Easy Headshot Lighting

Actor Headshot

Actor Headshot

This week’s lighting tip is how to uses a very simple lighting setup for actor headshots. The requirements for headshots other then capturing the personality of the actor is to light the actor so you don’t have harsh glaring highlight and overly dark shadows. A key was of doing this is to use diffused light. Two great lighting tools for this are large light boxes or lighting panels. I decide to go with using a panel because I like the flexible of using panels and I didn’t want to have to be moving three lights around on the set.


After talking with Sena a young black actress from Berlin the plan was to shot a low key image using the natural background of the studio. The main problem of shooting a black actress on a dark background was separating her off the background. To solve this problem I needed to be able to light the background but still keep the low key lighting look.


Lighting Setup for headshot

Light setup using lighting panels


To get the effect I was looking for I setup a Panel to the left of the model and lit it with an INTEGRA 500 plus Hensel flash head. The flash was placed so that some of the light would spill pass the panel and light part of the background. To get some separation on the right-hand side of the model I place another Hensel with a grid spot to the right of the model. The last key to this puzzle was I needed to block some of the light coming off the panel that was spilling into the lens of the camera. I did this by placing a Gobo between the panel and the camera. I hope this Friday’s tip helps on your next photo shoot.  For more cool tips on lighting visit my friend Luis Alvarez’s site vela-photo.

One Response to “Easy Headshot Lighting”
  1. Claude says:

    very useful tips, thanks for sharing!

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