So as a full time photographer, one of the most common questions I get is “where is your studio?” Well… I don’t have a studio. Is that weird? I’m not sure. Maybe. I do all of my shoots on location and with natural light- and that’s how I like it.
I think there’s still a place in this world for studio driven work, but it’s just not my style. Although I’ve done work on static backgrounds with lighting before, I find that I am much more inspired and satisfied with my work when I am out in the world creating it.
My friend Abigail was looking for new headshots for her professional dancing career (she gets to travel all over the world to do performance work!) so I was excited to get to dream up some colorful ideas with her! I’ve done a few headshot sessions in the same area in Mid-City Baton Rouge where some colorful walls are, but with every client it’s a different experience and I get completely different results.
Here are my top 5 tips for photographing headshots on location and not in a studio:
Find A Versatile Spot
I think people really underestimate how much magic photographers can make with any given location. Between strategic cropping, depth of field, and a creative eye, an otherwise mundane spot can end up being perfect for close up headshots from the perspective of a photographer. I like to bring clients to spots that will make the most out of our time together. This might mean a colorful wall that’s also near a white wall that’s also near an area with greenery that might also be near some graffiti… you get the picture. It doesn’t have to be anything super glamorous- I literally had Abigail sit down against a dumpster for one of the shots. I want to be able to walk around and get a ton of different shots within a short time frame so we don’t waste time driving from location to location.
Tell Your Client to Bring A Few Looks
If you’re going to make the most of your time by shooting in a few different spots, you might as well have your subject change shirts or something too. This way you can really milk the shoot and get multiple looks out of it. Sometimes just the simple changing of a shirt or hairstyle can inspire you in a whole new way even if you’re just crossing the street to take photos somewhere else.
Photographer Secret: You can also cheat a little bit with editing. The photo above and below were both taken in front of the same wall, but I changed the HSL sliders when editing the predominant blue tones in the shot to give a few different final options for her.
Strive to Shoot in Shade or on a Cloudy Day
Everyone likes to think that cloudy days mean rescheduling, HOWEVER the clouds act as a natural soft box or lighting diffuser for the sun! This is the same concept as what you’d be getting in a studio with the giant umbrella over the flash. I always try to shoot in shade when I can so that skin tones look even, and if it’s an overcast day then shade doesn’t matter and you can shoot anywhere.
Change Up Your Perspective
Don’t just take every photo from eye level! Get up high, get down low, have your client sit on a curb or stand up higher than you. Play around with it!
Always try to shoot with a shallow depth of field if you can so that your subject is distanced from the background. If you’re shooting against a plain wall but you place your client a few feet away from it and shoot at like 1.4 or 1.8, you can really cheat the effect of having a professional back drop because the wall textures are now so out of focus that they aren’t as visible.
And most important of all… just get your client to relax! Get comfortable with them, make them laugh, and make sure they feel at home.
Need headshots? Contact me here to set something up!