Foundations of a Working Photographer

Lesson 15/25 - Know Your Light: Headshots


Foundations of a Working Photographer


Lesson Info

Know Your Light: Headshots

Okay, I want to shoot some more pictures I'm gonna use a strip bank I'm going to use the octu bank the big big mama the westcott seven foot doctor bank um and we have ah samara uh who's our next subject so let's do this come on up and um uh just have a seat on this apple box but actually before you sit down on that let me have you and I'm at the point right now in my day where I'm not quite sure what I'm doing next I'm just trying to figure it out all right? Just like let's shoot some pictures okay, so what I want to have you do is you're going to be just kind of sitting here hanging out all right? And I'm gonna start no, I'll start here get down get this pure white and then we'll go um you're going to be kind of hanging out now I've got to get uh my light set my camera I get my head around stuff like that why don't you have a seat? We are going to hand you a microphone and you're an actress so so it's a mix of being other people in a nervous about being myself oh, is that what that is...

? Yeah wow, what if that's what I am is a photographer? Will you have a seat here um and s oh you're an actress here in seattle right what kind of you like dramas? Theater e I do a lot of stage work I do a lot of classical work shakespeare oklahoma and then I do film and uh, voice but that doesn't really have much to do with meeting my picture taken right but I mean as ah voice talent you still have to be maybe you know do you have an agent for that kind of stuff so they usually have a website? Yeah here's your picture and these you know your voice talent you do do you do accents are uh, funny voices and stuff like that or do you just kind of I do both character voices as well as just straight commercial voices okay, so if you need a new bmw please come down to wherever wherever yeah awesome so you uh you need head shots you're kind of thing um there other specific kind of like pictures you need for what you do? I think anything where especially, you know, promoting yourself it's good to have traditional head shots but it's also nice just to have a variety of shots of yourself looking different we're looking in different styles and different ways which just helps sell you too clients as I can sell this thing and I can also sell this thing excellent right? So that takes us back to head shots there's three basic kind of head shots there's thie commercial head shot all the cameras air over here now so I thought okay, so there's the commercial head shot which is the aiken sell your stuff head shot right um I can sell this I can sell that on and that's usually like really evenly lit smiling happy nice bright eyes then there's the film head shot ah which is now serious and the bus is about to explode I'll save the day right it's a more serious kind of head shot then there's the theatrical head shot and what I find in my market is thie on lee black and white head shots left in the market are a theater head shots and in this market that's not true anymore and it's not true anymore in l a it's all color now pretty much yeah in new york you're seeing a lot of color. Headshots is yeah. And in atlanta it's all commercial in fillmore all color theater is the only one that's kind of still hold out and they still like black and white. And theater is still kind of dramatic unless you're specifically comedy theater than sometimes those air kind of a smiley but they're a little more serious of ah expression and then, um the theater head shots contempt ycl e b a bit more dramatic in the lighting not like super like oh dramatic but they're gonna be a little more shadow there could be a little more darkness that could be a little darker and the commercial ones are like it's a sunny day I'm happy to sell your toothpaste, right? So, um cool. So you hang off kind of there and I think I'm going to get my hundred millimeter lens, which I probably left over here somewhere. How long have you been in seattle? I've been here, I think about eight or nine years now. Yeah. Where you from? Originally? I grew up in the san francisco bay area. Ah, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful area that grow up in expensive, expensive arita living. My dad was born in south san francisco. Um, just underneath the it's. Not hard. We get thrown around. Um he was born under the, you know, industrial city of the world of what? It says it there on the hill, um and then grew up most of his life in susanville um heading towards tile. And I was born over the mountain and reno and I was born in the napa valley, so yeah, it was also too bad I love only were pretty there. Yeah, how long you been here in seattle? I think eight, nine years, something like you like it and to love me, I love seattle like banter, banter, banter bandit ask questions just talk you're just getting to know your subject just ask questions and from south central san francisco I go well that's a point my dad's from san francisco it doesn't have to all the questions and I'm just asking asking asking um so as I'm sitting here trying to think through my shot um I was going to use a strip here and I'm going to go ahead and let the background go white for a few shots and then I want to kill that so what I'm going to do is just pull this in kind of close to you all right? Let's go ahead and get rid of that we don't need that any longer thank you sir. Um, up up, up, up, up, up, up now the strip is has a grid on it and what I'm going to be able to do with this I have background lights going on on the background so that's going to pop the white she has a light colored sweater on so I don't need of its finest perfect um it's a pure white background with a fairly light colored um sweater on I don't want that sweater to get overexposed and bleed into the background, so I have to make sure that my exposure here from this light is not goingto overexpose uh that shoulder kind of thing this is going to be more of a dramatic kind of lighting because it's off to the side as that goes more off to the side I have to anticipate mohr shadows showing up here on this side of her face and what you the viewer and you guys in the class what I'm trying to get through to you is understanding your light understanding your equipment uh I'm gonna bounce from the strip with a grid in it to the octo bank and the octo bank is massive it's this huge like its window light on a stick kind of thing it's not going to get really dramatic on the in fact the way I'm going to use it it's there's not gonna be any drama kind of thing so I as the working photographer you know your lights you know your stuff you know that as I bring this small little light source off to the side I get more shadows so as I get more shadows it gets more dramatic as it gets more dramatic it might take it away from the commercial headshot assignment in front of me. All right? But here's the thing I have a subject sitting in front of me she has a specific need but let's say I just got a new box or I have an idea I have a client coming in next week that has a different assignment and I want to know what this box looks like I will test it on the subject in front of me today and these pictures may not be for this subject this client they're going toe just be a test for the next client but I have someone in front of it so we're just kind of see what's that gonna look like right um so I always let my subject know what I'm doing I let him know where they need to be sitting I let him know where they need to be looking um and I let him know hey I'm just getting my lights set up I'm getting my cameras together you just hang out right here always give lots of good direction even if you're off I'm off over there looking for my lens I'm trying to think through the shot I'm trying to think what modifier where's it need to be I'm still just so where you're from and stuff like that another one I like what kind of music you used to pretty eclectic love everything from hip hop to you know awesome I'm a hip hop head I'm from atlanta I mean we know hip hop right now you and the like top forty kind of hip hop you like the underground heady philosophical kind of hip hop like whatever whatever just but I don't like right right yeah I am I agree I definitely go for the underground stuff so um hang out there I've got to find my exposure I gotta find my life and all that so just you're doing great perfect great. So I have no idea my lights have changed I don't know where my exposure is I just need to take a shot remember it's not about shutter speed here it's all about aperture because all I'm using is flash I've got my hundred millimeter lens on and I take his test shot and my background lights didn't fire and the reason being is there on optical slave all right ah the, uh let's um let's apple tab over here my background lights are on optical slaves they're not on pocket wizards at the moment all right, so they didn't fire they didn't fire because this grid this soft box with the grid kept the light on my subject I didn't send enough light out to pop off the background lights following with what I'm saying so they didn't fire so dan my right hand dan just through one pocket wizard over onto another alien be now that one will fire and when that thing fires it'll trigger the optical over on the other side of the of the set kind of thing when you start using grids and your one pocket was it on your graded light but slaves on your optical slaves on your other ones you're going have a hard time firing the other lights that's where multiple pocket wizards can really come in handy that's perfect right there just kind of hanging out like that that's good we just take a test shot all right now the grid on my strip just really keeps that light kind of defined so we see light hitting part of her face and it's falling off on the right side of her face from camera viewpoint just looking over there so as I move this around I will now light mohr of her face um if I don't want it to be so vertical then I can rotate this around and it will light her more evenly across her face I'm I'm starting to like my my strips as main lights a lot because I can take it vertical aiken take a horizontal and I sort of change the quality of that light and I see that minds about the pop off so as I'm having technical difficulties I start talking more so samara well, I'm dealing with my stupid light over here um what is like your dream job? Like you said ok in acting you can go do like this thing like you want to be in this kind of film or in this city or do you have any like the big dreams kind of thing like that more so like him to be a movie star no but I enjoy a challenge of small, intimate awesome so just smaller independent stuff any specific director you'd love the work with her you don't know I take my favorite director probably right now is craig brewer did hustle and flow um that is one of my favorite movies ever like top three desert island hustle and flow um lovett what top top movie like for you just right now like like this the last movie I can watch and I have to watch it forever and I can't ever see another movie the person who I don't do watching movies again and again my husband's like that he has a question while you're talking I'm just taking test shots you know, watch it one time is just listening to the soundtrack right and watching another time he's watching it for you know, the editing or whatever it is and I kind of like I can revisit a film I enjoy more times but what kind of obsessively are you like jay z you're on to the next one, right? All right um you don't actually need that anymore no, because here's what's going on in my brain all right? Uh what's going on in my brain is okay my light wasn't done right? And I didn't put my my grid on their correctly so that had all come down in front of the client and I don't want to just be ah hold on a second what's your name um shock when it gets quiet on the set it's like right it's good so uncomfortable and that's why I was saying yesterday if you have a hard time talking to people, you're gonna have a hard time being a photographer and when things they're like ooh that light's not right I needed to go and now as she's talking I've gotten ok, I'm back in my head space was my lights there okay, I need to be taking pictures now but she's still in the middle of answering, I'm still in the middle of a conversation so I'm like and hey keep talking I'm just taking the test shot click and while she's talking I'm back here looking at this going I need to go from f eight to seven point one and if I go to seven point one my background is perfect right now as I open my aperture is going to let more of that background light in so my background lights have to go down kind of thing all right because of the ratio of where this is this is an alien b four hundred it's already at full power I can't take the power up at all so it's at full power already so these background lights are too bright so that means they need to come down and power I brought the alien bees down in power the capacitors are still at half I just brought him to quarter so dump dump your lights awesome all right, so I'm not the kind that can like really revisit movies either but there are certain ones that like well I gotta watch that movie again and that my favorites I usually watch about once a year you know maybe but my favorite of all time it's been three years since I've watched it was schindler's list all time forever favorite I just love that perfect right there hold that I'm starting with vertical let me bring your face around this way all right? I've got my light on this side of her face ten minutes whatever whatever celeste, I am in supporting it am I I'm a bastard. All right um all right tomorrow has his bangs coming over on the side of her face and as I bring my light over there those actually start to create shadows so I could give her a haircut right where I could get her starting to push her hair this way but I like the how the hair is right now so all I got to do if those air causing problems it's just simply take my light and move it around this way did you know what you were getting signed up for today? No idea at all that awesome all right, perfect right there that's good and I'm just shooting horizontal right now um that's pretty good I'm gonna bring this power down just a little bit you're looking great you're doing perfect right there good sign up just for me a little bit and bring your face this way for me just kind of turn in your face right there and then rotate your body they're perfect so just taking that subject instead of straight on just breaking that that angle again that's a good starting point all right and that's great I'm taking my auto focus point moving up towards the I and there it is chin up a little bit I need her eyes more to the light so she chins up chin comes up the eyes come up towards the light source more the lights kind of high on her and it's fairly small all right, so that's ok, but it's not like the greatest head shot in the world. I'm not shooting the most massively interesting pictures I've ever shot in my life but I'm just working with my subject just shooting some pictures just talking. I really want to get over here to the octo like that's what I'm thinking about and being I'm being hey break um that's where we're going to move but before I move you're hanging out right there I want to cut off these background lights I want to create just something a little more dramatic I want a darker background, so one way to get a dark backgrounds turn lights off of it, then I have her kind of pulled away from that wall, right? It's kind of don't don't move don't even live like you're just hanging out right there. Um, I want that wall to go dark, so I'm using a small modifier keeping it right on her, keeping it close to her. If you all remember from studio class inverse square law, right, that light is falling off over distance, right from the subject to the background. Plus it's got a grid inside of the the strip so it's keeping light off of that wall so that wall it's white right now, it should go darn near black it's going to be very dark back there and be far more dramatic, and I don't want to see any of the carpet or any of that junk back there, so I'm going to take a knee, your I love that just stay just like you were, and I'm going to lower my light so that her eyes are getting light. I'm going to keep this stupid box out of my shot do great alright hundred millimeter lens compressing if I was shooting with twenty eight millimeter lens right now, I'd be seeing even if I got close to her I'd still see the carpet I'd still see the wires in the background hundred millimeter compresses that background in so I can have a smaller area to work in perfect right there hold that beautiful so the background has gone dark I love the grid on her it's just this really nice light over there somewhere behind camera number two or three or one um yeah it's just far more dramatic is it the head shot no we'll get to that second let's go back into that one kind of how you were sitting before if you can remember that one right there love it I just want a little more light around the front so I'm just sneaking this this this what is this strip around the front just a little bit more not so much to the side perfect making sure I keep my tether I don't want any of that background this uh the hand that's on your knee bring up more to your just right to the top of your boot yet uh there that's good and then the hand that's on your bring and then up to the top of your boot right there perfect and face around this way just a bit more perfect and just looking right at me now the reason I had her move the hand is I don't want to cut off fingers I don't crop people where they bend all right, so I don't want to cut off fingers wrist at elbow knees, ankles feet either the whole hand needs to be in the shot or I have to crop up toe like the forearm one of the other I do not want to shoot a frame where I cropped just right through the fingers all crop so ahead but not through fingers not through ankles any part that benz is one of my posing rules face this way just a bit right there so I'm bringing her eyes back to the light source good, beautiful and just a little bit of a smirk just a little smile right there good and you could drop that hand down whatever is kind of comfortable chin up just a little bit good bringing her eyes back up to the light excellent wonderful staying just like that I'm going to go ahead and run for just a tighter shot good putting her off to a third accident. Nice. Okay, um so pop up for me we're going to move to the octo all right now when I don't have window light um dan, if we can go ahead and get this set up uh actually, you hold this, I'll get this uh when I don't have window light I try to go to as large of a light sources I could get my hands on so like my fifty inch westcott soft box a big umbrella something like that and I'm just trying to fake window light and he's juice were issued a couple more shots here and then we're breaking for lunch this is the lunch break coming up right lunch break is coming up all right we out when we come back from this next break here will be outdoors and then it's available light and flash and mixing them together we're into phil flash outside things like that cool feel flash another more exciting so now I've added knocked a baked into my arsenal in the last year I'm gonna grab this apple box and it's my you're going come along over here with me I've only added this in the last year in fact it was right before creative life last time you're going to have a seat here again and face this wall over here perfect um and omg I love this thing but it took me what is that seven years for me to add this into my arsenal of of modifiers so for seven years was working photographer without knocked bank. Now look at this thing this isn't just throw it over your shoulder and take on location with you when this goes on location with me I need sandbags or I need a dan bag right uh my right hand and I haven't even introduced dan yet dan is working here behind the scenes eyes my right hand, dan, um going on location of the knot is a commitment, especially this size. You need bigger light stand. You need sandbags usually need an assistant and you get your idea for a shot and set it up there and shoot it. And then it has to come down. And if you're moving to another location it all asked, come apart and you put the thing together and yours are stupid stuff. Good debate and I feel I always apologized, dan. I'm like then I want the octo bank. I'm sorry, but I want to I want the octo and he has got a great attitude. So you no problem and I know no let's not do the octo just set it up, you know, typical photographer. So when I need window light and I don't have window light and I needed just a big, massive soft, soft, beautiful, like, here comes the octa and for headshots situations I love to shoot it right over my head. So I'm up in this thing right now. It's so big it's, just the lights wrapping around me kind of thing. All right, now I want to shoot this photographic to wait I got one hundred millimeters to eight lens on this I want to shoot it to eight I mean, I s o one hundred um I met one twenty fifth of a second I'm on flash white balance of shooting raw I'm on one shot focus I'm on all of that and I'm going to do a light meter reading just through my camera and it's blinking in my camera that I'm looking at all this ambient light because I got this big video light over here I got this window light over here what is the ambient light? Is that actually going to show up in my shot? I'll take a picture without the flash and I'm getting a good bit of that light all right um in this if it pops up yeah, so it to eight at one twenty fifth of a second I'm getting quite a bit of ambient light in here all right um so I could make a decision I can shoot at a higher aperture and cut that, but as I shoot a high aperture I get greater depth of field because I get greater depth of field. This would background comes in more into focus. Maybe I don't want that so much so I either cut that or I hope that this just sort of flashes over all of it and sort of because that's one color temperature this is another color temperature, right? I need this to kill that um so let's see what happens with that? I'm just going to turn on my flash I have no idea what power setting this is on I know I want to shoot it to eight and I won't take a picture and see and if this is too bright then this power will have to come down it's too much powers it's like the dimmer switch on the back of my flesh so takes out a phone yes I could hear it I could feel it like that's going to be way too bright you got nuclear right it's kind of porcelain skin it's sort of you know flawless complexion because you I have zero complexion right so flash powered chest slightly slightly too hot like by three stops we say three stops for stops right I am a half power I can go to thirty second power so quarter power eighth power sixteenth power is three stops alight let's take it to sixteenth we may need to take it all the way down to thirty second power I'm trying for it to be it to eight zach, do you worry about standing in front of it? A blocking any of the light this big debate it was a twenty eight inch soft box absolutely okay, I would eclipse it right with seven feet so when it's when I'm just like head and shoulders into it is that even though your outline of the octu bank is directly like in front of you may see me in her catch lights maybe if I should a really tight, tight tight face shot then my form may show up in her catch lights and I have a times when that's happening I turn at an angle and bring my camera like this just so you don't see a weird human form in the catch lights of the eyes, right? Well, you're shooting wide enough that I shouldn't have that problem and she and there we go now I'm not getting my blinking highlights, but I know my camera I know my screen and it's a little bright and I bet if I go into my rgb history graham, I'm gonna have that big spike in the red, which I do is that we have a camera handheld anywhere can we see this let's see if we get this rgb in there see that all right, so that huge massive spike in my read is telling me that the red channel in her skin is gone a lot of it so one more stop of power down this goes and it looks like I'm just washing out I'm killing the ambient light with my flash so I don't have to turn that video light off do do do do alright excellent perfect I move my auto focus point up to an I slightly re composing and taking a look my red spike is gone my exposure looks good let me go to a larger display and I think I'm there sorry exposure color looks horrible on that screen over there it looks all right here so good turn your face that a little more to me excellent right there now I'd like that shoulder turned away just a bit right they're excellent good good good get myself a little more space now I like this one hundred millimeter cannon linds but when it hunts for focus it's pretty atrocious um good I'm going to say you want to look at my info you know I think I could use like a third stop more exposure instead of going up there to my life I'm a nice so one hundred right now I'm just going to go to isil when twenty five excellent that shoulder back just a bit right there I don't like shooting strayed into shoulders so I just try to avoid that I want to shoot some horizontal is here because it's not quite a head shot but it's a nice portrait perfect not rotate to me just a little more and I want you where you're kind of leaning more over this way kind of leaning on here there we go perfectly now chin up just a little bit and bring your face this way just a little more right there good smile perfect excellent. Excellent. Excellent is nice. I like you, borat. Fan it on sometimes. Some of it. Oh, yeah. Oh, my god. Only some of it like, yeah, there's just but, man, I you know, kudos the lake. What he does awesome. Good looking right at me. Perfect. Right there. Now. Head tilt over this way. Why? I'm asking we heard it tilt her head over that way is already have five shots with it here. Let's, bring it over to the other side, and I like kind of the shape for the head down through the body. Uh, that that makes so you have shots over here and you shots over here kind of thing. Um, and sometimes I give direction to clients just I don't maybe I don't need her head tilted that way. I just need to change it. I just need to keep her moving or if I go quiet and she doesn't know what to do in front of camera and I'm just shooting pictures of the same thing over and over and over again just to look that way. Look this way. Look up! Look down! Close your eyes now open. All right.

Class Description

Want to be a good photographer? Want to do it for a living? Want to rise above the bottom? Then join Zack Arias for this creativeLIVE course. Zack's first workshop was all about studio lighting. This time around, he's covering what you need to know to be a professional working photographer. Many people requested a class about business. Many requested natural light. Plenty wanted strobe + ambient. Everyone wanted more “client interaction” and posing guidelines. Zack's digging deep and covering as much as he can.



Outstanding! There are so many gems, any photographer aspiring to venture into business will gain much from this course. There are plenty of technical how-to's with superb examples, from choosing the right lens for a given situation, to learning about reciprocals, expressed in Zack's warm and fun style. He's a joy to watch. But, this class is much more than that. Zack is extremely generous in sharing very personal experiences and insight, on how he began from early days of struggling, to current projects, how he built his portfolio, and looking ahead to the future. And, in the final discussion with his wife Meghan, they open up and share their personal struggles balancing work and family life, and their strong support of each other. We can all relate to this. This class is a great guide on what it takes to start and become a successful pro photographer, and pulls no punches. It's not easy to do, but with some creativity and an insane amount of hard work, is doable and very rewarding!