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Hi and welcome back.

Right after I got home from CA, I had a corporate headshot sitting.

For this type of shot, I usually use a three light setup:

  • Key light with a reflector
  • Hair light
  • Background light


But when my client walked through the door of my studio, I wanted to take a different approach.  Once I saw her facial features, I decide to try over and under beauty or clamshell lighting.

This is a technique to light for beauty headshots like for L’Oreal or Maybelline advertisements, where the sole purpose is to highlight the face.

I set my lighting for over and under beauty and had Abi stand in position.  I often have my corporate clients stand instead of sit.  I find that standing allows jackets to fall naturally and people are generally easier to pose when standing.

Here’s my setup:

  • Hensel Porty 1200L with head on a Matthews C-stand and Hollywood Grip Arm
  • Chimera 30″ beauty dish with diffusion screen installed
  • Hensel Integra 500 on the bottom
  • Hensel 16×25 kit softbox


I usually run my fill light at least 1 stop lower in power than my key.   We worked fairly quickly so I was able to give her several background options.  With blue being a strong color influence on her website, she loved the blue background.


And here’s the final.

Nikon D3, 105 mm f/2 DC

I did some simple retouching and that’s it.  You can se the double catchlight in her eyes.

You can do this technique with a reflector as well, but I opted for the two light solution this time.

Abi Smith Headshots 8 26 20131030 copyMy normal lens for this kind of work is the 70-200 vr, but with being on the road so much these days, I’ve decided to lighten my kit a bit.

I’ve owned the 105 f/2 DC for a while but rarely used it.  After shooting this job, I love, love it!!

The Defocus Control lens is a specialty lens that you really need to practice and master as the DC function allows you to change the Bokeh or out-of-focus backgrounds.  Here my aperture in camera was set to f/11, but I set my Defocus Control (DC) to f/2.  By doing this, I got amazing sharpness in the foreground and let the background falloff while she only stood about 3 feet in front of the blue paper.

Nikon 105 f/2 DC

That’s it.  I’ve got a full round of headshot sittings next week, so I’ll be posting more on them soon.

Till then, happy shooting!