Oh crop!
Jun 18, 2013
Reaction score
South West Wyoming
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
Hello all. I have searched the forum and haven't found exactly what I am asking.

I have been asked to do a headshot. I'm not charging for the service, only the prints if they like them. It will be on location in an office. Here is what I have for lighting. I have 2 speedlights with radio triggers, 2 shoot through umbrellas and 2 silver reflector umbrellas. I have a black backdrop and a basic crop sensor dslr. I thought I would use my 50mm 1.8, but I have a kit zoom in the 55-250mm as well.

Can anyone give me a diagram for a 2 light setup. If I need to, I can get a reflector in there too, but I'll be shooting without an assistant.

Any help is appreciated. Thanks!
Excellent resource!^^

Here's the set-up I use for a lot of my headshots:

I use a 30x30" Lastolite Ezybox driven by an SB800 about 3' from the client, with the reflector close image right (very close as in, just out of frame) and shoot against any plain, monochrome background, but ensure you have lots of separation. I like at least 4' and preferably 8' or more. Use an aperture sufficient to ensure that the whole head is in sharp focus, with the point of focus on the near eye.

That set-up produces this result:

(I do have a hairlight in this shot, high, right and back, only because of the darker background).
If it was me, I'd put one light at 45 degrees to the side and 45 degrees above the subject and use the other just to fill in any dark shadows. That's pretty much my go-to set up if all I'm after is a basic, nicely lit headshot.

EDIT: Tirediron got there first! That's pretty much what I was describing except he used the reflector for the fill instead of the other flash.
A plain, black background with a dark-haired person can often cause the hair to blend in with the background, so you can either 1) use some kind of hair light or 2)fire the flash from the mid-back height of the person, and directly back at the black background either A)bare flash or B)with a snoot or tube on the flash or C) with a gel taped over the flash head or D)some combination of the prior set-ups.

The issue with hair-lighting with speedlights is that BARE flash,aimed from the back or off to the sides and back of a person, is very,very "hot". It takes only a tiny bit of flash aimed from behind a subject to create an exceedingly hot,overexposed, specular type of highlight on the hair, and that can look VERY bad. Unless you have modeling lights and studio flash, I don;t really think that using a bare flash, or even a snooted flash, as a hairlight is a good idea for a beginner...it's just too critical. I think it'd be better to fire the second flash at the black background, to create a hot center spot on the backdrop, with fall-off at the edges of the background, and use just ONE main light, and a reflector of any kind, very close to the subject's face, as fill-in.

One secret is to place the background light so it is aimed level, and straight-on, right "at the fabric" of the background. Do NOT place is low, and angled upward, because with a crop-sensor, the depth of field is usually so deep that the raking angle of the flash on the background can easily cause side-lighting, and show texture, and make the background look wrinkly, and distracting. THis is one of the 'secrets' to making backgrounds sublimate--avoid lighting them with, in effect "horror lighting", or excessive "side-lighting"!!!
I like some accent on the subject, typically on the hair. The added reflector will add in some Fill light.


To increase the size, the the softness of the Fill light.


For some Broad lighting.


To light and gel the background. I don't have a diagram handy, but you could take your background light and either aim it at the background or aim it to the back of your subject for different effects.


Of course, you'll need to tweak angles, distances and output for your situation. Hope this helps.
thanks for all of the diagrams. I have been practicing with a model of the stuffed variety for a few weeks now. My husband is going to be crash test dummy 2 so I can reference for height. Depending on how test shots go, I may even go ahead and recommend a studio that I know. Using off camera flash is new to me and if I am not confident then I would rather someone else get business than for me to ruin my reputation.
Thanks for the responses in this thread. There's a lot of good info here.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk 2
Another thing to think about with the set ups shown above is whether to short light or broard light the subject, short lighting someone with a wide face gives a slimming effect
Last edited:

Most reactions