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Shoot: Corporate Head Shots with Profoto B1 and 5 ft Octobox

Lesson 22 from: Lighting, Logistics, and Strategies for a Life in Photography

Joe McNally

Shoot: Corporate Head Shots with Profoto B1 and 5 ft Octobox

Lesson 22 from: Lighting, Logistics, and Strategies for a Life in Photography

Joe McNally

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Lesson Info

22. Shoot: Corporate Head Shots with Profoto B1 and 5 ft Octobox


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Location Assessment


Gear Overview


Direction and Wardrobe


Exploring Location and Available Light


Bar Owner: Setting the Scene


Shoot: Bar Owner


Shoot: Bar Owner, Evolving the Look


Lesson Info

Shoot: Corporate Head Shots with Profoto B1 and 5 ft Octobox

Can you guys stay with me for a little bit? Are you okay, comfortable with this? All right, so what's a next step? Let's not move. What's a next step that you could do? Another iteration of light, a different style of light? We went from available to a single flash off the wall. That's a camera-bag solution. This, little more complicated, little more extensive. You gotta bring, like, a sausage bag, or something like that, stuff for these lights. Three flashes, okay, all of that. So let's go to a Profoto B1 and a five-foot Octa. (man speaking softly) Um, we'll actually bring it out in here. Get the boom please. The different styles of light that we're encountering here, playing with, it's all relative to your workflow, right? Like, if you're a speedlight photographer, and you're, generally speaking, moving fast with your clients, this could be a great rig. A ratcheting TriFlash, four on one umbrella, strong C-stand, extension arm, articulation, nice, big light source, you could do w...

ell with it. Absolutely, alright, budgetarily. Three speedlights are 600 bucks each, let's call it. So that's an expenditure right there. Throw in the battery packs, for instance, and you're at a couple grand. Now I'm gonna go to one ProFoto light, a B1, 500-watt seconds. I don't wanna get quoted here. Please, please don't quote me exactly, but I think they're roughly around 2, last time I checked, 2,500 maybe for one light. So now you've got three lights, and you could spray them around the room, if you were doing a single portrait. You'd have versatility. Joe, I'm gonna move this back. Oh, sure. Or as opposed to one light, which is a really dependable, big, beautiful source. Now the Octa that goes on this, that's another expenditure. So you have to kinda meter your workflow. Folks ask all the time, well, why do you use speedlights, as opposed to this. You know, I use them religiously in many, many situations that I used to use big flash. But when do you use big flash? I use big flash all the time as well, because the needs of a job are particular to that style of light. So, again, we are in this position. I'm sorry, guys, am I holdin' up the works? No, you're all right. We are in this position constantly. I'm putting the radio over here on the table, so I don't get blamed for putting it in my pocket. Do you wanna go, just from the space here, do you want me to go up and over from behind? Yeah, I think that would be, that would be cool. Okay. Kinda like a pitch, right there? That's a pretty good pitch. We're gonna need to sandbag that puppy pretty good. Yup. Sure. Is there any way we could get it closer to them? Absolutely. Cool. Do you wanna get a frame of reference in your camera before I, uh-- Yeah, why don't I get camera position, and then we'll drape the light over me. Oops, sorry, Andrew. No, you're good, you're good. Just wanna make sure you're okay. Alright, no, I'm good, I'm good. Alright, cool. I mean, roughly the frame that we had before, sorta, kinda speakin'. In that ballpark, alright? Cool? I'd be worried, Brittany, because Suzy's got a very confident look on her face-- Like more boss-like? Yeah, like she's gonna take your job sometime soon. Yeah. You know. Okay. You feelin' good? Yeah, push in. You see what Callie's doin' here? He's pushin' that light in, and we kinda play a game. I try to get that light as close as I possibly can to my subjects. You know, and I'll actually, okay, come in, come in, come in, come in, stop. Stop right there, edge of the frame. Okay, I try to get max efficiency out of my lights. Now that pitch, and that closeness, may turn out to be a little steep for their eyes. Let's see, alright. So, I'm talkin' to this light via the, ProFoto triggers here. This is a straight-up trigger, this is not a TTL trigger, so I'm actually in the realm of manual. Oh, actually, no, this is the T, this is the updated trigger here, so I'm in TTL. Let me bang into TTL. Alright, we okay? Alright? 1/30 of a second, manual. I'm at f/11, let's see what happens. (shutter clicks) All right, so, classic TTL response. All sorts of bright light coming in the background. Lots and lots of bright light coming in the background. It's informing the decision of the flash to sort of underexpose a little bit. (shutter clicks) Okay, that's better, that's better. Now, Callie, what do you think? Do you think we should get more friendly with the light, or do you think it's a little bit shadowy? Yeah, a little bit. I mean, if I come a little more frontal. I think if, it was my bad, really. Can you swing this way, and let's pitch back out, so it's a little more flat to them. Yeah. All right, I'm gonna drop it, Andrew. There you go. Got it? Thanks, man. Yup. Better, so now that light will be a little more flat and frontal to you, more like this wall. Essentially this is a wall of light. You know, so I've basically taken the wall and kinda shifted it directionally. If you notice, too, my lighting with the umbrella, and my lighting from the wall was to camera right. Now I'm over camera. I make sacrifices all the time in the potential position of my light in accommodation of the reality of the set. Like, I can't get that light in here right now. Or if I wanted to it would take forever, and I'd have to, you know, put a stand over there, and get a heavier-duty boom, and bring it in, and that sorta thing, and I'm not willin' to do that now, because time is the enemy. So I'm tryin' to be as efficient as I can. Okay, cool? (shutter clicks) That's a little better, let me put a little more power in that light, let me go to plus 1.7. (shutter clicks) This light is now operating TTL, I like that exposure. Now I can go manual. (shutter clicks) And I've got the same exposure, so this kind of language that this is talking has lock to it. And I'm also adjusting my exposure via the exposure, up-and-down exposure, camera-compensation dial on my camera. I'm not actually using this, okay, I'm talkin' to the light via the camera. So the camera language is being decoded, because it's a Nikon camera, it's a ProFoto decoder ring, if you will. Okay, anybody ever read Green Lantern, when, no? Anyway, um... But I'm losing Cliff a little bit. Suzy kinda scooch this way, Cliff see if you can push forward into their shoulders just a tiny bit. There you go, good, good. (shutter clicks) Nice, okay, now, let's do this, 1/30th at F11. Let's go 1/60th at F11. (shutter clicks) That feels about right, that feels pretty good. How do you feel about that Callie? Yeah I like that, can you go back one? Yeah, I like the 60th better. Yeah, Nick, could you come around a little bit more? You're too much right over Tonia's head. (shutter clicks) Cool, alright, so there's a very nice quality of light to this as well, okay? Up to you guys to differentiate, you know. Tonia's glasses, Suzy's glasses are all fine, skin tones are excellent, and by feathering this light, physically who's the closest person to the light? Probably because just the angle there, so could we feather camera right, please, let's just feather just a little bit. Nick is the furthest person from the light, so I'm gonna see if I can cheat that just a little bit. I won't have much articulation here, available to me, but we'll see. (shutter clicks) Hard to say, yes, oh wow, there it is. If you look at, Brittany, in this exposure and then go back to the previous exposure, this side, the highlight side of her face, the strobe side of her face, is definitely brighter before the feather, okay. So even though it's a big light source and it's goin' a lot of places that feather was distinctly helpful. So small moves add up to kind of a big deal. Alright, so, how bout a round of applause for everybody here, nice job, nice job. (clapping) Joe. Yes. How many diffusers do you have, is there another layer? Yes there's another layer in here, right there. Silver, this one's silver. The beauty of that easy box, hatchu soft box, say that fast, on the 24 inch that I've been using, is that it's a white interior, and I'm not saying silver is bad, lots of receptacles or light shapers have silver in them, but I kinda put forward the idea to the last light company a number of years ago to make one in white. Because the effect and feel of the light is a little creamier, because the source is smaller. So it's defacto never gonna be as wrapping as this guy. So we take steps to make sure that it does have every kind of softness advantage we can possibly bequeath to that light. Can you address outdoors, if you're doin' a group what your selection to modify it would be, obviously cause wind and you're dealing with... Yeah, the question is a selection of modifier outdoors, dealing with wind, that's kind of survival time. Your friend outdoors often times when you're shooting groups is the north side of any building, or open shade, or looking into greenery. Greenery is a color in the spectrum that's very light absorbent, so if you put out of focus green trees in the background in bright sunlight, they'll still go fairly rich and dark and saturated looking. And then you light your foreground. One of the biggest ways you can help yourself on a group shot, how big are we talkin' Cliff? Maybe 12 people. 10, 12 people, this would easily handle that. You could just blast across it, and it depends though, it depends on the nature and power of the ambient light. So I can't give you an absolutely lock-solid answer. This would be an effective light, I would probably fill a camera, maybe put in an additional umbrella at camera, and basically make an on camera flash, almost like a hatchu flash, position, but make it a nice soft hatchu flash so you get fill from camera, and directionality from this, and you'd probably fine covering 12 people. Alright Eugene had asked in that scenario, are you shooting in matrix metering, center weighted, spot weighted? Matrix. Matrix. I'm in matrix metering, I like the camera to observe the scene and the totality of the scene. When you were talking about going a stop or two under, were you referring to the camera or on the flashes? Most of my, well, most of my manipulation there was vis a vi, the flash power, and I was dictating to the flash, mostly they go up in power, but I was also minusing out exposure from the background via the mechanism of shutter speed. So as I've said throughout the class there's these levers of control that you have. F stops and shutter speeds to be sure, but that flash gives you another lever of control or push and pull, what you have up in here. If I was trying to shoot this picture from this angle and I had no flash, and I had nothing but available light and I needed to shoot here, God knows why, I'd really be cooked, because I'd have to just blow those windows out so hard, that they wrap around my subject and effectively cascade off of this, and become my main light. Which means now we're sort of in the realm of fashion, not a corporate portrait because there's literally no detail left in the background. Okay, thank you. Okay. Joe do you wanna bring up the fact that you use second curtain sync for your camera? Oh rear curtain? As opposed to motion, yeah rear curtain sync. Yeah Andrew brings up a good point, actually somewhat pursuant to the question earlier of 1/30th of a second shutter speeds. I resolutely most of the time, have my camera set up in rear curtain sync which means that the flash goes off at the end of the shutter, at the end of the exposure rather than the beginning of the exposure. It's not a crucial thing for a situation like this, cause like I say these folks are stationary. In the realm of motion it does become crucial. Because then the motion blur occurs, and at the end of the exposure the flash happens and the blur is behind the subject. If you have front curtain, it can be reversed, and therefore not logical. So if you're dealing with a panning, moving, subject, rear curtain, by and large, is the way to go, absolutely. Thought, (laughs) welcome to photography! Nothing's universal, nothing's ever right completely. You can never do anything absolutely the same way all the time. I was photographing a wedding, it was actually my nieces wedding. Callie was shooting it as the main shooter and I was just trying to interfere as best as I could. You did a great job by the way. And I did a great job at that, but all of the groomsmen started doing this pogo-stick style of dance, and they're jumping up and down as if they're all on pogo-sticks and they're all together and I'm thinking, great cool and I'm in there at 1/15th of a second rear curtain and I'm making pictures like crazy, and I'm thinking this is fantastic, then I look at the stuff later, and the flash went off at the end of 1/15th of a second, which meant that during their leap, 1/15th of a second, they went up and then back down again. So all my sharp pictures were then back on the ground. So what I should've done was gone into front curtain, Mr Genius here, and flashed at the moment they were at the top of their jump. And just gone for that. So there is this sort of occasional thing that you have to factor, where is the flash gonna hit a dancer, at what crucial point in time, should it be at the end of the exposure should it be in the beginning of the exposure? It would be wonderful, here's a thought, here it'd be wonderful if camera manufacturers in the next iteration of the future cameras, could actually give you the ability to dial in, when the flash happens during the course of an exposure. Middle points, a one second exposure, where do you want your flash to go off? At .7? That sounds like too much, but it actually ain't, because say you're working with an Olympic athlete, and you're doin' like triple jump, or something like that. Hop, skip, jump, movin' very fast. So you time that, I've done that with athletes. I'll say do your move and I time it. Then I factor my shutter speed against that. So it would be actually kind of a cool lever of control to be able to dial in where your shutter speed occurs. I was just thinkin' about that.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Joe McNally Gear List
McNally Lighting Diagrams

Ratings and Reviews


What is there to say, this is a master at work. I feel like I owe Joe a hundred lunches for the information I’ve learned from him and used in jobs through the years. Personally I relate to his slightly self-deprecating style quite well. Joe’s a confident, supremely knowledgeable and incredibly experienced photographer who doesn’t need to wear that on his sleeve to get the point across. He is also clearly a great leader who has built a terrific team. I snap up everything of Joe’s I can find and use it as a library, where every time you watch you take away something new. Thanks Joe, you’re a legend and good on Creative Live for offering this wonderful and beautifully curated course.

ileana gonzales photography

When I saw the chance to learn from the great Joe McNally I jumped through the screen at the chance to be in the audience. It's one thing to see how a fantastic photographer works, thinks, composes and styles, but to get a behind the curtain view at the way his entire shop operates was truly amazing. By allowing us to see Lynn's processes and Cali's workflow it encouraged me to diversify before taking the plunge into the business side of photography. Truly an amazing team and an unforgettable learning experience.


Joe is fantastic! The wealth of information, experience and extraordinary talent he shares is invaluable! He's also a very engaging, humorous instructor who keeps an audience a part of the "discussion." Don't miss a Joe McNally class, seminar or workshop opportunity!

Student Work