It’s great to have a studio space again – creativity comes out in a completely different way in the studio. I was asked to do some modern head shots somewhat akin to the ones that are all over the internet of Marissa Mayer (the new CEO of Yahoo) on solid colored backgrounds.

Head Shot of Marissa Mayer

Client’s Inspiration: Head Shot of Marissa Mayer

I had recently taken a course by master photographer Scott Robert Lim called Crazy Stupid Light, and immediately recognized the technique.  This is something that would have been difficult to achieve outdoors or in my small home office, so I was glad to have an almost complete new studio to work in!

I love stretching myself creatively so I agreed to the job and headed over to the studio to experiment.  I brought my set of Roscoe Strobist gels, my speed light, and two of my regular Elinchrom studio lights.

I didn’t have anyone to be my model, so I got creative.  (When I work with high school students teaching them the basics of video and photography I always tell them the number one thing you need in order to be an artist is resourcefulness!)  I pulled over my step stool, set a roll of roofing tar paper on it that was lying around from the siding project last week, and on top of that an empty paint can from our recent interior wall painting party.  My model was now about 5’8″ tall, and with both black and white extremes was a perfect subject for light testing purposes!

This is what the room looked like (pretty much) before I set up…  We have primed the walls and painted the back wall light gray as well as moving that junk to the right side, but otherwise it’s the same:



Here are the photos I shot of the paint can in this space:


Can you believe that I didn’t change anything in these photos except for the color gel on the back light?  They were all shot at the exact same distance from the exact same gray wall.  I printed this sheet out and allowed my clients to choose the color they wanted to go with their different outfits.  In the end we came out with some amazing shots, and it was so nice not to have to worry about rolling out various colors of paper to get a variety of looks.  Here are a couple of my favorites, again taken on the exact same gray wall without changing the camera settings or lighting setup at all – just the color gel!

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For those who are interested, I was shooting with a 100mm lens at iso 100, shutter speed 160, and F10 with my front lights soft boxed and feathered and my back light at full power about 9′ from the back wall. I adjusted my front lights to match and all was peachy. Let me know if you want your own super duper modern color wash head shots!

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