Headshots at Home – an introduction


This month, we’ll be sharing a series of posts that will give you a fantastic insight into DIY portrait photography that you can do at home, giving you plenty of opportunities to capture great images of friends and family that you can use to create great canvas prints as gifts or for your own keepsakes.


When you buy your first DSLR or compact system camera you'll probably shoot whatever is in front of you with an enthusiasm akin to a kid at Christmas! After a while though, the areas that you're particularly drawn to will become clearer. That's when you can start thinking about homing in on different genres of photography.  One that is becoming more and more popular, especially for photographers with families, is home studio portrait photography. 


Where to begin?


The beauty of this kind of photography is that you can, within reason, use any consumer CSC or DSLR and kit lens. Why? Well, in studio photography you're nearly always shooting with quite a bit of depth of field so have no need for fast glass. Even your kit lens will be beautifully sharp at around f/5.6 - f/9, which, for headshots, will be more than enough depth of field. Also, because we’ll be using off camera flash in some form, you will be shooting primarily at base ISO so there's no need for a camera with decent high ISO performance.


What else do I need?


A decent flashgun is often one of the things new photographers pretend that they don't need because they can seem complicated and a little scary. However, once you get to grips with a few basic rules, they’ll open so many doors and give you proper control of your light. The beauty of studio work is that you'll have no need to learn to balance the two exposures - ambient and flash - instead you'll be shooting at or near your max sync speed. More on that later in the series...


You’ll also need some kind of modifier to soften the light - a white shoot-through umbrella from eBay will do just fine to begin with. These are cheaper than the salt and vinegar you put on your chips and quite versatile. You'll also need a lightstand - Konig make perfectly adequate ones for about fifteen quid - and an umbrella adaptor for about the same money.


Last, but by no means least, you'll need triggers and receivers to get your light off camera. Chinese company Yongnuo make some incredible triggers for virtually nothing. Again, eBay is the place to find either RF-602s or RF-603s.


Next week we'll look a little closer at the gear you need and how to set yourself up to start shooting...