How do I shoot a clean head shot that looks like it’s out of the pages of a magazine like Harper’s Bazaar. I always have a good laugh when I read or hear about portrait photographer who will say that they only work with natural light. What they are saying is that they don’t know how to use lights in a studio, don’t be one of these guys!
Now I have many setup’s for shooting a beauty/fashion head shot in the studio. I will talk today about a 2-light setup. Yes, you will only need 2-lights to do this. I start with the main light that is placed onto a boom stand so that I can have the light hanging down in front of the face. This way the stand is not in the way of the face or camera. Once you have this set-up so that the reflection of the light will show up in the eyes of the model you are in the right spot. Next, I will place a silver card or a white card under the chin of the model just low enough not to be seen in the camera. This way the light coming out of the light on the boom stand onto the face is now being bounced back under the face. This will soften the shadows under the nose, eyes and chin of the model by filling in with light. If you wish you can also place white cards on each side of the face.
Now you have that light set up its time to think about the white backdrop behind the model. You can just let it have no light or some light. I have a small soft box that I can place on a short stand so I can direct light onto the background in any place I need. I like to have this light just behind the model so that the backdrop will show as a gray gradient, that way it will work for a light or dark headed model. Make sure your model is about 5ft away from the background to get the look I have here.