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One-Light High Key Headshot with Male Model

Lesson 13 from: The Business of Professional Headshots

Gary Hughes

One-Light High Key Headshot with Male Model

Lesson 13 from: The Business of Professional Headshots

Gary Hughes

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Lesson Info

13. One-Light High Key Headshot with Male Model


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

One-Light High Key Headshot with Male Model

Okay, guys, we talked about in the last segment that we want to show how easy it is to create these looks without having to have a whole bunch of expensive equipment. We already identified that most of us probably already have at least one Speedlite. So we're gonna go ahead and show you the basic look the bread and butter look that I do over and over and over again and how I can recreate that using just one Speedlite. That being said, it is totally different to do this live and in front of people, but I'm okay with not getting it perfect on the first shot if ya'll are okay with me not getting it perfect on the first shot. So it's gonna be kind of cool. I will actually go through the process. I have kind of tested and dialed it in, but I'm gonna explain to you not just the lighting and equipment, but my process that I use to get the exposure that I want to make sure that everything's working. Is that cool? You guys good with that? Alright, so let's start. We have two gorgeous models tod...

ay, and one gorgeous man and one gorgeous lady, and I will start out, since this is sort of the easier part for me, I wanna go ahead and bring Oscar over here, if you would come. That would be great. Everybody, this is Oscar, handsome devil. How's it going? Alright, Oscar, I want you to have a seat right here on the stool. Now, remember what I said, that the hips should be slightly above the knees and that the feet should rest flat on the ground. So that's where we start. Now the way that we're gonna get this to work with one light, and I normally would not position my subject before I have my light set up, but I want you to see the relation of the subject to the background. So what happens first is that if I got one light, I know that if my background is super far away from the subject that that background is gonna be black, no matter what I do, if I'm not putting a light on that background. So in order to make that background evenly lit, I'm gonna have to keep Oscar fairly close to it. Does that make sense? So what I would want to start with is building a key light, which is basically your main light for the photo shoot. So what I got here is happy awesome Speedlite #1. Now, this is a Canon 600EX-RT 5000 C3PO, and I'm not really sure, but what I've got on here, this is a Larson Signature from SweetLight Systems. This is a 20 x 20 soft box, and this is what I use now for this. One, it's small and it's portable but like I said, I would prefer to use this, but you don't have to use this. I shot this setup for six or seven years with a shoot-through umbrella. So that's totally doable. So don't think that you have to go out and buy this, although I would fully recommend it 'cause it's super awesome. So, your main light is gonna be the first positioning mistake that people are gonna make because what traditional photography education tells you is to position the light 45 degrees off the bridge of the nose and 45 degrees up in the air and point it at your subject. Now I find for some things, that works great, and yes, in a textbook type of situation, that works really well, but what I wanna do is I wanna engage the edges of the light 'cause the light that comes off the edges of a soft box is always gonna be softer and more pleasing and easier to work with in this type of situation. You will notice also that I use lights really, really close to the subject. I have always had a really small camera room and I shot this event one time with another photographer that was for charity. So we're in this massive studio with 30-foot high ceilings. It's like 100 x 150 feet, just the biggest camera room with a psych wall all the way around. You couldn't even imagine a better studio, and he set up his lights on one side and I set up my lights over here, and as I was finishing to set up, he comes over, he goes, "Hey Gary, why are your lights all so close together?" I go, "Because my studio is like 13 feet x 11.5 feet and that's just how I learned to shoot," but it's become part of my style because as we talked about, when you use lights in close, a smaller light source can behave a lot more like a softer light source, and a relatively large light source like a 3 x or a 4 x 6 becomes a beautiful soft light source. So most of the time, I'm gonna have my main light source about arm's length. I'm not gonna give you feet 'cause I couldn't tell you. So right here is Oscar. Go ahead and give me the arm all the way out there for me, other side. There you go, perfect, and more towards the light. That's about right it. That's about where I'm at. Okay thanks man, and I don't point the light at him. I point the light across from him. Now this is gonna require a little more power on the part of the light 'cause the light that comes off the edges is softer, but it's also weaker. Think about light literally shooting in every direction. Even if this light is pointed over here and I'm standing here, some of that light's gonna get to me, just a lot less. So I wanna use the beautiful light that comes off of the edges of the soft box, and then you're gonna put it, a little bit high like the bottom of the soft box for me is usually about the same level as the nose. That works really, really well in most cases. If it's too high, you're gonna get, the light is gonna be coming down and you're gonna get shadows that you don't want moving across the face, and if the light is too low, you're gonna light more of him in his body and the shadows moving up the face. So right about the right level where you're gonna want the light to skip across the bridge of the nose and create a nice direction. So this is gonna be our main light. I'm not gonna shoot with this yet 'cause I'm gonna continue to construct my setup. Next thing I'm gonna do is use this comically-oversized reflector to create my fill light. Just like so. Not what I'm doing with this reflector is I'm positioning it at the edge of Oscar, right here and directly across from this light. What I've done is now I've created a tunnel of this light where I'm using the soft light off the edge and a lot of this main force of this light is going to bounce off this reflector and back onto him, and when it bounces off this and hits back, it's gonna lose some power. So the fill light should be, let's say about one-stop different on the shadow side of the face than on the main side. Now if you want deeper shadows, just move the light a little further away. If you want more flat, you just move it a little closer. So typically, I would put it straight like that. I would just let it bounce and let the falloff light hit that way, make a little tunnel, but because I want some of this light to kick back onto the background as well, I'm gonna turn it just a little bit, and now this light is gonna hit here and it's gonna fall on him, mostly from this way, fill this way, and it's going to also bounce onto the background. You with me? Now I take another comically-oversized reflector. These things are awesome by the way, and these are also from SweetLight Systems, and they're really, really cool, and that one's probably a little tall. Hang on. Remember I said you could use foam board from Home Depot to do the same thing? You can, but these things also roll up to about the size of a hot dog. So you're totally okay to do that. I need to get this a little shorter. I guess this light stand is a little tall. Can I get an assistant to hold it maybe? Yeah, will somebody, one of you guys? 'Cause this light stand is a little tall for this, but these have a cool handle on the back and they spin and we'll add this in later. In fact, actually go ahead Megan, you can just have a seat, and when I actually need to shoot, then I'll (mumbles) somebody, and then, I typically have a shorter light stand, but I'll put this right here underneath, flat, right just under chest level. Now what this does, is this is gonna take the falloff light that bounces low and bounce it back up into his face, fill shadows under the eyes. It's gonna give me further fill light, and it's gonna make the eyes really pop 'cause you got somebody like Oscar. He's got these great, strong features. Also, he's got dark eyes, and this is gonna light those up and really show off what those are supposed to look like. You with me on that? Okay, cool. So let's put that here for now. So, you see how we're building the setup? Now I've got my camera on a tripod right here, and I'm using the Canon Wireless Trigger, but no matter what lights you're using, you can use any kind of radiotransmitter you want. The Canon Speedlites have radio trigger built into them, which is really, really useful, and you can also do different groupings, change lighting ratios, use it TTL. I typically shoot manual. I'm not a big TTL person, not because I don't like it 'cause I'm not used to it. I've just done things manual for so long, it's faster and easier for me to do it that way. So if you're a TTL person, you could do this also. The main problem is is like TTL is going to misread this situation because the light is not necessarily pointed at the subject. So you're gonna have to do exposure compensation of at least one stop to get a correct exposure using TTL, and for those of you, TTL is Through the Lens. That's letting the camera and the flash pick the exposure, which I'm not really cool with, especially in terms where something might change 'cause if you focus on a different part of the image, you can get a completely different exposure based on what the camera and the flash decide to do together. This way, I know that no matter what happens, I'm gonna get the same thing. Put this off to the side. So typically what I'll do is I'll have my assistant that's with me on a shoot or anybody who happens to be nearby that's not my client, I don't do a lot of test shots on the client, so when I'm trying to figure out what my exposure is supposed to be, but let's see how much we're gonna nail this. Why don't we talk about the classic stuff, like the classic headshots. They need to be a deep depth of field, right? How do I get a deep depth of field? A higher aperture value. So, I want to shoot this at at least F8. I wanna get into shooting certain settings with intent. It's not about getting a correct exposure. You have to get away from the mentality of what settings are gonna give me correct exposure. When you're a photography educator, the number one question you get at any seminar is what are your settings, and I just say, it depends on what you want it to look like. I know I need that deep depth of field, I know I'm gonna want to shoot at F8, the camera is in manual, I'm gonna set it to F8 or F10 or F11. It used to be different. You used to have to use more lights and stuff back in the days when high ISOs weren't as good or even in the film days, but I can shoot headshots at 800, 1,000, 1,200, 1,600 ISO and it's not a big deal. Most of the pictures that I use in a situation like this, the intent for them is to be 300 pixels wide on a website. They're not making a billboard out of it most of the time and if they were, good question to ask your clients when they commission you. Is this for a billboard because it might be. I've actually had that happen where a client picked an image that I gave him and I didn't know it was for a billboard and now there are 12 of them all over Orlando and I hate the picture. (audience laughs) Never show a client a picture that you hate. Choose your camera settings based on the look, not on the correct exposure. I know that in a situation when I had ambient light in any office building, conference room, you're gonna have fluorescent lights, whatever these happen to be, LEDs. You don't want those to be affecting your photo. You don't want those to be in the mix. You're not trying to mix your Speedlite and whatever light is there. You're trying to drown it out. So you need to bring your shutter speed up, even though we're on a tripod. So you need to be about 160th, 200th of a second, and that will be plenty to drown out most of the ambient light. Are you with me on that? Cool, and now that I know what my camera settings are, let's go ahead and just pop one off. Oscar, can you bring your feet around this way a little bit? Keep going, there you go, perfect. Alright, come back to me just a touch, good. Now just without setting it up, if your camera happen to be set on ISO for whatever reason like the last shoot and you chose F8 and if you have a button to lock in your exposure, I do it 'cause I have fat thumbs, and I like to push buttons by accident. So if you are looking at the image, there we go, and we're just gonna go ahead and shoot one just to see what we get. Oop, I should turn stuff on. We should do that. How do I select the power of my flash? Largely I wanna select the power of my flash based on how long the batteries are gonna last. You could get battery booster packs for these and they'll go for 1,000 exposures, but I will typically use one that the camera doesn't have a big recycle time and since I'm so close to the subject, I don't need to be at full power. So I'm probably gonna select the power of my flash. Hold on, manual, there we go, and I'm gonna go ahead and think, group all, I'm gonna bring that, let's say we'll go to 1/4 power. At 1/4 power and a fresh set of AAs, you could get a couple of hundred easy, easy, couple of hundred shots out of this flash. So unless you're going to take 500 pictures, you don't really need to bring even extra batteries. I'll just shoot it just like with the AAs that are in there. So let's just say at F8, 160th of a second, ISO 100. Okay, let's get that up on the screen. This is gonna be important to do that, 'cause this is a really bad exposure. There, oop, it's coming. So Steele is gonna take care of that. Now what I'm gonna do is take my first test shot because I'm not going to change my F-stop and I'm not going to change my shutter speed, but look, it's underexposed, right? So I have another control left at my disposal. It doesn't matter what the power of that light is. It could be at full power, it could be at one 30-second power, the light ratio that we've created using the reflector and the background is what we're the most interested in. So just turn it on, whatever the power is set at, you can change your exposure based around what you want the image to look like. It's gotta be sharp all the way through. So I'm very underexposed, although the lighting pattern looks great, the ratio. I'm going to fine-tune the pose. Damn Oscar, you got a strong look, bro. (audience laughs) Oh man, man love, right? It's about to become a brodeo in here, I mean good. I'm at ISO 100. I know that I'm going to need to increase that. In these circumstances, probably I'd go up. That looks about two to three stops underexposed, just eyeballing it. If I go up to 400 from 100, anybody know how many stops that it? That's two? Okay, so let's give that one a whirl. Okay, that's pretty close. That should be up in just a second. I'm using not trying to get a correct exposure to determine what camera settings I choose. I'm deciding on what I want the image to look like, and just for frame of reference, I've got the camera white balance set to flash. I typically would do a custom white balance in every circumstance, and we can do that, but I feel like that's pretty easy to figure out how to do it and I don't wanna waste your time with that. So I think for our purposes today, flash white balance will be just fine 'cause we're using a flash. That's what it's for. So if it's sunny, you just put it on sunny. I don't shoot on auto white balance because it's unpredictable. If you're gonna shoot a wedding, and you're shooting at a wedding reception, every time you turn around and click, it'll be a different color temperature. So if you're trying to batch-edit a wedding and you have to stop and fix the color temperature every three images, it's gonna take forever. So even if it's the wrong color temperature, if you shoot every image in the same scene at that color temperature, in batch editing, it's one correction you have to make instead of a bunch. Does that make sense? In essence, when you're shooting raw, it really doesn't matter a ton what your white balance is, as long as you're making it easy on yourself to edit later 'cause digital is forgiving like that. Alright cool. So I'm gonna go ahead and get a little more exposure. So 500 ISO is gonna be pretty good for us, I think and now, I'm gonna make sure using reflectors that we get plenty of light, and that should be up in a second. Now I want the shadow side to be a little less pronounced 'cause remember we're doing this classic look. So I bring the reflector in a little closer and now we should be ready. I can probably just put this on the floor and see what it does. There we go, that will probably work. Okay, Oscar, I want you to relax everything for me. We're gonna talk about the posing. Start from scratch. So sit just facing me straight on like you would if you just sat down, good. So this is pretty typical. When somebody sits down, they wanna face the camera straight on. I'm gonna turn Oscar into the light, and I'm still gonna demonstrate. Look what I can do if I have a tripod. I can walk over and I can stand right in front of him and direct him, instead of having a camera in my face. I'm tested. I know what I'm gonna do is going to work, and now I can do my job by relating to my subject by engaging with them. So all I need you to do is just turn this way about 30 degrees. That's 32. Come back 2 degrees. Okay, that's perfect, alright, good. Now I want you take your hands, and I want you to put your palms on your thighs like that. Good, you see that change in posture automatically, his shoulders are back? Now this is a fitted jacket. Sorry if I'm getting out of the way here, but if you have a fitted jacket, one thing that happens sometimes is you get it bunched up in the back, and this is important for corporate stuff for that jacket to be nice and not wrinkled. So we're there, and this is the point where I take a lint roller and I'll talk to him a little bit, hey, how are you doing, that sort of thing, but he's a professional, I don't need to do that. So now I'm in the position. Here's the only thing I see is he's kind of lilting this way, don't correct anything just yet. I want you to sort of lean with me this way a little bit. There you go, alright. From the waist, you're gonna pivot this way, just a touch. Yeah, yeah, good, and now lean towards me like so. You see how I'm doing everything with him? Alright, cool, and now he's in the perfect position. Okay, you angry man you. Alright, here we go, perfect. I might need to bounce a little more light up, and I'm just gonna fix the shirt. Two seconds in real life can save you so much aggravation in Photoshop. I tell you. That's a nice dimple in your tie there, dude. Thank you. You're good at dimpling. You work out? Yeah. Man, you smell great. Thank you. (audience laughs) Button that jacket, okay, okay, perfect. Now all we're shooting is basically your headshot is typically gonna be from the first button of the jacket. So whatever's going on there out of control below that, I don't really care as long as the top part looks good. There we go. ♪ Buh, buh, buh ♪ I'll button my jacket too. We'll be jacket buddies, alright. Perfect, okay, upper body, just sway this way. There you go, and then lean forward. Perfect, yeah, you got it. Alright, let's give this one a whirl. I want you to relax those shoulders a little bit for me Oscar. There you go, perfect. Now we got, ooh, I accidentally. There we go, okay, cool. That's not too shabby. I can live with that. I still got a little bit of darkness and I'm gonna add a little more bounce underneath to fill in those eyes. Can we get that one up on screen? There you go Oscar, looking good, man. Now the other thing I wanna do for classic is I also kind of want to keep one shoulder uncropped. So relax your arms a little bit. I want you to turn a little more this way for me, Oscar. There you go, boom. Turn your head back this way just a touch. There it is, Yahtzee. So we're gonna leave the crop, a little bit of room to work with for that traditional, sort of 8 x 10 format. Okay, I want you to relax the expression. This is how I get a litmus test for what their face looks like. I want you to relax all the muscles in your face, take a deep breath, (inhales/exhales) good, and now I want you to just loosen up your jaw a little bit. That's perfect, okay. Here we go. Lean into me just a touch, right there. Okay, here we go and turn your head this way just a little. There we go. Tilt a little that way, and there we go. Hello. ♪ Is it me you're looking for ♪ There we go. I think we're pretty good there. So what I've got basically looking at it is now I've got an open-lighting ratio, which remember the shadow of the nose and the shadow side of the face aren't connected and I've also got a good one or two stop depending on how you look at it, everybody sees it a little bit different ratio. I've got everything in line with what I need to get this shot done, and it's got one Speedlite. The only thing I might do is because he's got darker features, dark eyes, I might actually bring in a little more fill, I'll bring this reflector a little closer. So Megan, do you mind just popping a little reflection in there? We're just gonna put that right about there. Oh yeah, you can see it already. You're not gonna be able to see the last one you did. Okay, I can do another one just like it. You've got the eyes of a tiger. There it is, perfect, okay, piece of cake. This again, this is your pretty basic classic muslin headshot. Alright Oscar, doing great. Give me slight tilt, bam, and a little more lean, right there, perfect man, that's great. You see the direction, everything is a verbal instruction and a mirrored instruction. Perfect, okay, zooming in. You've got a perfect camera smile, I love that. Perfect, let's take three of these in a row. I always tell the client how many pictures I'm gonna take so they're not feeling like they're gonna be sitting there forever. Alright Oscar, let's do three of these. I want you to do one relaxed, and as we shoot, I want you to warm up into that little smile. I like that small smile you got going on. So, we're gonna open like the pedals of a flower to the sun or something. (laughs) Ready, here we go, one, good, perfect, and two, and there you go man. That's perfect. I like your moves, I like your style. Alright, there we go, piece of cake. Now the only thing I might I do, you see? The background is evenly lit. You got nice, open lighting on his face. You see how the extra fill, you can see his eyes now, like they're really brought up? Okay, thanks Megan. You can put that down. I really appreciate you. Yeah. One of the big differences depending on the ethnicity, the nationality, the genetic history of someone is you will get in a lot of men like me, they have the caveman forehead, like this. So the eyes are recessed. A typically feminine trait, although not exclusively feminine trait is to have a flatter face with less recessed eyes. Now both happen in both genders, but you have to realize that it's gonna be a lot harder to light somebody when they have a forehead like mine. Oscar's got the same kind of prominent brow that I do. So you're gonna have to work a lot harder to get that light up into those eyes. That's where this bottom reflector becomes crucial. Analyze the face. Look at somebody and say, this is what I'm gonna need to make him look good. So if I had somebody else sit down, if I had Lenna sit down in place of Oscar, she has a much more open face, and I wouldn't need to work as hard to get the light into those eyes, but if you don't light up the eyes, if you don't make those look good, nobody is gonna like a picture of themselves where their eyes don't look good, especially a headshot, for example 'cause the eyes are the crux of the entire thing. Any questions on any of that so far? We do have questions. (laughs) There's no doubt. Going back when you want to get a proper exposure, why did you bump up the ISO and not the flash power? That's a great question. The reason I bump up the ISO and not the flash power is because I wanna keep this relatively low because again, I'm on batteries. So if I keep that flash power low, I'm gonna get more shots out of that flash. It doesn't cost me any power to jack the ISO up from 100 to 500, and I get 2-1/2 stops basically by doing that, where in this case, my recycle times are gonna be longer time and I'll have to change batteries. Even with the battery pack, you're putting a lot of work on the flash. So two ways that I combat having to use a Speedlite, like if I'm in a situation where I need to be portable or what if you're photographing a hockey club or something as a volume sports and they want the pictures on the ice? How are you gonna get power? Are you gonna get a 3,000-foot extension cord? You're gonna have to use something that's battery-powered. So I don't wanna tax these that much. I wanna keep them nice and happy. Does that make sense? Okay, cool. So, I do have a question. I'm gonna stand up here. A question, people are asking about your getting expressions and so we're seeing you do that in action, but do you have any tips for getting those expressions? The most important thing, Oscar is a professional model. He hasn't changed his face in like 10 minutes. He is just there, he's ready to go. So it's not exactly a fair comparison when you're working with somebody who's a professional model. I can tell him that I need a little small, little squint and he'll hit it, small smile, little squint, tilt the head, and he knows it. So it's not really fair to watch me work with someone who's at his level of proficiency, but the number one thing that you can do to get expression is to be comfortable yourself, to seem like you're calm, and capable, and know what you're doing. If you ever are taking a picture and it's not working out, don't go, uh, that didn't work, let me try something else. Shoot that picture, 10 or 12 of them, and then change something. Everything is on purpose, everything is under control. I don't care if a tornado rips through the studio, I'm on it. That's the number one thing. The number two thing is, you have to be conversational and you have to engage them. Remember, use their name and then also find out stuff about them. Like, hey Oscar, do you like sports? Absolutely. What's your favorite sport? Football. He likes football. Let me guess, are you a Seahawks fan? Absolutely. We're in Seattle! I took a good guess that he's a Seahawks fan. How about that? The Seahawks were actually really good last year, which surprised the heck out of me. Did they get into the SuperBowl? (audience laughs) You see what I mean? It's really easy, sports, especially for men, sports typically are easy, current events. The weather is always a really good place to start, but if somebody feels, and don't be fake about it like I just was. You have to start a conversation. A photo shoot should feel more like a conversation, like a visit with a buddy where you happen to take a picture 'cause my approach with most men is hey, look, we both have to be here and neither of us want to. So let's just get through it. So let's talk about sports, whatever, you just have to make it conversational. It's all about creating atmosphere of comfort. I have sessions where if somebody seems kind of nervous, I'll get them a beer and a shot. (laughs) You know what I mean? Anything you can do to sort of loosen somebody up. You gotta realize that for some people, getting your picture taken is terrifying. I'm a photographer and I hate having my picture taken. Do photographers typically don't like having their pictures taken? I know you might, I don't, but you have to do everything you possibly can to create an atmosphere of comfort. So that when you say something that's funny, it's not contrived. You gonna get the worst expressions if you're like, okay Oscar, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, say cheese. (audience laughs) Yeah, you're gonna get something really bad. If he's having a good time, if he finds me to be likable and we're getting along, it's gonna be good and sometimes, it's not that, but it's not that hard. Great picture. (laughs) Perfectly illustrated my point, thank you. So you don't want something that looks unnatural. Go ahead, Cliff. Gary, would you mind just moving the reflector over off the background just for a comparison shot? Absolutely, happy to do it. We're gonna add one more reflector. Let me show you the power of the reflector. That's a really good thought. Okay, just nice and relaxed there for me Oscar. Here we go. Turn a little bit more this way. I want you to bring your hands down to your legs just a little, right there, perfect, and lean into me just a touch, perfect, and Yahtzee. This might come as a shock to you, but it's pretty dark. (laughs) Okay, check that out. You can adjust that. That is basically what this room would look like if I didn't fire the flash. Let's try this out, all the shadow side. The light is hitting the side of his face and everything else in the exposure is just what the room would look like. So let's turn the flash off and just take another picture, and we'll just go ahead and see this basic exposure is black. So anything that the light is not hitting is gonna be black. See, it's a marvelous exposure. You can barely, barely make him out in there if you really look. That's the ambient light in here. I have intentionally set my settings so that I filtered all that out 'cause if you don't filter that out, you're gonna be contending with trying to color balance this with your flash. So bare in mind that when you're lighting an image like this, you're carving the light out of nothing, out of complete blackness. So to start, we add our flash. Eww, I like that one, it's kind of dark and sexy. Let's reverse engineer this bad boy. Now we add our fill. Good, keep going. How'd that one look? Boom, that's a huge difference. Now, Megan, if I could borrow you one more time. Now we're gonna add our lighting underneath, like so. Thank you Megan, you're really awesome. I'll get a smaller light stand for tomorrow, and now we're gonna add our lighting for his eyes. Okay nice and relaxed so I can see your eyes Oscar. Yes, breathe, (inhales/exhales). Lean into me just a little bit, beautiful. Alright, is there a way to put those three back to back up, the last three images? I'd like to do that if we can 'cause I wanna show you the comparison of how we built this. Now let's just put those on screen, okay. Check me out, okay. Alright, there we go. We've got just the flash on its own with no fill, fill from the side, then you got fill underneath, and now even if you look at the image, you can even start to see some of the brown, the dark browns, like kind of gold highlights coming out in his eyes, and I've got light under the chin and the whole thing works, and the background because of all the light bouncing around from the reflectors is evenly lit, whereas in the first image, you can clearly see that there's darkness on the one side. (mumbles) you ever use the whiteboard (mumbles)? It's gonna depend. White for me is when I wanna get a balance and I don't wanna blow it out. Like I wouldn't use a super-silver reflector outside most of the time on a sunny day if I was trying to get a more natural look, but I love the silver, absolutely. I use it almost exclusively when I'm shooting this type of stuff, but again, you're gonna have to determine how you want it to look. It's all gonna be personal preference. With another light modifier with the see-through umbrella, how is that gonna change? Is it gonna be different? Yes, the shoot-through umbrella. Well, I think we had one around here, which I can show you the difference. The shoot-through umbrella is gonna be, it's a convex surface that you're shooting through. Thank you. Aw, that's a fancy one. Now what do you think the difference might be? One though, it's a larger light source. So it will get softer light, and then two, the light is gonna come out quite a bit differently and the light is less controlled. You have, whew, that was bad luck to open that indoors, and you have black basically keeping the light from spilling out the edges. Do you understand? So with this, you have light going backwards, going sideways. This light is gonna be less precise. In some cases, that's okay for it. There's a little more coverage, but I like the precision of this 'cause I'm lighting the face. This is a small light source. You can even see, if you look at the images, you can even seen kind of falloff on the edges as it goes down because it's such a small light source. So this is, what I'm gonna guess, is probably like a 33-inch umbrella. So you're gonna get a lot of light spilling down into the lap, into the shirt. If somebody's wearing a white shirt, this could actually blow it up. You also get more light on the background on one side. So it's a little less controlled, but you can manage it. It's absolutely doable. (mumbles) What's that? (mumbles) reflective umbrella? A reflective umbrella would actually be very similar to what you're getting here but the reflective umbrella, unless you put a cover over it like a diffusing screen, you can get those for them, it's gonna be very hot, like it's gonna be very specular, edgy. So you get hard shadows, stuff like that, depending on whether the inside of the umbrella is white or it's silver. Remember my mantra, use what you have and you can make it work. The principle here is that one light can light this whole portrait, and you could sit here and you could do this exact thing all day with one Speedlite, and you can get from SweetLight Systems these beautiful reflectors on these stands that are awesome or if you don't have the money to do that and you're just getting into it, you can go to Lowe's or Home Depot and you can get some reflective insulation board. You can use this, beautiful 20 x 20 from SweetLight Systems or you can use whatever umbrella that you can find. If you wanna staple a bedsheet to something, I mean use what you can use. Ultimately for me, my decision to use this stuff comes from the fact that one question that somebody asked me one time when I was teaching a very similar class to this was how do you get all this stuff in by yourself, I shoot by myself, I don't have an assistant? I take an assistant, but all of this, the light stands and everything, I can carry in by myself in one trip, very easily. It all collapses tiny. Like these reflectors collapse to about this size, and you shove them in a bag. That's all there is to it. So that's why I use it because portability. If you work alone, you can carry everything in all by yourself, super easy, easy to set up, easy to break down. Try getting in and out of a building with a 4 x 8 sheet of reflective insulation by yourself, without breaking it, you won't.

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