Lighting Setup for the Time Magazine Person of the Year Cover Photo

Every year, Time Magazine releases a Person of the Year issue that features a person who has influenced the events of that year. These are great opportunities for fellow photographers to showcase their wisdom and talent in their craft, at the same time allowing the rest of us to learn about what it takes to create cover-worthy images for esteemed brands and companies:

Photographer Greg Heisler worked with Time’s former design director Arthur Hochstein’s idea to capture Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono in a heroic light, with an effect similar to the design of Mount Rushmore. Keeping all their heads the same size and in focus were some of the challenges Heisler faced.

time magazine cover bono

Once he was able to address those concerns, he ran into another in the form of Bono’s head, if you would believe. Heisler initially planned for Bono to be in front, then Bill Gates and then Melinda Gates, but that setup (aka Bono’s “bison head”) wasn’t too flattering on the overall effect of the photo. After a quick switch-around, the final portrait shows Bill Gates on the left, Bono in the middle and Melinda Gates on the right.

lighting setup time magazine cover

A narrow beam reflector with a grid and CTO on it for that ‘sunny’ effect was positioned towards the back. A soft box was also positioned about three quarters to front, and finally, another strip soft box was positioned underneath the subjects to give them some height.

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