For corporate headshot clients I’m often required to match a look that’s been established by another photographer. Sometimes I’m provided a detailed PDF of instructions on lighting and posing from the art department but more often than not it’s all about recreating the lighting based on what can been seen on the company website.
For these jobs I have created a quick mental checklist to get as close as possible.
Lighting the subject
- What direction and angle is the key light coming from?
- How soft is the light?
- How much fill light is used?
- How is the hair light treated? One side only, both sides?
- How is the backdrop lit? Evenly? With a light gradient?
- What backdrop is being used and which backdrop in my collection matches it closely?
More on the matching the backdrop
Matching the backdrop is often the trickiest part. I always try to achieve the closest look in camera but to get a perfect match it’s often necessary to take the final image into photoshop. Even with a simple gray backdrop I manipulate it to match the luminosity and light gradient exactly. Often I need to match specific colors that have been achieved with colored backdrop or gels on the lights. I will gel to get as close as possible and then finalize in the retouching phase. For painted studio backdrops there are simply too many color variations to own them all. In this situation I choose the backdrop with the most similar texture and match the colors in post.