Need advice on shooting headshots.


TPF Noob!
Apr 5, 2008
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I have recently been asked to do headshots for a friend who cannot afford a professional but needs headshots for her resume to be accepted into a professional musical. I have no headshot experience, and help would be appreciated.

First off, what poses should I use? Can anyone provide a webpage that has information on posing?

Second of all, which lens should I use? I'm debating between my 50mm F1.8 and my 80-200 F2.8. The 80-200 is better optically, but the 50mm is faster and just the right focal lenght.

As for lighting, I have a DIY reflector. Where should I position it for optimum lighting? Any other advice would be appreciated.
I would look at pro examples, then imitate them.
Thanks for the advice. Any thoughs on the placement of the reflector?
headshots 101 - The Purpose of
They go into a lot of detail there. They don't really go over gear/lighting at all though - just posing and "the rules".
This website is designed to help an actor shop for a photographer - know what to look for and all that. Still good information for you to have, they just explain everything from the other side of the camera.

The 80-200 is better optically, but the 50mm is faster and just the right focal lenght.

I would actually go with the longer lens and just set up farther away... (Especially if it's the better lens anyway.)

The 50 being faster will not matter at all - I don't think you're going to want to shoot this at f/1.8 (I would think maybe f/4 or f/5.6).

I'm sure there are a few people on here that do this for a living, hopefully some of them will jump in here and give some better advice.
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I would use the 80-200, its better optically and the telephoto length is more flattering for portraits. Anything from 85-135mm should be good. As for lighting. Sit them close to a window receiving indirect natural light, then use a reflector on the opposite side to bounce light back onto the shadowed part of their face. This almost always gives a nice natural effect and looks professional.
I AGREE - window light if you can pull it off IS the light of choice. Shooting wedding for years I learned that clients always preferred window light portraits. It's worth your time and effort to scout out a window where you can do your portraits. I went to home depot and snagged some plastic sprinkler pipe and made my own reflector frames. That way I could make really large reflectors for next to nothing. I would make the frame then I would head to the fabric store to find some reflective material. I even made some larger ones and used them as backgrounds. And since you can pick out the fabric you can have some really cool looking backgrounds.

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Another thing I heard of using as a background is a shower curtain. They're cheap and can be quite effective if you find a nice solid color or simple pattern.

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