Teacher of the Year Laura | RI Studio Headshots
Laura is a good friend of mine who works as an art teacher in North Providence. She just happened to win teacher of the year at her school and is now prepping to enter into the citywide contest. From there she’ll go to regionals, then nationals, then wear the teacher of the year crown until next year.
Part of her application packet was a headshot requirement. This is where I come in. She said a black background was fine so Saturday afternoon I started setting up some lighting in the basement with a black backdrop. I then proceeded to annoy Tara by making her sit there while I adjusted everything. She lost interest after awhile and I resorted to the self-timer and running into the scene to try a self-portrait. She then came back and helped me out a little more.
When Laura showed up, the whole setup was ready to go. The photo session took literally four minutes. We dumped the photos to my computer, picked the one she liked most, and then we sat together while I edited. It was kind of fun to edit while the person was sitting right there. Her shirt was actually hot pink in real life, but we changed it to blue because we both thought it looked better. Scroll down for some behind the scenes info.
A little behind the scenes for you photographer nerds out there (and you strobists) – All the lighting was done with speedlights. Below you can see the setup. #1 is an SB600 on a boom with a shoot through umbrella, #2 is a bare optically triggered YN560, #3 is a junky bare Sunpak, #4 is a bare SB600 behind Laura’s head pointing back at the camera, and #5 is a piece of white foam board carefully balanced on our laundry basket and our deep freezer basket to fill in some shadows from below. As for the rest of the stuff in the picture, well, I’d like to see how clean your basement is. Please notice the professional seating device – an old CRT TV. I would have liked to have her stand, but the ceilings are too low to set the lights up for a standing adult. Three lights were triggered with wireless triggers and #2 was optically slaved (I ran out of triggers).
As you can see, we don’t have a real studio space, but this should serve as an example of how you can make do with what you’ve got to get pretty good results. Speedlights used correctly can look like you’re using much larger studio strobes. Experiment!