Corporate Work: Headshots, Oh Boy!
A few weeks ago, I got an email from a colleague wondering if I could do some headshots for the Translational Medicine team at my company.
The team was putting together a presentation for internal meetings they will be having this fall, and wanted consistent headshots to go with the deck. It’s a group of seven (with one of them being in La Jolla, California) so while I wouldn’t be able to do the full team, I could get most of them done (they weren’t about to fly me out to Cali for one shot. Oh well.)
Note: I shot seven TM people. The three extras were people who heard about my shoot and asked if they can get in on it. Sure thing! No skin off my pixels.
I was familiar with the building where they all sit, and actually had often thought the main walkway area would be a cool spot to do photos. There’s a striking painting in the sitting area, there’s overhead skylights for nice natural light, and I also noticed some great shadows and lines that naturally occur on the wall. That’s the good part. The bad part is that it can also create some harsh shadows and I didn’t have anything to diffuse that overhead light. Note to self…
I got to the shoot early (good thing, too, because even though I’m an employee, there was a mix-up with the camera pass I was supposed to have and precious time was wasted in getting that squared away.
Once I got in, though, I immediately went to the spot I wanted to shoot in to have a quick scout and set up.
There were a number of nice areas within a small spot and my goal was to shoot everyone in multiple set-ups to provide some difference in background and shots. So, I staked out four areas (a X of black gaffer tape on the carpet marked the spot.) To see where the light was falling, I made some test shots.
By the time 1:30 rolled around, and my first subjects came on set, I was ready to go.
As you can see by the opening montage, I did get a nice mix of backgrounds and looks. Shooting with my Canon 70D and my Fuji X100t (for the B&W images) I was able to submit at least four headshots (including at least one B&W file) to each person as final, hi-res, print-ready files and they could select they ones they wanted to use for their presentation…and/or also their Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn profile pics.
While I liked the final files, I also liked some of the “out takes” as well.
So, what was the good and bad take-aways from this shoot? What did I learn? Here you go:
- Got there early and was already and set up before the subjects came onto set. Give yourself enough time. Better to be ready and wait, rather than rushing. The whole mess with the photo pass could have screwed me up but it didn’t.
- A few weeks ago, while in Home Depot, I purchased a rolling toolbox from Husky for about $60. I liked the price and the opportunity it presented. It’s big and on wheels and, in it’s first real use, worked well. for me. Here’s my rolling gear set up. My new apple box came in handy too.
- I feel I made good use of a small space to give different scenes. A couple of years ago, I may have just stood everyone in the same spot. Now, I know to work the scene and get as many looks in as I can.
- I had 15 minutes with each: Had to say hello, get them comfortable and get started to keep them on schedule. I had to keep in mind these folks were scientists. They don’t get photos taken too often. They aren’t comfortable in front of the camera. It’s my job (our job) as the photographer to make them comfortable quickly and seamlessly. I asked everyone what they did as an ice breaker. I asked them where they were from (Answers: US, Beirut, Serbia, India) to get them at ease.
- I took advantage of the natural light and lines. But that leads me to…
- I didn’t break out any lights to provide some fill. That sunlight was coming at almost directly overhead. As prepared as I was, I was shy to put up a light stand. I have to overcome that. I don’t have go all Joe McNally on lighting…but set up the soft box or shoot-through umbrella. It was all with me and I just pulled it short.
- I didn’t have anything to beat down or diffuse that light. Wish I had a big silk to do so but I didn’t. Maybe something to add to the gear bag?
- Working alone, I could really use my fill-light reflector. I need to pick up an articulating arm for my light stand to help me hold a reflector. That would have helped.
We live and shoot and learn, folks. I learned a lot in doing just these simple headshots. I’ll take these learnings into the next one.
If you have any questions or comments about this shoot, please shoot me a note or drop them in the comments below. Happy to answer. It’s a long photographic journey, folks…always learning!
© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2017