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Lighting for a Headshot: a Simple and Inexpensive Technique

By Anthony Thurston on March 28th 2014

Two lights and a Reflector. That is all you need to create stunning headshots that will wow your clients and bring you new business. No need for huge expensive Kinoflow lights like what Peter Hurley had made his name with, using just 2 speedlights you can create an effective setup for headshots.


Levy Moroshan is a Portland, Oregon based photographer, and one of his many specialties is headshots. He put together this very informative video on how he lights his headshots and produces his unique style, check it out:

In the video, Levy is using his Einstein lights, but he does mention that when he started out he used speedlights instead. So, as you can see, the light source is interchangeable. Its about getting the right exposure and light placement.

[REWIND: The Secret to a Strong Headshot]

Gear Mentioned In Video

This is a simple and effective lighting setup for headshots that is not only inexpensive, but really easy to replicate. So give it a try, play with it and use it to help develop your own unique style.

What are your thoughts on this headshot lighting setup? Do you use something similar? What would you do differently? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!


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Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Tay

    So glad i found this because, although I love his style and will use it from time to time, Peter Hurley disciples are everywhere. I like what you’re doing. Your style is great for corporate stuff too.

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  2. Allen

    Great Post!!! Was wondering what company you get your speckled muslin from?

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    • Levy Moroshan

      The muslin was from Wescott. It was actually a random one I found on ebay and liked the look. I knew I could warm it up with a gel so color wasn’t that big of an issue.

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  3. Warren

    Personally, I like a hair light to separate the sittter’s head from the background. I also light with a soft box from above and side with a reflector on the other side to throw some light into shadows. I also always shoot portrait format. I’ve seen a lot of headshots using landscape format. Is this an American preference?

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  4. Jason

    Can I ask what you are using for a background? Also, its a little hard to tell the actual color, looks dark gray.

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    • Levy Moroshan

      I normally use Savage thunder grey paper or a darker grey speckled painted backdrop. It seems easier to get the warm tones I like when I gel the lights. It’s a little different when using a white background and trying to gel for that.

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  5. Tom Bove

    Great set up but the skin tones are just too yellow for me.

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  6. Jamie

    Very good tutorial. Can’t wait to try out this setup.

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  7. Mike Parker

    Great video! Thanks for sharing. I have just one question – how far from the wall is the model? Looks to be about 5 feet or so?

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    • Levy Moroshan

      Just over 5′ feet usually. Enough room so that the subject isn’t bumping up against the strobe. Also, the closer the strobe is to the background the more drastic the vignette. The further the softer. I adjust it based on my tastes.

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  8. Valters

    This is mine plastic plates + mirror tape, on wood frame, works GREAT.

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