What photographer doesn’t have a decent headshot of themselves? This is 2017 after all and personal connection is a huge factor in business success.

Well… I didn’t… It’s true. For years I’ve never had a real portrait of myself. For whatever reason, I just never made it a priority. I finally did though – out of necessity. I was applying for a staff marketing photographer position at a local corporation here in Bend, OR so I needed to have something for my application that was better than the candid photos I’ve been using for years.

It wasn’t easy though as I had to make these alone. My wife wasn’t available because of her work schedule so I had to get real friendly with my camera self-timer. Shooting a shallow DOF self-portrait from a tripod is tricky to say the least. It took me a few hours to get these right, but persistence pays off. For someone who has never had a portrait of himself that he really likes, I like these.


The Process

The light source was 2 Octacool 9 softboxes. Each light has 9 bulbs which can be individually turned on or off allowing for a lot of flexibility with the intensity of light. For most of these, I had only one bulb turned on for the key light because I wanted a dramatic shadowy look. Also, for the dark background shots, I positioned myself about 6 feet away from the background to make sure that the light wasn’t hitting it. For the white background shots, I used a reverse key set up. That means that the brightest light was actually behind me and about 45 degrees to the side out of the frame. This creates the rear rim light effect. For those I used the 2nd softbox with 4 or 5 bulbs turned on.

After I got the “required” images that I wanted, I decided to have a little fun too by moving the light stand slightly into the frame for some added composition and context. In the last image, I took that idea even further by placing the softbox slightly in front of the camera and creating a dark triangle in the upper corner. I think the abstract shape and the unlit light in the background give it a cool context and feel.

I also learned something about why I’ve never liked pictures I’ve had done in the past. I hadn’t realized this, but I never followed the very advice that I always give my own clients when it comes to choosing attire. I’ve always told them not to dress up unless it’s normal for them; they should feel comfortable and cool. In the past, I’ve always worn a nice button up shirt, but that’s not my normal choice. My go-to style of choice is a plain black t-shirt. I’ve always been that way but never thought that’s what I should wear for portraits. In this case, I did it by accident. I actually put on a button up shirt for these, but I took it off because it was hot while I was setting up. I took the first photo without it just for a light test, and when I looked at it, I really liked it. So I left the button up laying aside and kept going. Lesson learned: just be yourself.

I’d love to know what you think? Which one do you think is best and why?

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