Best Photography Equipment You’ll Need for Professional Corporate Headshots: Beginner’s Guide
Published 25th July 2019
Corporate photography equipment may vary, but having the right gear is important to get a successful shot that will please your client. This beginner’s guide to using the best photography equipment for professional corporate headshots aims to help you get off to a great start in this area of photography.
One of the most important aspects of creating professional corporate headshots is the lighting. Until you have found your feet and gained more experience, continuous lighting is the most reliable and easiest tool to use to get the best results.
How do you shape the light to get the best results?
There are a few simple lighting setups that will get you good, professional corporate headshots:
As the name suggests, 1-point lighting is all about using one main light, and is the simplest lighting of all to use.
You can use natural light if there is enough of it, or use a light such as the Spectrum PRO 'S-Beam 150' LED Softbox Lighting Kit, along with a reflector like the Hypop 43" / 110cm 5-in-1 multi photography reflector disc.
If you are using a lighting kit, you’ll also need a sturdy light stand such as the Hypop 260cm Air Cushioned Heavy Duty Light Stand to keep your lighting safe and stable while you do your corporate headshots.
To use natural light, you need to position your subject so that there is no blown highlights or very deep shadows – stay out of direct sunlight, or use the diffuser element of a reflector between your subject and the sun.
If you are using window light, make sure again that it’s not lit directly by the sun, or use the diffuser to reduce the glare. You’ll need to position your subject so that they are next to, and slightly facing, the window. Don’t put their back to the window, or you’ll end up with a silhouette.
When using a softbox lighting kit, you get much more flexibility, as you can place your light and subject how you wish without relying on natural light. It also makes it possible to shoot at night or in shadowy areas.
The ideal setup is to have your subject facing you, with the light about 45 degrees to the side, and at or slightly above their face level. This will give classic portrait lighting, with a shadow side to the part of the face furthest from the light. You would then use your reflector to bounce light back in from the main light to lift and fill this shadow side so it’s not too dark.
The lighting diagram below shows a 1-point lighting setup using continuous lighting and a reflector:
2-3 Point Lighting
As you get more proficient at using a lighting kit, you can add more lights to give even more variety and versatility to your corporate headshot lighting setups.
You can use one light as your main light, and another as a fill light set at lower power, or use one light to illuminate your backdrop or as a hair light to give a different effect.
There are many combinations of setups you can use, but a good starting kit is a 2-light one, such as the Spectrum PRO DUO 'S-Beam 150' LED Softbox Lighting Kit, which contains all you need to start creating 2-point lighting.
A useful 2-point lighting setup for corporate headshots is this one:
Here is how to use 2 lights and a reflector to create 3-point lighting that illuminates the background separately from the subject:
Another important consideration in taking good corporate headshots is the type of background that you choose.
Having a good black or white backdrop for your corporate photography is a must – they go with any colours of clothes, and provide a solid background that won’t distract from your subject.
There are three main types of backdrop:
- Paper Backdrops: backdrops like the Spectrum Marshmallow White Non-Reflective Paper Roll Backdrop 2.7X10M and the Spectrum Black Non-Reflective Paper Roll Backdrop (2.7 x 10M) - Badabing Black come on paper rolls that give crease-free backgrounds. They can be reused until they start to tear or get dirty, then you can cut off the soiled part and pull down the roll to have a fresh backdrop.
- Muslin Backdrops: muslin backdrops such as the Hypop Cotton Muslin Backdrops range are durable, lightweight and can be popped into the washing machine when dirty, so can be used again and again. They are ideal for travelling to shoots as they can be folded up and put in a bag.
- Collapsible Backdrops: these double-sided backdrops like the Hypop Collapsible Double Sided Backdrops range are versatile and lightweight. They fold down for easy transportation, and are made from cotton muslin.
The backdrop you choose for your corporate headshots will depend on your preferences, and whether you need to travel a lot.
Tether cables like the Tether Tools range are another handy part of your corporate headshot photography kit. While also enabling you to shoot tethered to a computer or laptop, they also allow you to preview your photos as you go.
You'll be able to see what needs to be changed, what you can compose differently if it's necessary or if the lighting is ideal on a bigger screen instantly rather than on the tiny LCD of your camera back.
While sandbags like The Heavy Duty Sandbag for Boom Arms may not seem like a very important part of your beginner corporate headshot kit, they are actually a crucial part of your setup. Sandbags help to weight down your light stands, which makes them more stable and less easy to overbalance or knock over.
We know that sets can sometimes get busy with hustling staff or playful children. Putting sandbags on your heavy lighting is also an essential safety precaution to help prevent expensive equipment from falling on moving subjects and causing potential injuries.
Hopefully this beginner’s guide to the best photography equipment you’ll need for corporate headshots has been of help to you. Continuous lighting is a fantastic choice for beginners, as it means there are not that many settings and adjustments that need to be made with flash heads, you can see what the light looks like on the subject before you take the shot, and this means you can concentrate on getting the shot instead of worrying if you have your flash heads set right.
Continuous lighting also generally costs less than flash heads, and you may well find it more versatile as you can mix the ambient light of the room in with your lights for some really good effects.