Shooting against a white background is usually a safe bet for headshots. It’s clean, simple, and makes cutting out your subject and placing them over another background in Photoshop fairly simple. The downside, of course, is actually have to set up a white seamless backdrop. Typically, setting up seamless paper on background stands takes up a lot of space and honestly, can take a lot of time and effort that you might not have when in the field. So, what’s one to do if they need to shoot in front of a white background, but don’t have the space or time? Bust out a large softbox!
I have to say I’m impressed with how easy this technique is, and personally, never even thought of doing this before. Gavin keeps it simple with a very large square softbox behind his subject, metered one stop above his main light to create an all white background. From there, it’s just simple lighting with a main light in a octabox, camera right, about 45 degrees to the subject and metered for f/11, giving Gavin the depth of field that he wanted. This creates a simple white background, and great lighting for his subject.
Now, you might think he did some crazy Photoshop magic to achieve the final image, but honestly he didn’t. To achieve an all white background using a RAW file, he increased his white levels, making sure the background was indeed pure white. Next, he cropped the image tightly and finally, he converted the image to black and white, making contrast adjustments to suit his taste. Simple and beautiful!
I love simple and easy to understand techniques like this. It is not a technique I would say you should use all the time (I still prefer a real seamless background). If you were in a pinch though, Gavin shows us you can create a very nice, clean image using a softbox as your background. Best part is that the amount of gear you need is minimal, and there is a good chance you already have the soft boxes and light modifiers needed to create an image like this.
Images captured via screen grab