Corporate and Business Headshots with the Canon 5DMk III

April 20, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

A photographer is in a position to provide corporate and business headshots to business owners.  A good, well-executed headshot means the difference between being perceived as a successful, professional enterprise or as an also-ran. How your business and corporate headshots look will have clients at every level looking to your services to provide something they can use as the face of their business. 

First, a word on equipment. Equipment will be a personal choice for every photographer. For the purpose of this article we’ll work with equipment that is guaranteed to produce professional results if used properly and is used by Gary Duncan Photography with their clientele.  The Canon 5D Mk III, a 70-200mm f2.8 lens, 22” beauty dish, hair light, and reflector. 


Canon 5D Mk III
The Canon 5D Mk III is a 22.1-megapixel full-frame camera. It is the "go to" professional DSLR used in all aspects of photography, producing large, dynamic pictures.  


70-200mm f2.8 Lens
Due to its versatile focal range and relatively fast aperture, a 70-200mm f2.8 lens is a relatively useful jack-of-all-trades lens. It’s wider end, around 70-80mm is better for portraits with less distortion and more compression. Shooting wide open, @ f2.8, for any focal length will help provide a shallower depth-of-field, the blurry background effect.


The Beauty Dish
Beauty dishes are fairly common in fashion photography where the type of light they provide is excellent for emphasizing detail. The beauty dish sits somewhere between an umbrella and a softbox. As a light modifier the beauty dish provides softer light than an umbrella, but not as soft a light as a softbox. Diffusion material over the front of the beauty dish will soften the light further.  Light from a beauty dish is very directional with a quick fall-off, meaning that it illuminates the subject well and the background not so much.


The Rim (or Hair) Light
Since a beauty dish will light the front of a subject so well it can be useful to add the addition of a rim or “hair” light. This type of accent light is used to place a specific highlight on the subject to a bit more dimension to the image.


The Reflector
A reflector is very useful for any photographer. Using a reflector will help you remove unwanted shadows from the subject and place more light exactly where you need it. A white reflector will have a softer effect than a silver one.


Lighting Setup
Understanding how to set up your lighting is vital to a good corporate or business headshot. Lighting needs to be simple and effective. 


Since the beauty dish is the main light it should be set fairly close and slightly above the subject. Make a note of where the catchlights appear in the eyes, it should appear in the upper area of the eye.


The rim light will be placed where it provides the highlight you want. For a hair light it should be on the opposite side of the beauty dish, beside or slightly behind the subject.


To lessen unwanted shadows the reflector should be placed below the beauty dish in front of the subject. It may need to angled to achieve the effect you want.


For indoor corporate or business backgrounds you have two options; a professional backdrop or an environmental backdrop.


A professional backdrop is a professional produced plain or painted backdrop specifically for photography. Professional backdrops provide a consistent appearance when photographing multiple portraits and will avoid cluttered backgrounds.


An environmental background can work if the environment is suitable for the professional being photographed such as a lawyer surrounded by law books in their office. The background should never compete with the subject for attention.


Shooting outside can be an option, but for professional corporate or business portraits it should be considered whether it is suitable for the profession. When shooting outdoors natural light and a reflector can work, but adding a beauty dish will mean balancing the light with daylight.


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