A big part of my job as Multimedia Specialist for the WVU College of Business and Economics is taking headshot. Lots and lots and lots and LOTS of headshots.
I recently did head shots of around 50 WVU College of Business and Economics undergraduate scholarship recipients. In situations where you have a lot of people to shoot in a very short time, its best to keep it as simple as you can. In this case I just used two Alien Bee B800s, one in a soft box as the main light and one bounced off an umbrella as a fill light. I used a roll of white seamless as a backdrop and let it go a couple stops dark to make a middle grey background. I had to set up in a hallway but I oriented all my gear so that I would have about 8 to 10 between my camera and the backdrop. The most difficult thing to deal with wasn’t the equipment or the tight space but it was that I only had a few seconds with each students. Its hard to make a connection and make them comfortable with the camera in such a short period. The goal was to get a somewhat pleasant likeness and not a deer-in-the-headlights mug shot. I did my best and think I got a pretty decent set of head shots.
Here are just a few:
This second group of headshots was for students in the College’s MBA program. The set up was very similar to the first one but I decided to use a dark cloth background to give them a different look. Because the background was very dark I also added a kicker light placed to the back left to add some separation from the subject and the background as well as give a little more shape to the subjects’ faces.
These headshots are NOT taken to win awards for portrait photography they are meant to be a clear photo of the subjects face that can be used with a resume, a newspaper or any other use that a business person may need. The most important thing in a situation where you have dozens of photos to take a very short period of time is that you don’t make the setup to complicated. Contrasty play of light and shadow may make a great expressive portrait but they can render a basic headshot useless.