Nine of the twenty three business portraits I photographed for an international financial services company at their annual meeting in Whistler.
I received an interesting request for some Vancouver headshots the other day. It was from a financial services company who were having their annual meeting at the Hilton Hotel in Whistler. The company wanted a set of matching business portraits, or headshots, and since their executives were spread all over the world, Vancouver, Asia, England, I had to do the photography in the middle of their very busy annual meeting.
I set up my studio in an empty board room at the Hilton first thing that morning, as the first group was set to come down during the morning coffee break. In 20 minutes, I shot the first six portraits, or about one every three minutes for both a tight head and shoulders portrait and a 3/4 length relaxed business portrait. I photographed the last 17 portraits in about an hour over the lunch break.
For more of my headshot work, check out my business portrait page at http://www.media-centre.ca/headshots/
A quick view of my set up in the Whistler Hilton boardroom.
This was one of those jobs where you need to 100% aware of what you’re going to be doing before any of the subjects even show up. There is no time at all to adjusting lighting while the subjects are there, so you really need to be on things. I do a long of on location Vancouver headshots, but this was was far the largest group, with the shortest allotted time frame I’ve ever done.
Just like everything, the styles of headshots change over time. Not one of the men I photographed was wearing a tie, for example. When I started this kid of work, we did most of the portraits against a painted muslin backdrop, but now with the need for portraits to fit onto web pages, white has become the defect background. This can make things a bit tricky, not enough light on the background and it goes grey, too much light and it reflects back into the camera, causing a fatal lens flare that’s pretty much impossible to correct for.
My lighting is a fairly simple three light set up. The main, or key light the largest soft box I can get into the space. Most of the time, that’s a 48″ x 36″ inch Photoflex soft box. I have a massive 60″x 48″ soft box in my studio, but it’s so big that unless you have a lot of room, you can’t get it far enough out of the way to see around it, so I never bring it on location. I use a folding reflector on the other side of the soft box to fill in the shadows, and a good boom are to hold the reflector goes a long way.
I usually use a light behind the subject, known as a kicker, to give a little contrast and separation from the background. It can be really tricky to get the light ratio right, so much and you have a really ugly shadow, not enough and you might as well not have it, and another light on a short stand to light up the background. Usually I have a 7″ reflector with grid spots to keep the light from spilling everywhere, but sometimes I might use a strip box on the kicker.
If you’re on location, it’s really important to get an accurate white balance. You can see the walls are almost orange, so the light bouncing off them will pick up that very warm tone.
Camera – Nikon d800 w/ AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8 II
Lighting – Paul C. Buff B-1600 Alien Bee strobes x 3