Samantha is in her freshman year of college and she’s studying opera – she’s going to be an opera singer (maybe I should do the whole positive reinforcement thing and say that she is an opera singer.)

I was referred to her father by a friend who’s a vendor at one of the local farmer’s markets that we frequent – it’s always a high compliment whenever someone actually refers us to their friends… especially since up to that point, I hadn’t ever done any headshots. Not real ones anyway. So I had some of that nervous excitement since this was a ‘first’ – and I didn’t want to screw things up. These are for submitting applications to various opera workshops – serious stuff – and generally conservative headshots are required – so no crazy light with lens flares!

Of course – these photos don’t show everything. They don’t show the part where I forgot some of my gear – some seemingly very important items. Once I got into the house and put my stuff down, I realized that I had forgotten to bring my shoot-through umbrellas – they soften the light and make it… better. Sure I laugh now – but at the time I was FREAKING OUT in my head. I can’t shoot her with bare flashes! They’d have to be like 5 inches away from her face and even then who knows!

Of course you can’t let the clients see that. Ha! I did go back out to my car and checked to make sure – and then freaked out some more while I stood there in the cold.

Oh well… I’ll just have to… make this work… and then I walked back inside.

Now – we have a portable backdrop and setup for portraits – but I opted to try to do this without pulling out all the gear. The room in the photo below basically had the only white walls, and this small spot where Samantha’s sitting was IT. Yeah – it’s a narrow strip of real estate but fortunately these were just headshots so it didn’t matter.

Note: At this point I was still freaking out in my head and just really hoping that this would work.

Since I didn’t have my light diffusers – and I wasn’t going to put the flashes right up to her face – I brought out two flashes and aimed them at the wall and ceiling. You can’t tell from this photo, but on the wall to the left (our left) is a window letting in light. I didn’t want any of that so I just upped the shutter speed and closed down all ambient light – all the light you see in these photos is from my flashes only.


Look at the above photo – doesn’t exactly scream ’perfect setup for professional headshots’. I have one light there aimed at the wall and then one on the right side angled up at the ceiling.

At least I’ve learned not to use a wide-angle lens for portraits (ha… I probably did that far too long…hey, I know better now!) – so I threw my 200mm on and stepped back about 10 feet. Yeah. A couple of things really worked out – the white wall, the proximity to the corner (better bounce) and the fact that this room opens across the entrance and into another room – so I could’ve stepped 20 feet back and had room to spare.


After the first few shots – I knew this was going to work and that’s when we really started.