Portrait photography has many combined skills which a photographer should build in time.
I love taking headshots/portraits in natural daylight and in my opinion this is the best form of light one can use to lit a face.
When you learn to “play” with the outdoor lighting conditions you would feel the same.
All further advice is to get a proper portrait/headshot but there are always exceptions that depend on what you want to get as a result.
The worst thing you can do to a portrait is to use direct sunlight on it, it kills skin quality and usually the eyes suffer not to mention the harsh shadows. Don’t do it unless you know what you’re doing.
The best lighting condition for a face are those hours at sunrise just before and after it. Sunset hours of course included and they can be equally great. If you need to take a portrait/headshot in the hours between sunrise/sunset you have to find the place conditions that proximate the sunrise/sunset hour conditions. That said try finding deep shadows and place your subject there, keep in mind that you are working with reflected light, that means that what ever your subjects face has in front, it will reflect upon it. So you would be working with the light that just reflected on the surrounding surfaces and now is lighting your portrait/headshot. What are these surfaces are of most importance to your work. The material glossy or mat, the color, the relative angle. You don’t really want a red wall reflecting red light to your subject.
Bad weather ? This is one of the best time for a portrait/headshot shooting. Well, extremes not included. freezing temperatures and strong winds won’t help but cloudy weather even dark low rainy conditions are your best ally, light reflections resembling the perfect studio soft box equipment, there are virtually no shadows and faces look gorgeous.
Get used to pay attention to all of these as outside factors, as this is your studio equipment. And its so reasonably priced…
Make sure and be meticulous about the background of your portrait/headshot, this is of most importance as well. The image of the back will either bring out the face or swallow it. This is why it is not unreasonable to pay around 2000$ for a lens. Using an open aperture lens as the canon 85 f1.2 it will promote the focus point and separate it from the background. That doesn’t mean you have to work at f1.2 not at all, I prefer to work between f3.2 and f5.6, but the excellent build in bokeh(perfectly soft blur for out of focus points) will help a lot. The slightest turn of the head or the position of the camera will reveal a different background face combination, thus result feeling of your photo. This is to your advantage and disadvantage as well, you just need to pay great attention at the time of shooting.
Clothing plays a strong role and its always according to the result you want to get out of your portraiture but in every case your model/subject should feel comfortable wearing it.
Your model/subject is giving you his face/time and the best you can do is to cherish it. Be positive at all times never mention that he/she has a stressed or silly face or anything negative about his/her face, it will always result to unwanted feelings on your subjects part and you don’t want that. What you are looking for is to make that face relax and stay natural, we all have the tendency to change our facial features when posing for a photo, its easier. The hard part is to stay natural and relaxed in time looking at the camera. At least this is what I’m looking for, in my portraits.
Have fun 🙂
Rainy daylight portrait Renee Galanou
Daylight portrait Natalie Tapper