Headshot photography: Studio lighting – Westcott Eyelighter
With portrait lighting for head shots, there are so many configurations – all the way from dramatic lighting, to very even light – but always keeping in mind that the lighting needs to look flattering. It is all in how we balance the various lights, and how we add fill-light.
The first time I encountered the Westcott Eyelighter (B&H / Amazon), was at the After Dark Edu photography conventions, and I was fascinated by this lighting device and the results it gave. There is a distinctive curved high-light that it gives to the bottom part of your subject’s eyes. How much of a reflection, will depend on how you position the Eyelighter.
The lighting setup used for these photos
For the photos here, I used a fairly consistent lighting setup. It is similar to other examples shown on Tangents, but with the Eye-lighter added.
- I used three Profoto D1 Air 500 W/s studio lights (affiliate) for my lights.
- The main light on her was diffused with the huge Profoto RFi 5.0′ Octa Softbox
- Fill-light was via a Eye-lighter reflector below the subject.
- The hair light was via the second Profoto D1 Air 500 W/s studio light;
diffused with a Profoto RFi 1’×4′ softbox and the Profoto 50 degree 1×4 soft-grid
- The background was a grey paper backdrop, which was spot-lit for most photos by a Profoto 7″ Grid Reflector with a Profoto 10-degree Honeycomb Grid that had a Rosco Cinegel 1/2 CTS #3442 over it to add some warmth.
Using the eye lighter in the studio
The amount of fill can be dictated by how hight the Eyelighter is on the light-stand, and how much forward or back the Eyelighter is moved in relation to your subject.
A further comparison with and without the Eyelighter, but also adding a V-flat to camera-right, to add fill-light.
Of course, how you position your subject has a huge influence as well in how the light pattern appears. So as with any studio lighting setup, you can move the lights, and you can move your subject’s position. It all affects the final image. Both these next images were with the same lighting setup.
The best starting point is with the Eyelighter “straight”, in other words, not rotated. From there you can play and see how the light affects your subject for the best fill-light. By standing in front of the Eyelighter where your subject would stand, you can see how much of the main light is reflected, by watching the reflected light in the Eyelighter.
Of course, how the main light is positioned, has a dramatic effect on the light as well. Here are three images, first showing the main light to camera right; and then moved to a lesser angle. Finally, with the Eyelighter below (and the Octa softbox above) the subject in a clam-shell configuration which gives very even light.
As you can see from the examples here, it is quite versatile in how much fill light is added. Moving it forward or back, or raising it up or down, or swiveling it from left to right – all these things influence the light on our subjects. We have options!
What surprised me with the Westcott Eyelighter (B&H / Amazon), is just how small a package it disassembles into. Compact, and easy to shelf if need be. So don’t let the large size fool you in thinking you need a lot of storage space for it when not in use.
Studio lighting workshops
If you are interested in learning more about studio lighting, including lighting for headshots, I offer workshops on studio lighting. The workshops will be held at my studio space in NJ, and it has a wide range of studio lighting gear to play with!