on-location headshots that work (w/ Meagan Lee)
This image is from the recent photo session with Meagan Lee, getting headshots for her portfolio. While this specific photograph is perhaps not useable as a headshot, I loved the way the wind whipped her hair around.
An uncomplicated portrait made stronger with a few things working in its favor:
- effective off-camera lighting via a softbox,
- a complementary but non-intrusive background,
- strong diagonal lines created by Meagan’s pose.
With that, this photograph again shows a simple and effective method for great portraits on-location:
Look for an interesting or neutral background, and then separate your subject from the background.
I used a 70-200mm f2.8 zoom lens here, set to f3.2 This wide aperture will help blur the background. More than that, the 70-200mm lens was zoomed to 200mm. With this, I purposely zoom to the maximum focal length, and then step back (or forward) until the shot is framed like I want it. If I had simply zoomed to frame the shot, then a shorter focal length would’ve had the background appear more distinct. So the method here relies on zooming to the max focal length, and then moving yourself until the shot is framed the way you need it to be.
It is imperative to look at the edges of the frame inside your camera. It may sound superfluous stating this, but I’ve met newer photographers that had difficulty looking at the entire frame inside the viewfinder, and then composing the shot. Perhaps it is something that really needs practice? But you really have to look at what you are including in the frame, as much as what you’re excluding from the frame.
My camera settings here were: 1/200 @ f3.2 @ 400 ISO … TTL flash, at -1.3 FEC
Lighting was via an off-camera speedlight in a softbox, held up with a monopod.
Instead of an entirely neutral / bland background such as one of the buildings in this spot in Manhattan, I wanted something with a hint of color. Actually, I wanted a more dramatic shot of Meagan Lee against the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but we were told to move along. So we looked around for something else … and this street vendor’s cart worked well, adding that splash of color. Here is the pull-back shot of the entire scene.
Without flash, and at the same camera settings:
The flash in a softbox really made the portrait pop, giving directional light that is soft.
Nikon D3; Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 AF-S II (B&H)
Nikon SB-900 (B&H); Nikon SD-9 battery pack (B&H)
Lastolite Hot Shoe EZYBOX Softbox Kit (24″x24″) (B&H)
PocketWizard FlexTT5 transceiver (B&H)
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