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Tips & Tricks

3 In 1 Headshot Method | Great Headshots Anywhere With Minimal Gear

By Holly Roa on April 1st 2017

We as photographers are prone to thinking that more gear equals more versatility, and getting that new gadget will open up a new world for us. While the new gadgets can offer us some new possibilities, their acquisition is far from the only solution – there are many ways to do more with less. This video from Jeff Carpenter of Ready Light Media is a perfect example, demonstrating three different headshot looks using only:

These setups can be changed very quickly and can maximize variety in a session when you’re a pressed for time.

First, Jeff uses the MagBounce mounted on a DigiBee strobe behind the model, aimed at the background, to make the gray background appear white. The key is the 35″ octabox without the grid in place, situated at about a 45-degree angle from the subject and tilted down.

Two very simple changes make this look quite different in a matter of minutes. Simply remove the background light and put the grid on the octabox. The grid eliminates spill onto the background, and with no light hitting it, it appears black.

Then, remove the grid, move the model back toward the backdrop, and reposition the key light to maximize spill onto the backdrop and to maintain the same distance from light to model as in the previous two shots. Now, you have a third option with slightly different lighting and a gray background.

So you see, in a small space with just a few pieces of equipment, you can quickly and easily accomplish three distinct looks in a headshot session.

A few more notes on the gear used: the camera and lens combination used was a Nikon D800e with a Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D. The Paul C. Buff strobes used, while an inexpensive choice for those of us in the United States, are not the best option internationally so here are a few alternatives:


What are your favorite ways to make the most of the gear you have?

via fstoppers

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Seattle based photographer with a side of videography, specializing in work involving animals, but basically a Jill of all trades.
Instagram: @HJRphotos

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Bill Bentley

    Technique is fine, but the shooting stages are mixed up. Softbox grid off, then on, then off again? Why not shoot the shot with grid on first. This way you avoid having to waste time putting a grid on while the client waits & watches. 

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