As a portrait photographer, you may have a task of shooting corporate headshots. It differs from traditional portrait sessions: you have much less time to get your models comfortable and to get the best shots. In this fantastic video, Sean Tucker shares his workflow and plenty of tips and tricks that will help you get into corporate headshot photography and be great at it.
Sean points out that, in the corporate headshot photography, it’s important to keep the balance between being very efficient and keeping the consistency of your shots. Here’s a basic breakdown of the video, but keep in mind that it’s 23 minutes long: so make sure to watch it in full.
Starting at 2:15, Sean shows you his setup for this type of photography. He uses white paper as a background because it’s the most common requirement for the corporate headshots. But you should check with the company what kind of a background they want.
The key light is at a 45-degree angle above to the left, but it can be tweaked later. There’s a reflector on the right to fill in the shadows on the opposite side of the subject’s face. There’s a strip box for rim light, and for the backlight, Sean shines a light into the background and it bounces back.
The camera and settings
Sean’s suggestions for camera settings are the following:
- ISO 100
- 1/125 s
Keep the flash sync speed in mind when setting the shutter speed to have the images lit properly. If you need to modify exposure without messing with the settings, you can use a variable ND filter.
The final prep
From 9:20, you can hear more about the final prep for the shots and watch the shooting process. Sean suggests that you have someone with you who will help you tweak the lights and assist you, especially for larger shoots.
Try out the lights one by one and tweak them so you don’t have any unwanted spills or hot spots. This is another thing where your assistant can help you. When this is done, use some gaff tape to mark the place where people have to stand when they walk into the room. This will help you keep the consistency with the lighting and framing.
With the lighting setup like Sean’s, you can have two different moods: a moodier Rembrandt light and a more even overhead light. You can make two markings on the floor and direct people where to stand depending on the lighting you want. This is useful because you can’t tweak the entire setup for each person who enters the room.
Now that everything’s set up – it’s time to shoot! From 16:21, you can watch the shooting process. It should be quick and efficient, yet you should maintain the consistency and quality of your photos. Get people to walk in and direct them where to stand and how to pose their body. The quickest way to do it is by having them to mirror your moves. It’s precise, and it can also relax them a bit.
Have your subjects stand straight, slightly rotated towards the light. You’ll probably have someone who will blink a lot, and Sean shares a trick for that. Have them close their eyes and count: 3, 2, 1. When they open their eyes, wait for half a second and take the shot.
Let your subjects show more than just one expression. Photograph their serious expressions, but also let them smile a bit. Sean suggests that you let them choose their headshots instead of you choosing them. At slower-paced shoots, you can tether shoot and let them choose. If you need to move faster, give them the camera to have a look and make their selection. When they pick out the best shot, have them write their full name and the number of the photo and take a photo of them holding this paper. This way you’ll know for sure who chose which image once you import them into Lightroom.
With a workflow like this, you can spend only around two minutes per person, and still keep the consistency of your shots. Of course, you can add some tricks of your own and adjust the workflow to your needs and preferences. But if you’re just starting out with this type of photography, I think Sean’s tutorial is more than useful to get you started and help you perform the best you can.
[How to Shoot Corporate Headshot Photography | Sean Tucker]