How to shoot professional headshots in a conference room with one off camera flash

I didn’t think it would work.  Let’s start there.  When I set up the day of head shots for the chamber members, I had envisioned beautiful natural light and a line out the door.  I hadn’t planned on a conference room with LED lights and a large U shaped table in the middle of the room.

 I had been watching 28 Days with Sue on Creative Live and had purchased the foam core boards and even painted them.  See my post on Foam Core Boards for the specifics.  Transporting those beasts is a whole separate matter, but with careful driving and the back of the van open, we made it.

 I made sure I had plenty of time to set up and realized that I could use the corner of the room (surprisingly the farthest corner from any natural light) and as long as I set up the boards as a sort of box, I could use the white wall as a bounce reflector for the flash.

Business Headshot

Headshots with one light

Business Headshot

I brought a small, under $20, bar stool from Walmart as a posing stool and set up the flash at about a 45% angle.  You can see that I pushed one of the boards flush with the wall and then pulled a small table from the conference room up to the back of the other one.  Since they’re so light, it was plenty of weight to prevent it from falling.

Some people screw a small 2×4 to the bottom of the boards with L Brackets, but I wanted to try it the most simplistic way first.

Here’s a link to the original post from Sue on her v-flats/foam core boards tutorial.  Link 

Back to the actual shooting.  We kept the overhead lights on, but the corner that I created allowed me, pretty much, complete control of the lighting.

These were my settings on my Canon 6D with Tamron 24-70: ISO 200  1/125  f3.5.  See my post on that incredible lens and how I love it so, here.

 I used the Westcott Rapid Box 20″ OctaMini Softbox with the deflector plate and the diffuser panel.  I set up my Yongnuo YN 560 III speed light with the Yongnuo RF-603 Wireless Flash triggers and set them between 1/32 and 1/64 depending on skin tone and 105mm.  This was my first time relying so heavily on the Softbox.  I usually work with natural light and my head shots are almost always outdoors.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure if the overhead lights would mess with the color temp, but the beauty dish absolutely solved the problem and the white wall was a great reflector.

I love the 3/4 light that the Beauty Dish created.  I had the light right about cheek level and for the seated poses, lifted it a smidge higher and angled it down a touch.  Not enough for heavy shadows, but enough to feel a bit more like natural light.

I’m in love with how these turned out and they really didn’t need much editing, even for head shots.

So, yes, you can shoot professional head shots with ONE light in pretty much any room with the right background and settings.

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