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Amy (Professional Headshot)
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Amy (Professional Headshot)

Hi all,
I am new to this area of photography as a wedding/sports guy but I am getting more requests for professional headshots (LinkedIn, etc.). Most of these requests are for on-location shoots with some kind of vaguely corporate looking background. Nevertheless, my experience with OCF is mostly limited to wedding receptions and family formals (where I want pretty flat lighting anyway).

Shot info: Canon 200mm f/1.8L shot at f/3.2, Canon 1DX, ISO 1250 for ambient, 1/160, handheld
Edits: Some basic LR adjustments
Lighting: 3 600 EX-RTs shot through a 45'' Westcott camera right about 30 degrees off axis

Any thoughts for improvement here in this setting? My biggest personal critique is the hotspots on the face. I have a few other areas for critique too if you all would be so kind:
(i) How do you studio guys avoid the hotspots? Light source further back and on a little higher power?
(ii) Is the DOF sufficient for this purpose?
(iii) How is the posing? FWIW she is a corporate attorney so happy/personable but also strong/confident are both important for the shot.
(iv) Do I need a hair/rim light in the future for this shot?

While my friend is very happy, I will be doing more of these in the future and would love to improve.

Thank you, any comments/critiques are greatly appreciated!

Aug 06, 2017 at 05:12 PM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Amy (Professional Headshot)

Hi there. It looks you're in a place with lots of available light. If that's the case, why add a flash? Natural light is probably in your wheelhouse, and this would work well with that. The flash is providing a nice shadow that outlines the chin well.

I'll address your questions. The hotspots are not created by the lights, bur rather by the reflective surface. Her makeup foundation is too shiny/reflective. It happens. And when it does, I clean it all up in post.

DOF is good by me, but you'll get 100 different responses from 100 photogs. Find your way.

Posing is okay, I'd just turn her left shoulder more toward the camera. There are literally hundreds of ways to go the posing.

Some people do a hair/rim light. If her hair was dark and the background was dark, then I'd definitely do it. In this scene, no need for it.

I"d clean her hair up, but I'd rather do it before I took the shot. And then just fix the hotspots, and you'll be in pretty good shape.

Aug 06, 2017 at 05:30 PM

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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Amy (Professional Headshot)

Good points from the previous post. On hot spots, you can underexpose the shot a bit which takes care of the make-up issue, and add some brightness in post to just the face. The pose should be at a 45 degree angle (flatter to the camera). No rim light needed. I always use a flash to add the catch lights in the eyes. The DOF is good, but the circles above her head are distracting. A slight move to her left would solve that. I'd take a few different shots with various smiles. The big, friendly smile may not be as professional for an attorney as a 60% smile.

Aug 06, 2017 at 07:22 PM
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Amy (Professional Headshot)

kill the hexes

and do a little de-wrinkling in post before she sees it...

a less busy backgnd might be good

I agree re the L. shoulder also

she's happy - but wait until you tell her "I can make you look even better!"

Aug 06, 2017 at 07:56 PM
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Amy (Professional Headshot)

You've gotten good comments so far. To me, on my calibrated monitor, she looks a little red, but since she looks like a natural ginger, that may be her complexion. Perhaps a little desaturation of the skin would help.

Aug 06, 2017 at 09:20 PM
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Amy (Professional Headshot)

I agree with all but especially Ron's comments about the need of a flash. It has produced "hot spots" on her face/nose that are distracting.
I am not in anyway competent on credible advice on portrait photography but as a viewer those hot spots do take away from her face, nose,teeth.
Good luck!

Aug 07, 2017 at 01:01 PM

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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Amy (Professional Headshot)

I agree with the first comment. I would probably reduce the power of the speedlite to reduce the highlight. But otherwise, looks good to me.

Aug 17, 2017 at 02:30 PM
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Amy (Professional Headshot)

I agree with Ron. The eyes seem to show that you used a key light and a fill? So two lights? Fill directly over camera? As Ron brought up I to can't understand why when the natural/available light looks to be of a really good quality. Also the farther you move the strobe lights from the subject the harsher the light becomes. Next time I would have her remove the watch to.

Aug 19, 2017 at 02:08 AM
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Amy (Professional Headshot)

Ron's comment about the shoulder is spot on. Whatever is nearest to the camera will look the biggest. Her right shoulder is almost as big as her face. It's sometimes called football shoulder by portrait photographers. By turning her a bit more straight on to the camera, you make the shoulder smaller and the face more prominent.

A couple other minor issues. I would have crossed the arms with the right arm on top. The way it is now, the fingers come out of nowhere and look like someone is grabbing her arm from underneath. There was an old science fiction movie called "The Hand" where this dismembered hand would crawl around and show up on someone's shoulder, etc. It also happens when someone puts their arm around a person and the hand shows up on the other side. That's something to avoid.

Sometimes you can also avoid hot spots by feathering the light from the softbox a bit. Some softboxes have a hot center and more even light toward the edges.

Finally, in most portraits it good to avoid bright spots in the background. The eye automatically goes to the brightest spot on the image and if that's something other than the face, the viewer is somewhat distracted from the subject. The big bright patch (camera right) competes for the viewer's attention. If you can tone that down in post, you'll see how it places more emphasis on the subject.

Very nice first attempt and yes there are a lot of little things to remember when doing portraits, but they will become second nature with practice.

Aug 19, 2017 at 01:37 PM
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Amy (Professional Headshot)

Also if you have her shoulders turned slightly more square to camera it creates a more solid base. I have no problem with the way the arms are crossed. Your mind, because it knows what it is seeing, fills it in and those things are minor supporting players with the face being the star. I would watch the fingers on her left hand(they are in the lower left side of the frame). I usually have my clients make a fist so the fingers don't stick out at the bottom.

Aug 19, 2017 at 02:04 PM
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Amy (Professional Headshot)

You are asking for direction in improving your results. This is certainly a very saleable portrait. She has great expression, her features are nicely drawn thanks to the 200mm lens and the background is very nicely blurred. This is really all a matter of taste and you will find as many opinions as there are photographers opining. So please don't take my thoughts here as gospel. It's just my opinion. I'm looking at the shadow edges in your portrait. They look as if the subject received direct light from your flash. Even if the light was farther away, I wouldn't expect the strong texture in her skin. I would suggest moving the light in closer, maybe 36" to 48" away and be sure that there is diffusion between the flash and the subject. A second piece of diffusion material can be mounted in most of the modifiers I have seen. You have 3 flashes, so power is certainly not the issue. 100ws in most any modifier = about f/8 @ ISO 100 and about 48" distance from the front of the diffuser to the subject. Most small flashes are running about 50ws at full power. I would also be sure that the flashhead is zoomed out as wide as possible. The softer light will reduce the skin texture as well as the intensity of hot spots such as is on her forehead. The softness of the light is inversely proportional to its size and distance from the subject. You can also apply some negative clarity with the adjustment brush in post which would soften the skin texture, but I think you will get more pleasing results by moving your light in closer and being sure it is adequately diffused. Your DOF is very nice for this subject. Some photographers like to use a reflector low reflecting back up into the eyes. This is called clamshell light and it is very flattering for female subjects. I think your posing is quite nice, maybe turn her left shoulder a little more toward the camera. I think you're off to a very nice start.

Aug 21, 2017 at 12:56 AM

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