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Tips & Tricks

How You Shot It – Clean Headshot by Chris Holtmeier

By fotosiamo on August 28th 2012

Portrait by Chris Holtmeier

This is a shooting tutorial that was submitted by Chris Holtmeier in the SLR Lounge Forum.

SLR Lounge Thoughts

Shooting a clean, simple headshot may seem like a no-brainer, but what is really important here is knowing what kind of lighting works best with your subject and the intended use of the photo. In this photo, Chris utilized a combination of a beauty dish off-axis to add dimensionality with the shadows, and a reflector fill to keep the shadows very light. This softer light is a great look for a person of her age who wants to look vibrant and engaging, and for what she is going to use the photos for, which is for promo materials.

It is important to not only know your lighting, but also to know which specific lighting technique works best for which scenario. That is why we chose Chris’s lighting tutorial for this “How You Shot It” article.

Background and Vision

This is a headshot created for Kymi, a wonderful local artist. She wanted a clean look to use for the promo materials associated with her gallery works and speaking engagements.

How You Shot It

Camera: Canon 5D mkII
Lens: Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM Lens
Shutter: 1/200th sec
Aperture: F5.6
ISO: 100

Lighting Diagram

Lighting set-up was very simple. A 27″ beauty dish is set above and just off camera left, and a white reflector is placed camera right for fill. The background is just a white wall, blown pure white by a strobe with a 7″ reflector. Background strobe was directly behind her.

An X-rite ColorChecker was used for white balance and color profile, and the Lightroom 4 Preset System was used for post-production.

My name is Chris Holtmeier, and my site is Thanks, and let me know if you need any more info.

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, however, this does not impact accuracy or integrity of our content.

Joe is a fashion and commercial photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. He blends creativity and edge with a strong style of lighting and emotion in his photographs.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Ed Rhodes

    nice headshot

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  2. Wayne Renbjor

    And for those asking about this shot in particular, look at the catchlights in her eyes. The main light is to her right and up, looks like a 45. This also causes the shadow under her chin. Shadows like that look great on men but women should have a more even light. It shows more radiance. 

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  3. Wayne Renbjor

    As per advice from Peter Hurley, Lights should be either clam shell or if you are doing a setup like showin the the article, even with the ears.

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  4. Chris Holtmeier

    No grid or sock on the dish, as I wanted the spill to light the reflector. Dish was above the subject, facing down at an approximate 45 degree angle.

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  5. Eric Butler

    Grid or sock on the BD?

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  6. Victor Cao

    Very clean shot. Could you describe the vertical angle of the beauty dish?

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  7. Rob

    All I need now is a beauty dish. Will be a DIY from a Ikea foto lamp!

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