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Speedlite Headshots: Stephany

Speelite headshot 1

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I just shot a headshot session with a lovely San Diego jewelry designer named Stephany.  These were done in my own living room with a combination of window light and Canon speedlite flash (off-camera, of course).

If you’d like to see larger versions, plus some additional shots from this session, click any photo.

These were shot as part of the practice sessions for my online video course “How to Shoot Headshots and Portraits on a Budget Using Small Flashes” in which I explain exactly how I do these shots with minimal equipment.

Speedlite headshot 2

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Speedlite headshot 3

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  1. Can you shoot at 100asa, just using canon flash units bounced into umbrellas??

  2. admin says:

    Neil, you can certainly get plenty of light from the flashes on your subject for ISO (ASA) 100. Now, you may be constrained by the background light, if you’re trying to get a certain exposure in the background based on ambient light. That may be what ends up determining your exposure and ISO settings. But the flashes really pack a punch. I’m usually working at a small fraction of their power. I hope I’m understanding your question correctlly.

  3. Mike Smith says:

    Hello Phil,
    I have a question about the pictures in the series with the woman in the black dress. In two out of the three shots her hair is a bit messy around the shoulders. Wouldn’t it have been advantages to have her hair combed to make for a better pictures?

    May the day find you well,

  4. Phil Steele says:

    Mike, having a make-up artist on set during the shoot can sometimes catch those things, call a halt, make a fix, then continue. But when I’m alone with a model, as I was here, sometimes I don’t notice things that are out of place with hair or clothing until I see the photos later on the computer. I’m too focused on posture or expression usually to notice. We do the best we can. If you can train yourself to see that stuff in the moment, then you’ll be a better photographer than me.

  5. Jerry says:

    Yes, Phil, couldn’t you have paid more attention to the hair? After all, it clearly affected the lighting. What a dumb comment, Mike. He was showing how small flashes can be used to great effect… which he did. As for ” the haor messy”/” is the hair not messy”, I’ve had tons of women with hair like this lady who wanted some shots with their hair a bit messy to kind of show a wilder, more out of control side to them. Phil, you did a great job and I look forward to shooting more this way as well. Did you use striplights as your modifiers?

  6. Phil Steele says:

    Hi Jerry,
    No striplights, just a white shoot-through umbrella for the main light and a bare speedlite (with maybe a 1/4 CTO gel on it) for the hair/rim light. The top photo used window light from the front and a speedlite for the hair.

  7. Jerry says:

    Thanks for the reply. Even better that you just used a shoot though. They are soooo much cheaper than striplight box, but you can control more light with the strip box. Thanks again. Great work, by the way. I think I’m selling my studio gear. I think I can do all I personally need without it.

  8. Jerry says:

    Oh yeah, I meant to ask. What lens did you shoot those with, and what settings? I usually use the 70-200 2.8 at about f4. Thanks.

  9. Phil Steele says:

    Some of those were shot with the Canon 70-200mm f/4 L IS, and some with the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS. Those are my two workhorse lenses that do 90% of my photography.

  10. Paul Treacy says:

    I think the hair’s fine. Sometimes headshot pictures are too perfect. I’m not a fan of makeup either. If you want to stand out from all the other photos casting directors and the like receive, then forget the makeup. Go natural. Such pictures have more life to them, in my opinion. What becomes important then is hydration, sleep and hair in good condition. If not using makeup then the lighting has to be excellent.

    I like the first photo best. The black dress shot doesn’t work and the head at an angle looks like it’s about to roll away but it’s well lit.

    But I’m no expert. Yet. Although some of my clients are now asking for headshots. Maybe my thoughts on makeup will have to change. Hey ho.

    Paul Treacy (.com)

  11. Phil Steele says:

    Paul, thanks for the comment. I like your site, you have a real eye for quirky moments that make the viewer pause and think.

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