My annual reunions with Amy from here on out will probably consist of constantly trying to make better and better headshots within the confines of a hotel room, using a minimalistic setup. These soft light portraits were our latest effort and I’ll show you how they were done.
Amy and I have created photos together nearly every year since 2008, and this is the second time we’ve made portraits in a hotel room with what I can only describe as a low-budget lighting setup.
These soft light portraits, from September 2014, were created with only natural window light and a gold reflector (VIEW ON AMAZON) and literally nothing else. The gold reflector was a great match for the soft gold tones that Amy used in her eye makeup. As I didn’t have a stand or a reflector arm (VIEW ON AMAZON), I had to hold the camera and lens with one hand, and the reflector with another. Not an easy task if you’ve ever tried it!
Speaking of camera and lens, I used the Nikon D610 FX DSLR camera (VIEW ON AMAZON) and Nikon 85mm FX ƒ/1.8G AF-S lens (VIEW ON AMAZON) for these portraits, which is a decently hand-holdable combination. What made it a hell of a lot easier though was the addition of a vertical battery grip (VIEW ON AMAZON). With the grip added, you not only get more battery life, you get a much better, more comfortable way to hold your camera and trip the shutter for vertical images. Highly recommended.
Do you see the circular catchlight in Amy’s eyes in the images above? That’s the reflector. Because I had Amy positioned with her back to the window in my hotel room, the reflector was the easiest way to throw some light back on to her face. It also helped that we did this photo shoot as the sun was shining directly in the windows, giving ample brightness. I love the soft angelic glow that the backlighting provides. That being said, I still had to shoot at ISO 1000 and ƒ/2.5 to get enough light to the camera sensor.
The lead image at the top of this post and the one below were both shot sans reflector, but that’s because more of the window light was falling directly on Amy’s face.
To see more photos, get the latest updates on my work, and find out where I’ll travel to next, follow @vtographyy on Instagram.
Shop Amazon for the gear I used for these soft light portraits
- Nikon D610 FX Full Frame DSLR Camera with Nikon MB-D14 Battery Grip
- Nikon 85mm FX ƒ/1.8G AF-S Lens
- 36”x48” 5-in-1 Reflector
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