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Shooting Low Key Modern Headshots for Extraction

Lesson 29 from: The Business of Professional Headshots

Gary Hughes

Shooting Low Key Modern Headshots for Extraction

Lesson 29 from: The Business of Professional Headshots

Gary Hughes

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Lesson Info

29. Shooting Low Key Modern Headshots for Extraction


Class Trailer

Class Overview


Getting Headshot Clients


Headshot Pricing Models for Individuals


Headshot Pricing Models for Groups and Companies


Payment and Delivery for Groups


Six Styles of Business Headshots


Headshot Lighting Gear


Posing Basics for Headshots


Basic Standing Pose for Headshots


Basic Seated Pose for Headshots


Head Position for Headshots


Expression Sells the Image


One-Light High Key Headshot with Male Model


One-Light High Key Headshot with Female Model


Two-Light High Key Headshot with Male Model


Two-Light High Key Headshot with Female Model


Two-Light Standing Pose Headshot with Male Model


Two-Light Standing Pose Headshot with Female Model


One Light Low Key Headshot with Male Model


Two Light Low Key Headshot with Female Model


General Q&A


Constant Light: Low Key Classic Headshot with Male Model


Constant Light: Low Key Classic Headshot with Female Model


Constant Light: Standing Pose Headshot with Male Model


Constant Light: Standing Pose Headshot with Female Model


Setting up the Background for Extraction Shoot


Shooting for Extraction Headshot with Male Model


Shooting for Extraction Headshot with Female Model


Shooting Low Key Modern Headshots for Extraction


Basic Headshot Facial Retouching Techniques


Basic Headshot Eye Retouching Techniques


Basic Headshot Retouching Techniques: Dodge and Burn


Basic Headshot Retouching Q&A


Extracting a Single Subject


Creating a Headshot Composite


F-Type Headshot Lighting: Equipment and Principle


F-Type Headshot Lighting: Execution


Shooting Headshots in Volume


Lesson Info

Shooting Low Key Modern Headshots for Extraction

So now we're going for a much more modern look. But because the light is so close and so large, your going to see a really sharp fall-off around the edges, right? But here's the thing, this'll also be super easy to cut out. Thanks, I'll take that, that's cool, thanks Lacey, alright. (equipment clanking) But now you've got a really really great look that's easy to replicate. (footsteps) (metal taps floor) Now we're going to bring Oscar back up here and do the same thing. And this is a good opportunity to be able to give your clients a couple of different styles. And all I did was move the light around and change the ISO, and they'll be able to choose from two completely different looks for their website or whatever they're going to be using it for. (metal tapping) Get out of here, and just in case anybody asks when I'm doing composite like this, I typically almost always will do standing rather than sitting. (footsteps) Okay, one of the reasons is because you can't show the difference i...

n height as accurately when somebody's sitting. If I photograph 10 people sitting, it could be a totally different show than 10 people standing, and I want them to look like themselves in the photo. Okay. (shutter clicks) So add a little reflector just to take some of the edge off the edge there. Oh, that's perfect. Okay you ready? Okay, I want you to relax your hands down at your sides. Good, turn your head a little bit this way. There we go, let's do one. (shutter clicks) Tilt the head a touch that way, small smile, ready go. (shutter clicks) Perfect. Tilt the head this way, boom. (shutter clicks) By now she's sort of already knows, by the time you get somebody trained, it's time for them to go, isn't that terrible. Alright, perfect, I want you to turn this way for me. Excellent, point that right toe right at me. Turn your head a little bit this way, there you go, perfect. (shutter clicks) One, and two. (shutter clicks) Tilt this way a touch, good. (shutter clicks) Boom. And this way, there you go. (shutter clicks) Good, let's close. Bam, yeah there you go. You're closing one. (shutter clicks) Turn your head this way just a touch. Good, two (shutter clicks) Alright, and now I want you to drop your left arm and put your right arm on your hip, right hand on your hip, rather, there you go, perfect. Two (shutter clicks) Perfect, good we're going to turn this way, excellent. And we're going to close, exactly. Turn your head this way a touch. One. (shutter clicks) Good, tilt the top of your head that way. Tilt your head a little bit like that. And two. (shutter clicks) Perfect, okay drop your right arm, put your left hand on your hip. Learn to speak in lefts and rights for them, (laughs) not camera left and right. It's going to get a little confusing. Turn your head this way a little bit, good. (shutter clicks) Boom. Alright, loved that, alright, and now just relax at your sides, perfect. And turn your head this way a little bit. (shutter clicks) And tilt like that. There you go, turn a little that way. (shutter clicks) Boom, you got it. Okay, piece of cake, thank you Shawnie. Way to go, alright. Oscar, you're up dude. So what I'm doing is basically, just to recap, is I am taking these photos from multiple different angles for the person because I want to give myself some options when I have to put these in the same image later. We had some questions about flyaway hairs. Yes. On, more likely on women, and in terms of these images, are you paying close attention to make it easier for you later with the actual extractions? You can totally do that. Or will we see you working on that? That's a really good question. No matter what you do, you're going to have some kind of flyaway hairs, especially when you're extracting. But the way that I'm going to show you how to extract, it's not going to be a problem. You'll be able to keep the ones you want, and get rid of the ones you don't want. Everybody cool with that? Yeah it's a really great question. They are definitely something you gotta contend with, but you want to extract to the point, like in this last image, where you're going to be able to get this cleanly get this cleanly out of the image. You're going to be able to pull that completely out. There's going to be no problem, you just run, literally I know I said there's not a magic wand. For this there's a magic wand. You will literally be able to see every single hair and transfer it all. There's going to be no awkward weird feathering around it. I mean everything, it's going to come out (clicks fingers) just like that. And so, good question. I'm going to answer that in the next segment. Cool? Cool. We are looking forward to that. One more question that came in about extraction. Can you extract a full body, so you ever doing this full body shots? Yes, absolutely. If I was-- I'd more often than not, in this situation I will be doing head shot to medium length and a full-length extraction. I do that very often. What I will typically do is I will use seamless paper or a psych wall, and you're going to have to use obviously going to have a lot of room to do that with. I will typically shoot those at about 50 millimeters, with a fixed lens, do this exactly the same way, but you're going to need more light to light the bottom half of the person. So I will use a larger light source, in some cases I will use a large umbrella. Like I have an 86 inch parabolic umbrella with a diffuser over it which we're going to use later this afternoon in the final segment. So you'll actually get to see that. That would be exactly what I would use. Something that's going to light the whole body from head to toe. Because if you're using something in this style you're going to have a very sharp fall-off of light. Another way is you could take a soft box that's larger than this, like a four by six, and use it vertically. I tend to favor horizontal because I shoot mostly head shots. And you could easily just use a soft box like this three by four vertically, and then that would give you a four foot light, which would enable you to light something full length pretty easily. Cool? Alright. Alright, Oscar, looking good. Let me just get that (whistling) right there, got you in there. Okay, so lets do a test real quick. (shutter clicks) I think everything should be mostly the same. (breathes out forcefully) That looks great, okay awesome. Alright, so tilt your head a little bit that way. Chin down a touch, there we go, one. We're a real estate agent. (laughs) (shutter clicks) Hey, perfect, two, that looks awesome. (shutter clicks) Ready, okay. I want you to turn this way for me, good alright. Alright, just put your feet together, relax, normal. Alright, good, and then point that left toe at me. Good, there you go, you got it. Turn your head a little bit this way, yeah just so. Perfect, one. (shutter clicks) And two. (shutter clicks) Good, give me a little tilt that way, alright, three. Relax those shoulders just a touch for me, there you go. (shutter clicks) Boom. Awesome, love that, good. I want you to open up you body a little bit this way. Turn with me this way, yeah there you go, perfect, just like that, a little bit, bah right there, perfect, you got it, thanks man. One. (shutter clicks) And two (shutter clicks) Good, you ready to close? Let's close. (laughs) Good, relax the shoulders a little when you're closing. Perfect, one. (shutter clicks) And two, this guy is a closer. (shutter clicks) Awesome, alright Oscar I want you to turn this way for me please. Good, point that right toe at me, good. Alright, we're still closing. I want you to un-hunch just a little bit, there you go, perfect, and lean towards me just a touch, there you go. One, alright. (shutter clicks) Two, tilt a little this way. Two. (shutter clicks) Alright, let's bring the arms down. Put those thumbs in the pockets there, nice and relaxed. Yeah that's good, perfect, one. (shutter clicks) And two. (shutter clicks) Alright, perfect. That's a piece of cake, how we doing with the 55, awesome. Alright cool, that's all the shooting that I need to do for extraction. So if we have more questions on that. I just want to recap everything that we did up to this point and then we can take some questions. Oscar you're great, thanks very much. Okay, so what you want to remember the most, first things first, very deep dept of field. Has to be sharp from the front to the back. I know that it's very very popular to shoot a shallow depth of field. I do it myself all the time, but if you're planning to extract the image, if the intent is to remove it, you have to have a depth of field where everything is sharp from the front to the back or you're going to have a heck of a time cutting something out of the background. The other is don't necessarily think that you have to use a green screen or a blank white wall. It's going to depend on the subjects and their coloring and what they're wearing. If they had all been wearing light gray, this would have been a totally different situation. I would have had to use a different color. But I want to pick a neutral gray background somewhere in that tonal range that is going to give me enough contrast where I'm going to be able to pull them off the background very easily. Now that being said, when we get back to the camera position, remember that you don't want to change the distance, the focal length, the settings on the camera, everything has to be the same for each person. For example though, one thing you could change, is if they were radically different in height, you could adjust the height of the light a little bit so that the light is the same on the next person as it was on the last, but you don't want to adjust the power of anything. Everything has to be largely the same, okay? Any other questions, because I'd love to take some ques-- because I know that there's probably things that everybody needs to clarify. Great, and let us know in the studio audience if you have any. Can you tell us again, or maybe we can even pull it out here, show us what you put on the background there when we-- Yeah, let's do that. When we needed a little bit more light onto the wall. Okay, ba-dum-ba-dum. (Clicks) There we go. (cord slams) Okay. I just use a Alien Bee, B 800. This is all what I've been using for the edge lights, and the main light is an Alien Bee B, B 16 hundred. These are really great lights, really versatile. And this is a tiny little stand that we've put it on, just so that it wasn't sitting on the floor. This is a really really useful little thing to have. Also there's a cone here, this comes with them, I think, they come with one of these. You can also buy, which is really useful, there is, like a scoop that looks like a Jai-Alai glove, you know, like, that actually will shield it one side and only shoot out the background, which is really cool. And I have one of those at my studio. I use it all the time. But in a pinch, this works just fine. And I was just trying to raise the color of that background so that there was a little more contrast between her gray dress and the gray background. Cool? Great. Let's see, so we do have a question from Amy Connor that says, any way to tone down the highlights on the face, or are you going to do that in Photoshop? Absolutely, you can adjust your exposure (laughs) if you want to. I probably over shot it just a little bit. It is a little hard to tell in here between what's coming up on the screen and what's coming in on the camera. Also, it depends on what you're watching this on at home. So it could look a little overexposed or underexposed. It looks okay to me as I'm shooting it, and the truth will come out in the next segment when we actually pull these up with the computer. And yes, typically if I've got everything else lit the way I want it and I'm still getting a lot of specular highlights on the face, at that point I will actually have makeup added to it in order to reduce those. But I can actually show you, I will show you as part of the retouching, how to reduce those specular highlights in Photoshop without making it look fake. Can you talk a little bit about what you mean by specular highlights and specularity? I saw that question Great question. come in earlier. We talked a little bit about it. The two main types of lighting when you talk about lighting the face, the two ways to describe lighting. You've heard it, light described as being harsh, or hard, or soft. The basic terminology of those is specular, which is going to be that sharp, sparkly light, like a disco ball, is specular light. It's just sharp little shards of light shooting everywhere. Diffused light is light that's going to be bouncing off something, passing through something, that's going to make it softer, and easier to look at. The main light that you're using on somebody's face is going to be diffused, for the most part, when you're doing work like this. You want it to be diffused so that it's soft and that it makes everybody look good. Hard light is really tough on people, and sometimes if you're, with the right kind of portrait harsh lighting can be really good. But what happens is, even when you're using diffused lighting, you tend to realize that the skin and the oil on the skin is a partially reflective surface. So when you see a specular highlight, what you're actually seeing is the reflection of your light in that person's forehead. And so, the oils on the skin tend to show that back. And that's really what makeup does is it turns the face from a reflective surface into a matte surface, so that your lights aren't shown on the skin. That's important and that we call those specular highlights when you start to see those sharpness on the skin, and the reflection of the lights.

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