About a month ago, I was shooting headshots for an actor in fort greene park. We were doing my usual schtick, which is to walk around outside and find cool textures and colors to shoot against. Natural light has been my preference for headshots since I started shooting them professionally. It’s easy to work with natural light, but due to the inherent changing nature of it, it’s sometimes hard to get the same results over and over again. Plus its cold outside in the winter months, and nobody wants to be photographed outside when its 15 degrees and windy.
So I started thinking about what I could do to maybe avoid both of those issues altogether and came back around to indoor studio lighting. Don’t get me wrong, I love flashes and light modifiers. It’s what got me into photography in the first place. The ability to sculpt light is akin to a painter getting to pick his color palette. But for the longest time I didn’t think artificial lighting could work for headshots because either it wasn’t soft enough, or the flashes going off would be distracting, or the size of the light source just wouldn’t be big enough for the look I wanted. I’m happy to say that after about 4 days straight of tinkering and futzing with lights I’ve found a solution that I love and is compact enough to fit in my closet.
This new look for headshots is great for actors, because it sticks out (in a good way). There are so many natural light photographers whose work looks the same, and therefore makes an actors headshot look the same as the 20 others in the pile in front of the casting director. I’m very confident that this new look will get actors called in simply by being different. If we spend 2 hours nailing a certain expression on top of that, it’s going be an amazing image every time.
The new setup really allows me to spend more time lighting the face and telling a story, instead of worrying about weather, location and a myriad of other things. Anything I can do to streamline the work to let me focus on the subject is a huge win in my book. I’ve updated the actor headshot page with these new photos. Enjoy and never stop trying improve your own processes.