Indoor headshot photography is difficult to figure out, especially if you want to shoot really good headshots. Fortunately for us headshot photographers, we have one thing going for us: low light equals wide aperture, which equals shallow depth of field.
When you shoot headshots indoors, the primary obstacle you face is not having enough light. When you are outdoors, it's usually the opposite. Indoor headshot photography is difficult because you either spend a fortune buying a big lighting setup, or you try using a flash, which doesn't look all that great. So instead, I say why not make do with what you have?
You can read my article about lighting for paupers here, but in this write up I'd like to talk a bit about shooting headshots without any lighting setup at all! The main key is to ensure you have white balanced properly. Sometimes it is nice to white balance to a slightly blue card, therefore giving your images a slightly orange tint-something that looks beautiful if employed correctly and not overused.
But I want to talk about using a wide aperture and available light right now. I recommend buying a 50mm or 85mm f/1.4 lens. This will let in a large amount of light and will give you a beautifully shallow depth of field, perfect for headshot photography. Of course these lenses are very expensive, but I recommend them over the f1.8 lenses. If you have a Canon camera, get an f/1.2 if you can afford it... Read my article about choosing the right lens for more information.
The reason I recommend the f/1.4 is because the amount of blurring it offers is unbelievable. It renders the headshot client's ears out of focus, and let's in so much light that you can hand hold an indoor shot with no flash. It's the most useful lens (especially the 50mm on a DX camera because there is less camera shake due to the shorter focal length) I have come across. Besides the amount of light it lets in and the depth of field, it is also very helpful because of it's sharpness. If you can precisely focus on the subjects eyes, you'll notice how crystal clear and beautiful the headshot comes out.
Lighting indoors is always a problem, especially if you have no windows. But for any occasion, the best fix for indoor lighting is a simple bounce board. It makes a worlds difference to have someone hold up a white card and let the light fill in all the harsh shadows on your headshot client's face. Try it sometime. Forget the lights and everything. Just use an f/1.4 lens and a bounce board, and you'll get great shots.
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