40 Year Old Virgin-esque Portrait help.


TPF Noob!
Jan 31, 2012
Reaction score
New York
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
I am an amateur photographer with a Nikon D60 DSLR, a tripod, and some good lenses.
My friends have been begging me to take photos of them as a portrait in the style of the poster art for 40 Year Old Virgin. I don't ever take portraits, my people photos are usually candid.


I need help getting the lighting and image correct. Please recommend the following:
1) How can I deal with the lighting??
Looks like its coming from at least two directions (top and left). I don't have pro lights, is there any way around that?
2) How should I set the camera's setting? Aperture? Shutter Speed?

Thanks Guys!
No, there's no way around that if you don't have the lighting equipment.

He has a hair light, a big softbox camera left, and some soft light source coming from the right.

You'd also need an orange background and probably to snoot a flash hitting the background directly behind the subject.
I count 4 sources, and I'd suggest starting a little smaller before getting involves with balancing a key, fill, hair, and background light. Not to mention the post production. This isn't a quick and dirty portrait. Everything in this is very intentional.
Thanks. Post Production I'm not concerned with. Much better at Photoshop than my photography techniques. But four different types of light sources may be even trick to attempt if i HAD the equipment.
I don't think you can reproduce it exactly, but I bet you could come close. I'm no expert mind you, about as far from it as you can get, but I think you can fake it. The most noticeable lighting in that photo is the bright light from overhead & slightly camera-left hitting his hair & shoulders. 2nd obvious light is camera left at about a 45º angle creating the strong shadows on the right (subjects left). Forget about the background because if you've ever looked at how hairy Steve Carrell's arms are you know that background is photoshopped in anyway, so you can do the same. Looks to me like a simple sunburst gradient. Just make sure when you shoot your photo you use a background that can be easily masked out.

So if I were going to try to recreate it, I'd set a subject up next to a nice big window to his right, my left, and hang the brightest whitest light I can find over his head & see what happens. Then photoshop in the same background the studio did for the movie poster, tweak it with the dodge & burn tools to match more of the lighting effects in the real version & call it a day. You won't have perfect results, but unless your friends are perfectionists I bet they'll think you nailed it!
Welcome to the forum.

As you are probably starting to realize, shots like this have everything to do with lighting, and almost nothing to do with the camera or lens that you use. If you could get the lighting right, you could probably take the photo with cell phone. Well, maybe that's going a little too far, but the point is that lighting is everything....and this is a professionally lit portrait.

So when your friends ask you to take this type of portrait because you have a big fancy looking DSLR, ask them if they could compete in the Dakar rally because they they bought a pickup truck.

But as mentioned, with some creativity and skill, you could probably create a similar effect that might be enough to impress your friends.
Yeah, this was a professional shoot where they had loads of equipment. It may look cheesy but not easy to reproduce.
Go for it. 4 mag lights, orange construction paper and a bucket to sit on. Don't listen to these haters.
I also think that if you read some general portriat tips, get as close as you can by using whatever lights you have in your garage with some paper infront to diffuse (the hair light can just be a small light hanging above) and then photoshop in the background your buddies will have the laugh they were looking for. The camera is the least important piece of this puzzle. Have a blast, and post your results, I'd love to see what you come up with.
Not sure its that simple but I am not against giving it a shot. Nothing to loose. Dunno about using outside window lighting though.
Thanks for the support underdeveloped... sometimes its not just about the art, its about having fun.

Most reactions