Home photography ideas: How to take high-quality headshots at home

Watch video: Home photography ideas – High quality headshots at home

Have your family members or housemates been waiting to update their headshots? Whether they want to freshen up their LinkedIn profile, company website or even just take a fresh Facebook picture, here's how you can take a high quality headshot even if you only have a small space and one studio light and softbox! 

We know that people can be put off by using lights, as they can seem expensive and complex to use, but it’s not as complicated as you may think – you have full control of your lighting conditions and, therefore, your photos. We’re also going to prove  that you only need one lighting head for great, professional-looking headshots.

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Home photography ideas

We’re using a large softbox because the larger your light source is, the softer the light it will produce – and the more flattering it will be for portraits. Softboxes also produce square catchlights in the eyes, bringing portraits to life. We’re using a small yet powerful Elinchrom D-Lite RX 4 head, which is reliable and simple to control.

We’ve shot at an aperture around f/13 for good depth of field, so that the whole subject is sharp. For a shallower depth of field, use an aperture of around f/5.6 and reduce lighting power accordingly for a good exposure. 

01 Small studio setup

(Image credit: Future)

For our white backdrop, we simply used a Lastolite Super White paper backdrop on stands in our small kitchen. We’re using just one Elinchrom D-Lite RX 4 flash head with a Rotalux 90x110cm softbox to the right, with patio window light to the left.

02 Camera & lens setup

(Image credit: Future)

We’re using a full-frame Canon EOS 6D Mark II, and our versatile Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L lens. We’re using this so that we can capture tighter head-and-shoulders compositions with the twist of the zoom, all without crowding our subject. 

03 Manual camera control

(Image credit: Future)

When using studio lights, you’ll need to use manual mode to control your aperture and shutter speed. For enough depth of field for close-up headshots, we suggest shooting at an aperture around f/11 to f/13, with a shutter between 1/125 to 1/160 sec and an ISO of 100. 

04 Wireless trigger

(Image credit: Future)

We’re using an Elinchrom EL-Skyport wireless trigger attached to the top of our 6D Mark II’s hotshoe, which will fire our Elinchrom studio light remotely. If we had more studio lights, we could trigger them all together as necessary.

05 Lights, camera, action

(Image credit: Future)

Now it’s just a case of adjusting the light power on the head for a balanced exposure. We factored in the window light to the left and therefore, with our exposure set, we set the flash head power to 2.6 for our headshots.

06 Professional poses

(Image credit: Future)

You don’t want people smiling or laughing too much in headshots, as it can look unprofessional. Instead aim for more a engaged look, with a gentle smile. Capture a variety of expressions, and from a slightly raised position for more flattering results.

More videos: 

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Essential portrait photography tips
Stuck at home: 11 fantastic photo projects to try indoors during the COVID-19 crisis

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Peter Travers

The editor of PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine, Peter 14 years of experience as both a journalist and professional photographer. He is a hands-on photographer with a passion and expertise for sharing his practical shooting skills. Equally adept at turning his hand to portraits, landscape, sports and wildlife, he has a fantastic knowledge of camera technique and principles. As you'd expect of the editor of a Canon publication, Peter is a devout Canon user and can often be found reeling off shots with his EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR.