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Two Light Low Key Headshot with Female Model

Lesson 20 from: The Business of Professional Headshots

Gary Hughes

Two Light Low Key Headshot with Female Model

Lesson 20 from: The Business of Professional Headshots

Gary Hughes

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Lesson Info

20. Two Light Low Key Headshot with Female Model

Next Lesson: General Q&A


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

Two Light Low Key Headshot with Female Model

What I'm gonna do is I'm gonna change my main light source and I'm going to turn this light into a hair light. This is another easy way to get good separation of your subject from the background. So I want to just show you multiple ways to do the same thing. So in order to do this, you can either put a regular light stand behind the background and kinda have it poke out from behind and angled down, or you can use a boom stand. Okay, cool. Okay. Cool. Oh my God. That's heavy. Holy crap. (gasping) Need to go back to the gym. Alright, here we go. Now, it's important that you don't angle this so that it's going into your lens. You're gonna get pretty wicked lens flare. But what a hair light can do, which is really cool, again, we're not trying to create these really hot highlights. The hair light is so misused for so many years because people put a hair light and they're trying to like create a halo on the head of the person. You're trying to create definition in the hair. You're not tryin...

g to create a halo in something like this. So let's do a little low-key classic, 'cause if you only have two lights, this would be a really good option. One would be to use this guy on the floor, light in the background, and the other would be to use this guy as a hair light. Alright. Again, we're gonna feather it. Perfect. Okay. So, Lacy, can you bring my camera case over here for me real quick, please? Alright, and I need that shoot-through umbrella as well if that's around. Perfect. I want to make this not a commercial for all the stuff that I like to use but this is my baby. This is the Pelican 1510. I think it's waterproof and can take a bullet. But I use it for just about everything that you could think of as well as it also works as like an apple box when I need to get high above my client. I use this stuff all the time just for that same purpose. Cool. Anybody have a quarter? Screwdriver? Perfect. Okay. So this is a little do-dad that you can pick up just about anywhere that enables you to clip a Speedlight onto the top of a light stand. [Woman In Audience] (mumbling) Yeah. Just hand me that. Please. Thank you. Remember when I said earlier I always keep a tool kit? Just tighten that up. Cool. And that shoot-through umbrella, and then I'll be good. So you wanted to see the difference what the shoot-through umbrella would do? Now you get to see it. What you would do if, Gary, if you did not have a boom arm? I would take the light stand, just a straight up light stand, and I would put it behind the background and peek it out just at that same angle from above over the background for the same thing. Just as effective. But since, in this scenario, we've been using a boom stand a lot, might as well just use it. Because I would have a tendency to sort of make things fall over. I could be the Chevy Chase of photography. Not because I'm funny, just because I trip over everything. Alright. [Woman In Audience] But you're funny. (laughing) Aw, shucks. Alright, cool. Let's go ahead and have, we'll get you, Charni, out here. You ready? I feel like I've been neglecting you. Alright, you can have a seat right on the stool for me. Cool. Perfect. Now, we're gonna build this very much the same way that we built some of the other images. And let's go ahead and take this out for right now. Get too complicated with it. Adjusted the same way, I'm gonna feather this just like I feathered the soft box. These things are infinitely less expensive than most of your light sources, but at the same time, they are also fragile. And they're a little less easy to control. Alright. So let's take a look at that. Yeah, you don't need the boom stand. I bought one, like, a year-and-a-half ago, and I just, you know, I just love it. But they can be pretty dangerous to take on location so you might consider other alternatives because they can tip over, and then... Well, just make sure your liability insurance is paid up. Okay. Good. Now I wanted to see, I'll shoot this image with just enough light from my main light. This isn't what I'm gonna end up with, but I want you to see where the hair light is falling. See what I mean? Once I amp up this main light to a correct exposure that you will hardly notice the hair light, but it will be there separating the shoulders from the background, separating the hair from the background, right? Everybody with me on that? It's a super easy way, especially in a head shot. If you're doing a full-length shot, you really want separation light all the way around. You need a lot more lights and a lot more power to do that. But in this situation since we're just shooting a head shot, you typically just need to separate the head and shoulders from the background, which is a perfect light source for that. So I'm gonna take my light source B, which is now my main light, my umbrella, and I'll up that power, do another test. (camera clicking) And then, yup, okay. We're there. And I'm going to up my ISO to about 160. (camera clicking) Okay. There you go. Okay. That last one has it. Now, again, I'm gonna go close. When you're shooting with a shoot-through umbrella, because of the way that the flash sits a little higher than center, a good rule of thumb is you take the tip of the umbrella, like this, and you want that at about the same height as the corner of the eye. Okay, that's and still about arm's length away, if that makes any sense to you. That's sort of my rule of thumb. Also, you can control the softness of the shoot-through umbrella. The closer that this is to the umbrella, the harder the light's gonna be, the further away you're gonna be able to adjust the hardness and softness of the light just by doing that, okay? So I keep it at kind of a decent distance, 'cause I want the light still to be soft. A little higher. Good. Can everybody see everything? Alright, and now we're gonna bring in our fill. Alright, that looks perfect. Alright, can you bring your feet over this way just a little bit? That looks great. Okay. Alright. Classic, low-key. Here we go. Alright, now I want you to turn your nose into the light like that. Good. A little more. Good. Eyes to me. Tilt your head this way just a touch. Lean into me a little. Right there. Okay, Charni, you got it. Let's see what we got. (camera clicking) Boom. Okay. So now we've got really good open light with fill, and you got plenty of definition that separates the head and the shoulders from the background. There you go. We're still using speed lights. I just wanna point that out, okay? We haven't actually brought in any big guns yet whatsoever, and at no point have we used more than two lights. So there's no way that you can say that you can't do it. Because it's super, super easy to do. Okay, so let's do, well, see that hair a little hot for me on the top of the head, so I'm gonna bring down the hair light just to a little more manageable level. Alright. You look great. You look marvelous. A little more room off the shoulder. (camera clicking) Boom. Okay, cool. There we go. Now that is gonna do it. That is the money maker. You did an awesome job. That's perfect, okay. Any questions about that? Go for it. The Speedlight, or the system that you have, that you're using, does it only work for the 600 series? If you have Canon Speedlights, this can control the 600 series that have the radio built in. However, and if I'm not mistaken, if you're using one of the Speedlights as your controller, they still can control the older lights that use the infrared system. You can actually do both at the same time, which is pretty awesome, so it's not like you have to junk your 580s, but those do need line-of-sight to work. So that's important to remember. You can do this same setup. You don't have to have these. If you've got Phottix or Vivitars or Nikons. I could be using Nikons right now. It doesn't matter. All you need is the lights and any kind of radio trigger that you like and prefer to work with. You really don't have to have these exact Speedlights. You can buy the knockoff ones from, I think they make them in China, that actually are pretty much identical to the Canon ones that are half the price. The thing is, the reason I use equipment from the particular brand of camera that I use, which is Canon... And I have no preference. I don't ever wanna get into one of those conversations, those Nikon vs. Canon conversations with people. Those people are very angry inside. Because all the cameras are so good nowadays, you could almost do this, if you had constant lights, you could do this with an iPhone pretty much. I mean, it's crazy how good the technology is. It's not about the technology, as I say over and over and over again. It's really, the reason I use the Canon stuff is because I am a member of Canon Professional Services and Nikon has a Professional Services where Canon will give you faster service, better stuff, blah, blah, blah, but it is only their equipment. And so you get like money off the repairs and all that stuff. Nikon has an equivalent. I don't know if Sony does or not. I have no idea. But that's why I use Canon lenses, Canon equipment. I have nothing against any of the third-party brands at all. There's plenty of great equipment out there from all the different manufacturers. In this same setup, I will do the exact same thing. I will show you. We're gonna do both sides. Both head tilts and then you're out the door. Okay, you ready? Okay, so this way just a little bit. Turn your head for me. Tilt a little. Back straight and leaning in. I want you to bring your hands a little higher up. There you go. You see what I do, is it creates the posture and separates the elbows a little bit from the body. Turn just a touch. Eyes to me. Okay. I've been wanting to ask you. What's your favorite breakfast cereal? Ooh. Froot Loops. See? She likes breakfast. Everybody has an opinion on breakfast cereal. It's a true story. Okay, perfect. Now I'm gonna add a little bit of light underneath. Hey, I'm gonna wanna use you again, Megan. You're so good I feel like I've overused you. And I need to get a little reflection underneath. Are you really willing to help me out? I'm getting a little bit of hard shadows. There you go. Just so. Thank you. You really are terrific. Alright. Perfect, here we go. Ready? And one. (camera clicking) I want you to relax the jaw a little bit. A little bit of space between the lips. Turn this way. (camera clicking) Good. And two. (camera clicking) Tilt your head this way for me. Good. And turn your head. There you go. Perfect. One. (camera clicking) And two. (camera clicking) That is perfect. Now bring your feet around this way for me. Good. Come back to me just a little bit. Good. I want you to tilt this way with your head. Bring your chin down. Turn your head this way. You see like the control you have so easily over the posing? It's unbelievable. Tilt your head this way. There you go. Perfect. One. (camera clicking) And two. Awesome. (camera clicking) And now go this way a little. And three. (camera clicking) And one more. Turn your nose this way just a little bit into that light. Yeah, that's perfect. (camera clicking) There you go. Bang. Okay, piece of cake. I got the hair light. I got the separation. Can we pull those up a little bit? Yeah. We got straight up and down, we got tilted, and we got in the other direction. So what it all depends on, the intent of the photograph, and then what you're gonna use the images for. Remember that it works for men too. Let me do that one quick demonstration. Charni, thank you so much. Let me get Oscar out here. You can keep the tie gone. It's alright with me. I think you look smashing. You see how the hair light is there and it's separating, but it's not drawing attention to itself? Remember that everything you bring into an image that you have to be responsible for what happens to it once you do, so a hair light can get out of control. Alright, perfect. So let's do this. Oscar, I want you to turn your feet into that light for me. I'll feather this a little bit more. There you go. Megan, thank you. Everybody should really thank Megan for making this whole class possible today. Alright, I want you to put your weight onto your other butt cheek. There you go. That's what I'm talking about. Lean into me this way a little bit. Tilt just so. Turn your head into the light just like that. There you go. Okay, so let's just do a test here. Turn your head this way just a little bit. Okay, now this is gonna be that traditional, far shoulder masculine pose, right? And that looks great. The hair light. The line around it. Now I want you to tilt your head to that shoulder. Aw, sad Oscar. (laughing) Okay, so let's pull those last two up side-by-side if we can. Alright. I think that's good. Oscar, I'm good. Thanks very much. And let's get those last two up here, and I think that's all I'm gonna need to shoot for right this second. Okay. Let's look at this, you guys. You can sit down now. Thank you, Megan. Oh, I keep forgetting. I'm gonna buy you a drink later. I promise. Okay, I know that we can get away with this with women, but what is the feeling? How do you feel differently about these two images? It's a completely different feeling. It's something that I wouldn't do a lot. If the angle is right and if the mood is right and if the way you've put the shot together really does work with that particular setup, but it almost never works. It's almost never a good thing in this particular setting. In corporate, professional business, see corporate business head shots. Remember that the tilting to that camera shoulder is gonna be the go-to for men, especially. Women can do both. And as in all things, women are way better than men. They can do more things.

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