Indoors headshot lighting set up …and why I’ll never use the word ‘ bokeh ‘ …

headshot photo

Where to shoot your Linkedin, website and professional profile headshots ...

A lot of people don't realise you don't need a studio to shoot professional headshots or portraits.

Yusuf photographed here, is actually posed in his front room at home in London.

If you have the right gear including portable lights and background you can achieve studio quality results anywhere.

Below I'll show the behind the scenes set-up, lighting ideas, camera setting ( 😨 ) and lighting diagram to show how simple and easy it is to shoot a professional headshot ( when you know how ).

Here's the behind the scenes set-up

Just using two lights, a ' pop-up ' background and exposing for the ambient daylight from the window you can achieve a multi-light - studio style portrait that really makes your profile photo stand out - all without leaving home 😜.

Yusuf initially thought he didn't have enough space until I explained you really don't need much as long as you have the right equipment.

He was after professional headshots that made him look like he'd gone and made an effort to stand out when actually all he was doing was just standing in his front room ... 

lighting diagram

Here's the above view of the set-up

( hopefully my hand writing on a Huion graphic tablet is legible 🤣 )

The main light was to camera left set to 1/16th power and angled so just the outer ( softer ) part of the light source ( softbox ) reached him.

The back light ( gridded spill kill ) was set to it's lowest ( 1/128th ) and directed at the middle of the background to create a gradual drop-off of light to achieve a vignette.

The window light crept nicely into the exposure and highlighted his cheeks, forhead and hair nicely - acting as a 3rd light. I set the power of the sun to 1/32nd 😎 ...

Here's the ideas behind the lighting set up ...

I've tried to go for a classical ' grandmaster ' style of lighting to give the subject a contoured and more 3 dimensional feel so his headshot stands out.

The main light is angled approximately 45 degrees to Yusuf on camera left, illuminating him on the left with shadows on the right. This is deliberate to create a silhouette effect on his shoulders and arms to seperate him from the lighter background.

The window light is behind and to the left highlighting his left side and face, separating him from the background. 

The light on the background is fitted with a gridded honeycomb which creates a gradual drop off of light leaving the outer edges darker and angled slightly to the right - this pulls the viewers gaze into the photo and into the subject.

lighting thoughts photo
camera settings

Ooh, here's the camera settings ...

Which should help with the set up. F1.4 to blur the background to keep focus on the subject ( I'm never seriously gonna use the word ' bokeh ' ). 1/200th of a second to control camera shake ( doesn't really matter ). ISO 100 to minimise noise. 85mm lens cause it's sharper and lighter than my 70-200mm and saves my back 😂

Once last thing is I've run the image through photoshop to remove the odd blemish and to also colour tone ( grade ) the image so it stands out using opposing ( complimentary ) colours on the colour wheel. This combination provides a high contrast and high impact colour combination.

What do you think ? Would you try this at home ? Would you be happy with this to represent you professionally ?