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How important is a headshot photographer’s equipment?

How important is a headshot photographer’s equipment?

If you read internet forums, or talk to some professionals regarding the importance of equipment, many will tell you that it’s the photographer that takes great pictures, not the equipment. I think I’m one of the few people who maybe disagrees with this sentiment, and in this article, I’ll advance my position.

Equipment matters

When I’m shooting headshots, for me, the equipment is everything. Many headshot photographers seem to get by with very little equipment. And while I am in no way trying to belittle them, it does go some way to explain why a lot of headshot photography seems very similar.

If you shoot “natural light” in the same location, the chances are that the only real differences in your shots will be the angle of the shadows and the face in the picture. If you take 50 headshots at 1pm in your back garden, I wouldn’t expect much variety. For me, the ability to adapt the light and control it is what will give you a killer headshot.

As far as my studio equipment goes, I have about 10 lights, 4 softboxes of varying sizes from 6 feet to 2 feet, 2 octoboxes, 3 strip boxes, 1 beauty dish, 1 ringflash, 1 Proglobe, several diffusion panels, several reflectors varying from gold to silver to white, multiple flags, grids, snoots, and gels of every colour imaginable! I only use a couple lenses, though, and I have a couple of camera bodies.

In a headshot session, I will use at least 50% of that equipment to get the results I want. If I was limited to a natural light location and a couple of reflectors, all of my work would look like everyone else using that set up.

Of course, I also shoot natural light, but I try to vary it. I’m lucky to have a lot of abandoned buildings on the land my studio is on, and I have permission to use them. I take clients in there and we find great light. Dusty windows with direct sunlight coming through make amazing golden softboxes. Doorways create amazing short lighting. The backgrounds are nice and dirty, so when they’re out of focus, you get a really unique, and non-distracting mottling that always looks amazing in a headshot.

So to me, it’s all about the equipment. I’d find it very hard, near impossible, in fact, to generate the quality of light I get from a gridded beauty dish using a softbox. But there are certain pictures that can ONLY be achieved using a gridded beauty dish.

Time for a change

I think a lot of headshot photographers have had it their own way for far too long! Headshots should be more than just a few moody black and whites against the same background. The possibilities in your headshot session are limitless, so why stick to black and white? CCP and SL now take colour shots, so I think it’s time to move on. Maybe it’s just the commercial photographer in me, but I’d find it hard to justify the £200 session fee I charge if I didn’t feel I was doing everything I could to ensure my clients get the best possible shots locksmithspros.com.


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