What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “corporate headshots”? If you’re like photographer Aaron Nace, you think of words like boring, traditional, stale, stiff, or forced. But it doesn’t have to be that way. See how Nace combines editorial style with corporate style to make great headshots:
This headshot lighting setup tutorial demonstrates how to create modern headshots that give a real picture of the subject while still being suitable for use on websites and corporate materials. The subjects are well-dressed, upbeat, and professional, but they appear more genuine than they might in a more traditional headshot.
For this style, Nace starts with a classic set: a grey seamless backdrop behind a subject seated on a stool. The lighting, however, is less traditional. He prefers to use one main light to light the subject from the front. For this, he uses a medium octobox directly in front of and above the subject. Lighting from above creates shadows under the eyes and chin, so he also uses a V-flat to produce fill light. The V-flat consists of two 4′ x 8′ sheets of white foamcore with two Einstein E640 Flash Units fired into it: one positioned low and one positioned high. The light bounces back onto the subject to fill in the shadows. Another light with a 7-inch reflector is pointed at the bottom of the seamless backdrop to produce a glow.
Typical corporate headshots are usually taken quickly, so, more often than not, they result in fake, uninspiring smiles. To get shots with relaxed, natural expressions, Nace gets out from behind the camera. He uses a Pocketwizard as a remote trigger for his camera so he can interact and connect with his client during the photo shoot. This way, the subject doesn’t feel as if he or she is on stage in front of a robot. They’re conversing with the photographer, who is chatting casually and using breathing exercises to calm his subjects.
Melding style, lighting technique, camera settings, and comfortable client interaction results in flattering professional headshots that give a sense of personality.
“People, when they’re a little bit calm, they tend to give you…who they really are. So we help people to get to that place.”