Last month I was shooting headshots for fabulous architects RLB. They also wanted a natural teamshot to use on their global recruitment pages. The image needed to be candid, natural, bright and reflecting the diverse nature of the company. It also had to be cropped wide.
We knew that we wouldn’t have long to actually shoot it as we had a lot of headshots to get done and also we were taking people away from their work. First we found a large communal desk that we knew we could easily fit 4 people around. We also wanted to include windows. However this was a dark December afternoon in London, so I knew I would have to work hard to get it looking bright both inside and out, whilst retaining a nice crisp image. This was made even harder by the ubiquitous poor office lighting.
After selecting the best location I had to decide on the lighting. The examples they had shown me looked like they were all shot in California in Summer, so how was I going to transform this dark London afternoon? Well I started with 4 flashes; 2 at the front, bouncing off the ceiling to light the subjects faces with a broad, soft light, then 2 flashes behind pointing at the walls. These 2 were lighting the background, but I had to be careful they did not reflect in the windows. I fired a few test shots with my helpful stand in model and although the shot looked pretty good, it seemed a bit flat, not like a sunny day in Silicon Valley. This is where a bit of fake sun came in. So I grabbed another flash, positioned it high near the window, the same angle as the sun would come in and I pointed it right towards my subjects. I zoomed the flash in so it was a tight, hard light and I put an orange gel on it to give that warm sunny glow. This light really made a difference and was the missing piece of the puzzle I was looking for. You can really notice it on the 2 people on the right of the image. The shadow cast by the womans hair on her face and the backlighting on the guy.
I was pretty pleased with the end result and I feel I did well to transform a dark December day and dull office lighting into something bright, sunny and natural.