John Fiore’s Headshot: Lighting Setup Breakdown

I had the amazing opportunity to photograph actor John Fiore, AKA Gigi on the Sopranos and Detective Tony Profaci on Law and Order.  Having someone with his level of gravitas in front of my lens was such a treat.  

To get this shot I used 1 eVOLV200 pro (AD200 Pro) unit with the barebulb inside a double diffused gridded Glow EZ Lock 10″×24″ Quick Strip Softbox for the kicker on camera right.  I set this one up first to make sure I have the kick placed exactly where I want it and to make sure it isn’t going to spill on to my subject’s nose.

On camera left I used an Xplor 300 Pro TTL (Godox AD-300 Pro) inside a double diffused Glow EZ Lock 12″×36″ Quick Strip Softbox.  This was my key light.  On camera right angled downward was another Xplor 300 inside a 12″x36″ double diffused softbox but the power was much lower as it was only acting as fill. I shoot off a test shot with just the fill to make sure it aimed properly and isn’t overpoweringly bright.

Then I turn on the key light and fire a test shot.  I decide the key needs to be just a tad bit brighter and the fill a tad bit darker. 

Just the right amount of shadow and highlights!

 Time to shoot. And let John be John!  I had him turn a bit to the side and give me some attitude for the pictures after this and the one at the top was my favorite from this part of the session.

On either side of John I had black pop up backdrops as flags so I didn’t get any bounce from my white studio walls.  It was shot on a white X-Drop backdrop which I didn’t illuminate so it would just fall away to gray.  You can see the lights are very close in.  Here I am just checking out the setup as to where the lights are falling in my frame.  The subject is about an arms distance away from the lights, maybe just a little closer. And the key light is aimed towards his opposite shoulder, not directly at his face. You want the feathered edge of the light hitting your subject.

X marks the spot.  With this setup your subject has to be in just the right spot to catch the edge of the light the way you want it to.  So I throw some tape down on the floor to help keep me aware of where they are standing.  The camera is angled upwards.

The gridded kicker is far at the back.

I learned this setup from being a member of Peter Hurley’s Headshot Crew.  If you are interested in learning how to really excel at taking headshots, joining his crew is the way to go! You can see how he sets up his continuous Westcott flex lights for his men’s setup in this video. 

I processed the image in Capture One Pro and darkened down the background a little for some more drama. And got rid of the cut on his chin in Photoshop.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Stacey

    Hi! Love this! Just wanted to confirm as I’m not sure. Is this a parallel light setup in the front? For some reason I was unsure as I thought you described 2 lights camera left. Also, with the fill light camera right you tilted that light downward, right? Thanks!

    1. Vail

      It is not parallel. It is modified triangle for men’s lighting. Although you don’t have to limit it to men only. Good catch on camera left thing. Just edited the post. I meant to write the second ad300pro was camera right. It is angled downwards and the light is turned at an angle. It is further out of the frame than in typical triangle beauty light setup.

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