigger background to do it this way and you would probably need to put a little more distance between you and the subject then this cause as you can see every shot the head's almost cut off, in almost every shot. I'm shooting for the crop here so you would probably need to use maybe a wider lens and back up a little bit and have a bigger background but yeah you could use this for multiple people. You're gonna find that it's gonna be a very light source for more than just this cause I use this for stuff all the time it's actually really good for any volume photography. I've done this for school portraits before and I've gotta tell you when I did this lighting set up for school pictures and I shot a bunch of kids in a row. You know school picture day. I used this and I got the highest sales that I've ever had from a school because they liked the way that it looked so much it's really kind of a cool thing. So I'm wondering Gary I think this is a great suggestion from Old Red Eye who was saying would it be possible to look at one of the images and for you to point out actually against the image which light was affecting what, does that make sense. Maybe not the one of me, but. Yeah there's a great image right on the screen that we can use. Alright let's do this, can you guys get me if I move over to the screen or should I just stay here and point at it. Okay so what you have here, so remember we talked about this when you have the unusual catch light in the eye. Cause right there forever if you ever use this picture Kenna I'm gonna be with you in the photo right in the pupil, okay. So what you have here, so you can see especially on this monitor which is a little bright but it's a good representation. You have a specular highlight here, here and here. And that's all coming from that light up there. So you have a very flat light and you have very, it hides a lot, it's very very flattering for people. But you have a nice specular highlight from that 47 inch octobox here, here and here. And if you look behind in the background you can see a gradient which is basically just taking that black and causing the separation from the hair and the outline of the person on the background. So you have the main fill light which is basically just a big flat light, you have that accent light going boom boom boom, you have the reflector bringing light back into the eyes, not that Kenna needs it with those eyes, you look pretty good. And then you have the light on the background causing the gradient, turning that black background into a nice gray that fades off into black creating a natural vignette. Cool, yeah. No that was really great, really helpful for the folks at home. And once again question had come in from M Heath the space between he person and the chair and the background I think we determined that was maybe like 10 feet or so. Looks like about in this setup about 10 feet, you could make it longer if you want. Okay. The thing is i use it at this distance cause this is a very small background. If you have a full size seamless paper nine foot, 12 foot or whatever you could put as much distance as you want all that's gonna matter is how it looks when it turns out. So you can put a lot more distance between the background, you just need a much bigger background. If you go too much further away with this you start to shoot off the edges and then it becomes sort of difficult to make it easy for yourself in post processing. But Gary I'm wondering if you have sort of any final words for us as we kind of recap the entire class and what we set out to do from the beginning. I will give a speech as long as you guys all hum the battle hymn of the republic while I talk. (humming) I'm just kidding you don't really have to do that. I had an absolutely awesome time, especially you guys have really sat through a lot and I know that some of it's been a fire hose of information but I'm gonna give you the things that I want you to take home the most. Is that one adding business head shots to your brand or your business, if you're not already doing them, can be a really great and rewarding way to bring in some extra income and to make your life a little bit better. The point isn't to have more work for the sake of having more work. In reality the ideal is to shoot less and make more money. Isn't that right. If I as a wedding photographer could shoot one wedding a year for $300,000 I would have the rest of the year off and it would be incredible. But in reality we can't all have a business model like that I don't know anybody that does, so you want to look at how much money you want to make, break that down and make a plan. And if this can be a part of your business, that would be great. The other thing I want to encourage you to do is to challenge yourself creatively, because it can be really hard to find inspiration when you're shooting something like this. Anything in mass the more you do it. Don't let the job you've chosen to do because you love it take the joy out of your life because you've chosen to do it for a living. That's a very very tight rope to walk sometimes. Draw those lines in your life to where you're gonna say this is gonna be my work time, this is gonna be my personal time, and this is how my work time is gonna make my personal time better and that's absolutely the guiding principle of my entire life. I want to be a photographer, I want to be a great photographer, I want to be inspired, I want to be creative, ever since I was a little kid I've had that itch in the back of my brain to just make something, you ever feel like that as a kid you just wanted to make something. You were making robots out of popsicle sticks or making hats out of aluminum foil and you just wanted to make something. And this job is cool because I get to make stuff all the time and not only that but with this and other areas of my business you get to be kind of a visual historian you get to shoot things that are never going to be able to be shot again. And that's a really cool responsibility, especially in like the weddings, portraits, babies, my god we have such a responsibility, and we can all think of stories of things that we've shot for people that aren't around anymore, and we have those people in our lives and we cherish the photos and the albums and things that we have so even something that seems as mundane as just shooting business head shots can be something that means a lot later on and you should take every single job with that much seriousness when you do it. And so find that balance, the number one thing you're ever gonna learn in your entire life that I've ever learned is I have to learn to balance things. Too much of anything one way or another can be a really really upsetting to your life. So learn to balance your work and your family, learn to chase money and make it, but don't make it a priority because it's a means to an end and this could be a great way for you to do that so I really encourage you guys to take some of this, to use it to go make money, and spend time with your families, that would be awesome.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

6 Styles of Headshots
Gear List

Ratings and Reviews

Melville McLean

Gary Hughes is possibly the best teacher I have seen here and that is a very high compliment. His business analysis is simple and to the point. His set ups and techniques are simple and straight forward, no easy task in itself. His interactions with his models/clients are finely developed and reduced into the fewest but most important key exchanges. He teaches by example how to interact and direct. If you are a high volume photography with brief time per sitter, you might especially appreciate his tips. It is extraordinarily difficult to keep a tight, well structured class going live for so long at a time. His intelligence, wit and personality are all in his favor but it is the content itself that is most impressive. I am not a portrait photographer but I have 30 years of commercial studio experience. He knows what is most important, leaves out the rest and has organized the material in anticipation of most difficulties that arise so that it rests in a seamless, smooth, coherent learning experience. All of his practical advice is excellent. Just understand that his work is about doing a relatively large number of shots in the most efficient way rather than a lot of time spent on a few clients for a completely different format [presentation like very large prints. In fact he is especially pragmatic. He emphasizes that you do not have to own the most expensive equipment but you absolutely do have to know how to use the equipment that you already have. And I am telling you this as someone he makes fun of in his course with fancy cameras and Profoto lighting gear. He is an advocate of all thought out approaches as well as relying on skills and knowledge. You will understand how and why to make all of his key, conventional light and posing set ups. He makes everything sound simple and doable -- and with his help -- it is. What you have to appreciate is that it is up to each individual to acquire the specialized skills to make our work compelling enough to be competitive. The unspoken truth that we all face is that talent plays a key role as well and that it takes time to become every accomplished. But I have also seen concentration, commitment and hard work result in developing innate talents that blossom in very successful careers. Mr Hughes reduces every step into the clearest, most essential components. He is self effacing both as a photographer and post process retoucher but he is very good indeed and does not waste time overdoing images that cannot benefit from a larger format presentation. Everything is appropriate and practical. He has already removed everything that does not matter for his purposes for us that would only interfere with the concise, clarity of his presentation.


I am so glad that I had the opportunity to watch this course. It has not only provided valuable lighting set-ups, but also great basics for posing.!. The Photoshop extraction technique Gary demonstrated was icing on the cake. Gary did a great job teaching and I greatly admired the technique in which he taught. Thanks for a great class!


This was an excellent class! The class covered so much information and great tips and ideas. Gary is funny and has an easy going approach, which makes the class that much more enjoyable. As a struggling pet photographer, I have been trying to find something to supplement my business with that does not involve children/babies, or shooting weddings again and headshots seemed to be a great option. After watching this class, I feel confident building up a headshot component to my business. Definitely recommend this class!

Student Work