Good Images Can Happen Anywhere

I just finished processing the final images from a headshot session last week. The location wasn't exactly ideal, and the temperature was far from comfortable. It would have been easy to let the conditions prevail, but we kept the upper-hand.

It comes down to making the situation work for you. The location wasn't usable, so I set up a background. I went with simple on this one, subtle backgrounds and minimal lighting (often no artificial lights at all, just natural light).

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The above image was photographed in the subject's garage. It was hot, it was full of stuff, and it's impossible to tell in the photo.

For this particular image I got a background from JoAnn's Fabrics that was a kind of crinkled brown fabric. As I set it up, I realized I liked the back of the fabric better for this case, a neutral gray with some texture from the other side. I had the subject stand about 5ft from the background, with a studio-strobe in a large halo just out of the frame above her head for butterfly lighting. I had an assistant holding a silver reflector just below the frame, against the subject's chest, just softly filling in shadows and creating a second catch-light in her eyes.

The image below was shot with just natural light. The location was actually right beside a bathroom, so the tight cropping was to hide everything except the small section of stone. This image was literally shot in a neighborhood park, no lights, no reflectors, just a shady wall.

Great images can be created with any equipment, and almost any location. It's about controlling the location, you can find shade or you can make shade with nearly anything you have on-hand. The two images I chose as examples are very very similar in composition and expression. One was taken in a local park next to the bathroom with nothing more than a camera, the other taken in a hot garage with lights and reflectors, fans, and assistants.

I'm not the biggest Ansel Adams fan, but he was dead-on when he said the most important photographic tool you have is the 12 inches behind the camera. Spend less time making excuses about gear and places to shoot, and just go out and create solid images.


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