The Actor Headshot

I tried something a little different for this client.  With actors, you have the freedom to play around with lighting and personality a little more.  A corporate headshot, not so much.  So… when Mike contacted me to do his portraits, I got a little creative.  I loved the results.

I could totally picture his as a character on a comedy sitcom!

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Beginners guide to getting off automatic…

* F Stop -  The lower the number the more light gets into the camera.  Also, the shallower debth of field so… if you want lots of light or a blurry background, use the smallest number possible.

Things to remember, close up larger groups need to be shot at a higher number or the people on the edges will not be in focus.  If you need the light, the other option it so stand further away from the group at the lower setting.

Think of your lens like a target.  If you use a single point focus that point is your center of the target.  A small number is a small target.  The bigger your number the bigger the target.

* Shutter, anything below the number 60 on the dial becomes difficult to hold still.  Your heartbeat will be enough to take away the sharpness of the image.   Kids playing and you don’t want it blurry… make your shutter speed a priority, 150 or higher!

This is your quickest and easiest setting to adjust when you are close to the correct exposure or the light is changing like a setting sun or a cloud floating in front of the sun.

* ISO – adjusts how sensitive your sensor is to light.  Think to remember, images will start to appear grainy as the number gets higher.

Bright space = lower number / Dark space = higher number


When you are setting up a shot try choosing your settings in this order.

ISO = Think about your hard rules when you are about to take a pic and walk yourself through your settings.  If you are like me and don’t like noise/graininess then leave your ISO at 400 or less.   Unless you are outside in broad daylight, 400 is a good place to start anyway.   (sometimes at events a constant popping flash can be distracting.  Sometimes it’s just necessary to bump up the ISO.  If you choose this route you can use the noise reduction feature in lightroom.)

FStop = Do you want to background blurry? Are you shooting 3 or more people?  Are people moving or holding still for a portrait.  How big do you need your target to be?  5.6 is a great place to start.

Shutter Speed = If you use this technique then your should just match your shutter speed to the above 2 settings.  Choose whatever will give you the correct exposure.

Trouble shooting work backwards up this list…

EXAMPLE:  With the correct exposure my shutter is under 60…  I want it higher to freeze motion and need it at least at 150.  Adjust to 150 but now my images is too dark…  lower  the fstop.    Your lens won’t go any lower and the image is still too dark.  Make the ISO higher.

Fitness is fun…

I had a great personal trainer come to the studio the other day.  She needed photos for her profile and website.  We looked on line together and found a few poses.  These were my favorites from the shoot!

I tried something different with this shoot.  Fitness photos can be a little more dramatic and edgy than a regular portrait.  Notice the high key light and rim lights down her arms and sides of her face.

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I had a request from a client for a “hithcockian” style photo for an improve comedy troupe.   I was really interested in the opportunity to shoot this.

Here was the goal…

8 cast members in the photo.  Each one has to stand as an individual but they all need to be interacting somehow in the scene with each other.  The small details were going to tie in the story.  The client provided the location.

The challenges…

Limited space and time.  The entire shot needed to be executed from lighting set up to final shot in under an hour.  Everybody needs to be in focus. I have 4 speedlights and the surface above the fireplace was reflective.  Also, I could not shoot straight on, I had to shoot lengthwise down the room because of the width of the room.


Bonus shot… after the main shoot we split people up into sets continuing the story of the murder mystery theater!   This was my favorite from the set.




doesn’t always have to be all nude, lace and glamor.  Sometimes it’s a fun and sweet momento for a loved one.  Jackie came to my studio with an idea for her new fiancee.  A surprise for Valentines day.  She wanted to have sexy pics representing her fiancee’s favorite sports team.

When you are planning photos like this for your significant other, think about what their favorite things are.  It’s a great way to show how much you pay attention!


Personal work…

It seems like more and more these days I have work piling up.  Of course, I hardly call photography work.  I do however find myself in a position that allows for less and less personal creative projects.  *sigh*

A friend came to the studio the other day with a new model.  It was still daylight out so I had her stand by the window.  For a moment she stopped paying attention to what we were doing and got lost in her own thoughts.  It was a glimmer of a second but I quickly snapped this at just that moment.


Commercial work…

Not sure why but I really enjoy this type of work.  It’s kind of tedious but, if you get a large enough stock of items to photograph like I did on this job… it becomes a challenge in organization!   Really, I just liked playing with all the fun pet toys!
(especially the squeaky pig!)



Just to sort of show my work… these were 6 separate files that I was able to drag and drop onto a white backdrop, perfectly clipped with no shadows.

Something to remember when hiring a photog for commercial work.  Pure white should be your photographers goal for clipped images.  If they are jpeg as these were and you can still see a blue tint on the white part of the image, your photographer is not doing his/her job correctly! Learning how to do this comes with experience, practice and a desire to “get it right” for the client!

Make sure your photographer is getting it right!!!