Capturing a Creative But Professional Headshot

In a photography skills demo, I was given 30 minutes total to capture a creative but professional headshot with a partner. In that time we both had to shoot and submit a headshot of one another. In the 15 minute photography skills demo we needed to fulfill the following criteria:

  1. lighting/auxiliary lighting
  2. focused composition
  3. separation between the subject and the background (Bokah)
  4. balanced light and color
  5. zoom – no wide angle lens distorting facial features
  6. creativity shown
  7. resized to 1800 px on the long side

If we had time we were allowed to edit. My partner for this challenge was Wrigley Rose.


Brigham Young University-Idaho campus is beautiful, with large grassy areas, flower beds, and trees. And most of the examples given for this skills demo used the botanic beauty of the campus as a background. Because of this I wanted to do something different and went for a more urban and powerful feel. As much as I love the roses and beautiful flowers they don’t really scream professional to me and didn’t really seem to fit my subject.

Instead, I went to a cement stair case coming down from the Manwaring Center under the skybridge. The bottom of the skybridge is a reflective metal and it provided a soft shade at 3 in the afternoon, when the light is usually pretty harsh.


I then set up two speed lights with Rouge FlashBenders and defuser panels. I used the large flash bender in front and to the right. I raised it up on a light stand to have the light come from above. I then set up the other speed light with the smaller flash bender behind her to the left on a foot. I also used a gold reflector to the left to reflect some of the light back up from the speed light above her. I wish I had my tripod since I normally use it to hold my reflector when I don’t have a handy assistant.



This was my submission for the 15 minute photography skills demo since I didn’t have time to edit other than to resize the image.


I learned a lot from this skills demo because it taught me to work faster and think ahead while I walk. As we were waiting to leave on the demo, I was thinking about my subject and what kinds of locations would fit her personality and the purpose of the headshot. This allowed me to find a location faster once we started walking around, because I could discount a lot of the locations with more greenery that I would normally be drawn to for senior or family pictures.



Being who I am, I wanted to see how long it would take me to edit the picture after I submitted the other one. The general edits took about 15 minutes more and with the more extensive edits it took about 30-45 minutes total. Although I prefer the edited image, I did learn that if I shoot with more of a film mentality, that it needs to be good enough straight out of camera, it helps reduce the amount of post work that needs to be done and ups the overall quality.

I used the spot healing brush tool for the skin and then used a combo of that and the clone stamp tool to remove the bra straps on her shoulders. I felt like they were distracting with everything else at her neckline and I wanted to keep the focus on her face. I also use sharpening and blur filters with masking layers. I used the lightening mode on the brush tool at a low opacity to lighten up her eyes a bit.


After having a little more time to go through the images, here are a few more of my favorites from the shoot of less than 15 minutes.



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