Headshots and working with other Photographers

Sometimes working as a photographer on your own is perfect for the job, othertimes it is really important to be able to work as part of a team and call in other photographers so that you can work together to support each other, co-ordinate shoots in a much shorter time span, work more creatively with lighting and to provide each up with all important back up – for that just in case scenerio that hopefully will never happen.

For the first of several headshot sessions with the Bournemouth and Boscome Light Opera Company, John was the main photographer, and I set up the lights, chatted to and directed the models and ensured that we got the shots as quickly as possible whilst their main rehersals carried on as normal, in what was a very limited space. This is the hall – we were limited to part of the stage, and had to borrow our subjects from the main rehersal room, working quietly and quickly so the rehersal was not disrupted too much.

The Rehersal Space

The main rehersal space – no room for us.

Working together meant that we had discussed the shoot before hand and chared ideas, so we set up the shoot with a clear brief in mind – grey backdrops, soft lighting, a little light behind the subject, a camera with a fixed focal length on a tripod to speed up the processing, and the heights of the models evened out by sitting everyone on a stool – it aslo meant that they were likely to move less in the space so easier to keep everything constant.

We aimed to have everyone slightly side onto the camera, yet at the same time to let them show some of their personality. We knew it was essential to get the shots right in camera so at the start of the shoot we checked the first images with the client, we checked focus on every shot, and we ensure that the subject was happy with the images chosen – indicating their preference with the Canon rating system.

Below you can see our small space and John showing various people the back of camera – the back of camera shots had to be right, they had to be correctly exposed as we planned to get the approval of the images there and then. On every shot, the camera preview was check – or chimped – and any alterations to lights were made – some faces needed slightly softer light than others, some of the ladies hair casted additional shadows, so together we were checking the back of camera and making the necessary changes.

A glimpse behind the scenes

Checking with the subject on their prefered image
Back of Camera Discussion

Settings and challenges

The headshots were all taken at ISO200, F2.8, 1/200 sec – with the main light from a large umbrella with a reflector on the floor to soften the light slightly, a flash behind the subject slightly and a flash on the back ground to lighten the background and help with the consistency – you can see a copy of John’s lighting diagram below.

The images consistenty have one catch light and the challenge in editing was ensuring that the grey was consistant – the challenge now is to recreate the same conditions to create the further headshots required to match these images and to edit the other photos required in the end publication, to make this process easier – John shared his work flow.

John’s Development workflow

  1. Use biggest head (must be png) as lightroom overlay
  2. Crop each (bit trial and error) to fit overlay (then have same size head crops.
  3. Pick a picture and do overall LR adjustments… sync all photos
  4. Adjust shadows to get matching grey backgrounds (by eye)
  5. Make radial and brush adjustments to heads as necessary i.e not changing background greys.
  6. Finally did a matt k adjustment (recorded an action) in photoshop to give a little pop. used PS action on each (used gaussian blur and blendif sliders in recorded action)
  7. Some needed photoshop clone brush etc.

The Matt K develope method is explained in the diagram to the left… I do not know the oringinal source for this… but you can find out more about Matt if you visit his web site: https://mattk.com

John’s Tips for next similar styled shoot are

  • Use a hollywood octo above, continuous led below to get focus. Our styles differ here, as I like the large umbrella, and would use ambient light for the focus and dial it out in camera.
  • Beauty dish for highlights
  • White reflector on floor also works
  • Flash from behind works as well as flash from side onto grey 1/128 power
  • Insist on getting in early get key
  • Instructions to people –  no bare arms all black or whatever tops, (but this depends on the overall look) –  make up and powder all (It was very hot where to were working and the people had a lot of shine!
  • 40 portraits aim sharp eyes softer face 100mm f2.8, iso 200, 1/200 (I would consider a wider aperture particular when I shoot the children’s images – to allow for movement and cause they have younger skin!)

Credit to John Wright of Grey Grey Photos for the individual headshots and editing – it is great to be able to work with you on large projects like these.

The hardest challenge is still ahead … photographing the dress rehersal and getting the shots process and delivered in time to be printed and ready for sell in the following afternoons matinee programme.

Again this is a great reason for photographers to work together -we have one chance to get the images required and turned around quickly, so working with a collegue help ensures that a range of angles are covered, and so the client is happy.