Lawyer headshots – Corporate portraits on location

Business headshot for a Dallas attorney.

Background

Occasionally I am asked to do a photo assignment that I am not all that excited about. When I received the call for a business portrait on location in Dallas, I was looking forward to the assignment. Then, I heard that the photo session would be outside, in July, I was less than thrilled, but didn’t think too much about it. This is part of the professional photographer’s job description. Then I found out that the time of the assignment would be about as bad as they get for an outside photo assignment, noonish.

What lighting makes for a nice portrait?

Soft lighting is normally the preference for wonderful portraiture. It helps soften the imperfections in the skin of your subjects. Therefore, most outdoor professional portraiture is created either early in the day, or late in the afternoon; when the sun is low. The skin is softer, the subject is less likely to squint, and in hot locations, the cooler temperature is easier for the subject to tolerate. Since 11am was a good fit for each of our schedules, and the photo was needed quickly, it was just a matter of doing the best that I could with whatever conditions existed. The subject, Ray Jackson, has written a suspense novel and needed a photo for the inside cover. Ray had a preference for a certain gazebo at a small city park in Highland Park, just north of downtown Dallas. Location and time was nailed down.

 

 

Headshot of Ray Jackson, Dallas lawyer.

Headshot of Ray Jackson, Dallas lawyer.

When I arrived I immediately started looking for locations that would be suitable. Direct sun was abundant, making many locations less than desirable. This was obvious, so I brought some light modifiers from the trunk of my car, just in case I found an ideal location with less than desirable natural lighting. To make matter worse, the park was under construction, so parts of the park were totally off limits, both as a location, and as a background. Homes encircled the small park, each begging to be a part of my background. A fountain was in direct sun near the center of the park. Not a suitable background option at all. Fountains are one of the most used, and one of the worst backgrounds (in my opinion). I may go into this subject later, if someone asks about it.

The large white gazebo was an obvious location for either a background, or location for the subject. As far as I was concerned, I wanted to limit the depth of field (what appears to be in focus). One way to do that is with lens selection (a telephoto lens is much better at creating soft, mushy backgrounds). Another factor for out of focus backgrounds is a “wide open” lens setting. The lens aperture setting controls the amount of light coming through the lens. The correct photographic exposure is a result of a careful balance of lens opening (aperture) and the amount of time the light hits the sensor (shutter speed). The larger the opening, the less depth of field (apparent amount of sharpness in the scene).  Since I didn’t want the background to compete with the subject, I used camera settings that limited depth of field.

 

Similar image, but this one is retouched-

 

Retouched similar image of author/lawyer Ray Jackson

Retouched similar image of author/lawyer Ray Jackson

For the above photos, I stood on a bench in the gazebo and used the natural light as the main light source. By shooting from a higher angle, I eliminated the homes, and gave an angle that was a bit unusual (adding impact). The slightly blue light on the left of the image is coming from a Westcott softbox with my Nikon flash. I added a slightly blue piece of plastic (gel) to the flash for a bit more impact.

The background in the photo below has a home or two in it, as well as a street. The limited depth of field makes none of those items obvious. Another factor in getting out of focus backgrounds is getting close to your subject. The closer to the subject you are, the less depth of field (at a given aperture). For this image, the Westcott softbox was used as a main light, and the ambient (natural) light was the rim light.

 

Blask and white Ray Jackson

Blask and white Ray Jackson

 

© 2015 Richard K. Dalton, photos and text.

 

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