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I’ve mentioned before, although not often enough that I’m sure all my readers know, but I am going to get into portrait photography very seriously soon. I am going to acquire some serious studio lighting equipment and make some portfolio images to promote this part of my business.

I thought today I’d write about some of what I learned with my first real experiment with this sort of photography. In this instance I had used a softbox on a Canon speedlight.

With the photos of the young woman, I went with clamshell lighting. The speedlight was mounted in the softbox above and to the front and we used a reflector below, with a second speedlight in a Lastolite Backlight to provide the white background. The mistake I made here was positioning the softbox too much above and not enough forward, shadowing her eyes more than I’d like. This problem might have been stopped if I was shooting tethered, making it easier to see that it was a problem while I was still shooting.

With the photos of the young man, the idea was to create an edgy photo of him playing bass with a balanced ambient exposure from the street scene. The big mistake I made here was that I did this too late at night and it was impossible to balance the street’s ambient light. I now know that the best way to pull off this look is to do a composite with the portrait being lit in the edgy three light method; two gridded flashes behind for rim light and a beauty dish above and to the front for fill. I’ve started shooting backgrounds for trying it again this way.