This project was a unique way of using studio lighting to create professional headshots. I was asked to take headshots for almost 60 firefighters at a local fire department. Not only did I get to meet the men and women who protect our community and sacrifice so much so that we can sleep safely at night but I was able to stretch my skills in the studio. Recreating a photo over and over again certainly means you have a bit of technical know-how.
One of the requirements was all the headshots should have the same pose and the same lighting. This meant I had to recreate each headshot so that they all looked as if they were taken on the same day. I used a couple of techniques to do this; none of which are hard.
The first headshot I used to calibrate my camera settings and the lighting. I spent a bit of extra time to make sure I had the lighting correct, the subject positioned where I wanted them to get the desired effect and I made sure that my ISO, aperature and focal length gave me what I wanted.
I didn’t use a flash for this particular project, but I did use two large soft boxes; one on each side of the subject and slightly above them, facing on a downward angle. This gives a relatively even lighting over their faces without harsh shadows or flat light. I did position the lights in such a way as to hit more directly on the right side of the subjects and a bit more indirectly on the left side to provide a bit of depth.
Once I had the lighting and my camera dialed in, I just marked with tape where the lights were and wrote down my settings – now I could go back whenever I had another session and recreate the setup. It did help having a room with no windows or outside lighting to affect the outcome.
Overall, the level of creativity on this job was relatively low; it was more of a technical problem to solve so I didn’t play around too much with lighting to get more interesting effects. I used my 70-200mm f/2.8 set at 3.2, shutter speed around 1/200, focal length of 70-90mm and an ISO around 100-300.