Actor's headshots - Advice

5 years 1 week ago #426574 by JeremyS
I have been asked to take headshots of actors performing in a local play here. I am leaning towards clam shell style lighting because it is a classic lighting style. I am wondering what kind of backdrop I should try and have - bear in mind I don't have seamless, I have a brown/beige muslin and that is pretty much it right now. I'm restricted to two lights and 2 reflectors. 

Another question I have is what lens to use, I have a 50mm and a 70-300mm. I'm leaning towards a 70mm if I am going to be shoot clam shell so that I can get in tight enough to have the lights close enough. My Lighting modifiers are a snoot/softbox/umbrella. 

What do people here recommend as this is the first kind of assignment like this. 


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5 years 1 week ago #426615 by icepics
I think it's better to take on an assignment once you know what will work best and what equipment you'll need, etc. It seems like it would be beneficial to get more practice and learning first. I think it might be better to refer people to where they can find a pro photographer til you have the skills necessary to know how to do this on your own.

Sharon
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5 years 1 week ago - 5 years 1 week ago #426646 by JeremyS

icepics wrote: I think it's better to take on an assignment once you know what will work best and what equipment you'll need, etc. It seems like it would be beneficial to get more practice and learning first. I think it might be better to refer people to where they can find a pro photographer til you have the skills necessary to know how to do this on your own.


Question, how do you expect me to get better without taking risks, and secondly, I didn't mention it was a paid job. I am asked to do it through association. 


Edit: It is impossible for me to get better without trying to do things myself, I can study all I like, and I have. If I just pass everything off to somebody else I can never get better, which I want to become better. That is why I asked, however if people would rather me just pass the project off I'll just delete the thread.


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5 years 1 week ago #426651 by JeremyS
If you think I am absolutely clueless, I am asking about advice, I'm not asking people to do it for me. I know what I want to do, I am wondering how people may think I could do this better. It is not that I am going in blind, because god knows the amount of time spent studying lights, lighting schemes, modifier effects, focal length and subject.

If this was a situation that I knew I could not handle it I would not take it on.


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5 years 1 week ago #426661 by garyrhook
Hm. I don't see how that was helpful. Other than, perhaps a "how to/how not to"-type of thread. So let me see what I can add.

Get a Thunder Gray backdrop. With proper lighting it can made to go black or white, or left at gray. You can also use colored gels on the backdrop to add some color. Very versatile. And gray will work very well for your head shots. I've seen some very clever things done with it. Clever trick: cover a snoot with aluminum foil, then punch some 1/2 inch holes (or so) into it, then cover with a gel. Aim at the backdrop at an angle. Take photo. But you only have two lights...

Find a space, set up, and practice with a willing victim. Your key light (prime) should be up and over at about 45 degress; put the other light behind and opposite. This will act a bit like a rim light on the opposite side. The combo should give you separation from the background, and some dramatic, hollywood style lighting. Look at my recent selfies on Viewbug to see what can be done with 2 lights.

Use the longer lens, over 100mm of you can. You don't really need that much space for a headshot.


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5 years 1 week ago #426702 by JeremyS

garyrhook wrote: Hm. I don't see how that was helpful. Other than, perhaps a "how to/how not to"-type of thread. So let me see what I can add.

Get a Thunder Gray backdrop. With proper lighting it can made to go black or white, or left at gray. You can also use colored gels on the backdrop to add some color. Very versatile. And gray will work very well for your head shots. I've seen some very clever things done with it. Clever trick: cover a snoot with aluminum foil, then punch some 1/2 inch holes (or so) into it, then cover with a gel. Aim at the backdrop at an angle. Take photo. But you only have two lights...

Find a space, set up, and practice with a willing victim. Your key light (prime) should be up and over at about 45 degress; put the other light behind and opposite. This will act a bit like a rim light on the opposite side. The combo should give you separation from the background, and some dramatic, hollywood style lighting. Look at my recent selfies on Viewbug to see what can be done with 2 lights.

Use the longer lens, over 100mm of you can. You don't really need that much space for a headshot.


Yes, I have plans on getting a seamless. Space is my current issue, In my current and near future living arrangements space is a bit of a premium, I haven't been able to shoot with the rembrandt type lighting yet however I will likely give it a go. To circumnavigate my backdrop I'm thinking about trying to black out as much of it as possible, that way It is strictly the actor and they are not competing with anything.

Because of not usually having much space this part is new to me, I've only ever been able to shoot with a 50 in my home studio setup.

Thanks for the tips Gary, it was helpful :)


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2 years 6 months ago #537338 by Meiko
I'm sure you've done the shoot by now, but from my experience focal length is 75% of taking a good portrait, and completely comes down to the subject.

Ryan Gosling looks good shot really up close and wide – which is why films like Drive have the camera a foot away from his face.

This would give some faces a fishbowl effect, but Ryan's eyes are naturally quite close together, which can make his face look overly wide when shot on something like a 200. So the key is: make every decision based on what you see. Astonishing the number of photographers who think, shot, and only then see what they've taken in the editing process.


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