headshots white background

I often get requests for headshots against pure white backgrounds, also known as “hi key” backgrounds. The end product often looks simple, but many photographers struggle with lighting in creating such headshot portraits.

One of the main lighting challenges is getting the background a nice pure white, while exposing the subject properly in the foreground. I’ve struggled with this myself in the past, but found a simple formula that works well in most situations. Here are the steps:

1. You need a seamless white backdrop (no kiddin). Paper seamless background rolls work well, but you can easily get by with a white wall.

2. I recommend (if you have it) at least two strobes (or speedlights). One on each side of the subject, and vertically offset so that one set higher than the other.

I used to use one 580EX II speedlight or an Elinchrom D-Lite strobe to light the background, but I found the results inconsistent. One strobe often resulted in a gradient background that went from 100% (RGB, 255, 255, 255) white to an off-white that was around 80% – not exactly pure white, and more work was required in Photoshop to create a pure white effect.

3. You need a way to flag the strobes so that light is hitting the background only and not directly back into the camera. V-flats work well for this setup.

4. Set the distance of the subject from the background to around 6-8 feet (or more, depending on exposure). This will allow you to control the background exposure separately from the subject. The more distance you have between the subject and the background, the more control you’ll have.

5. After lighting the subject, use an exposure meter, measure the exposure of the background and subject separately. The difference should only be about 1/2 to 2/3 difference between subject and background, with the background reflecting only slightly more light. This is important. If you have too much of a difference, you may create a hazing (low contrast) looking image. If there is too little difference between the subject and background, it may appear light grey rather than white (not a big deal, but will require a little more work in Photoshop to adjust).

hi key white background headshot setup
Hi Key Pure White Background Setup for Headshot Photography, diagram by Proheadshots Vancouver by d’Soleil Studios

Using these steps will get you very close to a pure white background for your headshot portrait. You may not get 100% white in camera, but if you can get close, you can use Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom to take you the rest of the way.

If you want a slightly easier way to create a white background, you can use a Lastolite Hilite for hi key photography. The same steps apply, except you won’t need to flag your background strobes in the same way you would strobes pointed at a wall or white seamless background paper.

 

These are lawyer headshots I took for a local law firm in Richmond, BC. These were photograph on location in one of their conference rooms. Lighting and background were chosen to fit the law firm ambience. For more info about on location headshots for your law firm or business, contact us today for individual or group rates and availability.

Vancouver law firm headshots

Corporate Portraits

Shooting corporate headshots on location can be one of the biggest challenges for a portrait photographer. Often times, I’ll be a location with tight spaces, such as boardrooms with large tables that make it challenging to position people and lighting . For example, I once had only an employee lunch room to work in that was no more than about 70 sq.ft. in size.

Using the Elinchrom Quadra as my studio lighting unit is one way I’ve been able to overcome this challenge. It’s small, relatively light weight, and more importantly, doesn’t require an AC power source for plugging in. This saves me from having to locate my power pack near a wall outlet, which is a big life saver when you are working at unfamiliar locations.

Also important are my Wescott umbrella-style softboxes, which fold up quiet easily for travel. They also have a smaller footprint and allow for easy setup in tight spaces, such as the boardroom in the photo above.

For this corporate portrait, I set up in the board room and moved some furniture around to get the exact look I wanted. There was a large window camera right, but it didn’t provide enough light on this particular cloudy Vancouver day. So as my main light, I set up my Westcott Apollo Orb on camera right and a Apollo Strip Box camera left and back to create some hair and background light.

The lighting ratios were adjusted to exactly what I wanted, which I accomplished by moving the rim light further back and by letting some light spill onto the frosted glass wall behind my client.

Posing and getting just the right look was one of the more challenging aspects of this shoot. I wanted something professional looking, conservative, but also welcoming and fresh. We spent about a half hour shooting and created a handful of photos that worked with what I envisioned. Further editing work was done with Adobe Lightroom 4 and Adobe Photoshop.

LinkedIn headshots Vancouver

We all know the importance of social media websites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for business in the modern age. But surprisingly, so few of us have good portraits of ourselves posted on these sites. While it may be fine to post family snapshots on sites like Facebook, it’s becoming increasingly important that our LinkedIn profiles have professional looking headshots attached our career profiles. J.D. Gershbein even goes as far as to say in an NBC post that not having a profile photo attached to your LinkedIn in account can be a deal breaker for people looking to promote themselves or their business.

According to LinkedIn, you are 40 times more likely to receive business opportunities if you have a complete profile on LinkedIn, and that includes having a profile photo of yourself. And to top that off, a LinkedIn profile with a professional headshot is 7 times more likely to be viewed than one without – now there’s a solid business case for getting your LinkedIn profile photo done right.

Having your headshot done professionally, with the right lighting and shot without all the usual distractions you get with an everyday snapshot, can make the difference between getting the right opportunity or not. It should be no surprise that a business portrait done right attracts attention. It tells your prospective clients or employers that you have put a face to your credentials, and that you are serious about your career. It also shows your commitment to quality and getting things done right. Compare that to someone who posts a vacation photo as their LinkedIn profile photo. With all else being relatively equal, which one of these two candidates would you want to do business with?

It’s clear from the social media studies that have been done that attaching real faces to profiles helps you to stand out in the social media jungle. It doesn’t take much time to get your headshot done, and done right – and the benefits can great!

 

 

Vancouver Real Estate Headshots

 

With Spring comes one of the hottest seasons for Real Estate Headshots in Vancouver. We often get many real estate agencies wanting to have headshots of their team members for use online and in their print advertising. We can craft a contemporary look that matches an agency’s brand image and have the photos ready within a few days. Contact us today to schedule a headshot session for your real estate team.

Vancouver corporate headshot photographer

Another common corporate headshot option is to do “multiple looks” at a headshots session, which provides you with the ability to do different poses, outfit changes, and lighting options. Having this sort of flexibility at a portrait session allows you to create a set of photos that differ from one another for different uses. Notice how the subtle changes in background lighting and and the position of the front studio lighting alters the look of each image. Each photo now looks like it could be used for different marketing purposes.

To book your Vancouver corporate headshot session, please visit our contact page to get in touch.