Photographer Jana Williams takes us outdoors to shoot a headshot session using natural light and in the process shares some simple tips to improve our headshots:
1. Use a handheld light meter
If you’re a natural light photographer, this is one investment that’s guaranteed to give you returns for a really long time. When using a hand-held light meter, such as the one that Williams is using, point the white dome thingy face forward and held against a dark area of the frame.
Dial in the aperture and ISO values that you have set on your camera and the light meter gives you the shutter speed that’s going to give you a good exposure.
1. Set your aperture to f/2.8
Williams suggest using an aperture of f/2.8. That’s what she sets on her 85mm lens. This allows her to get features like the eyes sharp with a slight bit of background blurring. This might sound a bit too authoritative; you’re free to change it around according to your needs. This is neither right nor wrong, just one way to shoot headshots.
2. Set the right ISO
Williams set the ISO on her camera at 250. Why? Because it’s overcast.
3. Pick the right lens
Picking the right lens is imperative. Williams’s go to lens is the Canon 85mm f/1.8. It’s fast, sharp, and cheap. Couldn’t ask for anything better if you’re just starting out.
4. Use a reflector
Use a reflector or white board, not only for some additional light but also to serve as the catchlight in the model’s eyes.
Headshots are typically three-quarters up, so a little bit of posing can help. Here, Williams focuses on the model’s hands. Tucking them inside the pockets of her jeans gets a nice shape going.
And, finally, when you have everything going for you, milk it. Get horizontal and vertical shots and every other perspective that you think you can use. There’s nothing worse than getting everything perfect and then walking away with just a couple of frames.
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