Daniel Peter-Cunningham

Daniel Peter-Cunningham (Actor’s Headshots)

This photo is from a nice relaxed headshots session I did on Wednesday with Daniel Peter-Cunningham. Dan and I are old friends, and by some strange coincidence have both been in Poland learning Georgian polyphonic songs. There was some impromptu singing in between set ups - I must try this on people more often. I wanted to use a variety of lighting set ups to get a wide range of different looks. Everything was done on location using two speedlights and a reflector - the sun was obviously useful too sometimes.

The shot above is a one light setup with a single umbrella. I love doing this, and I find it often works to give an almost-natural look shooting outside on location. The sun is coming in as a back light and being underexposed about a stop. I'd have liked to take it down a bit more, but without an ND filter it was a choice between getting the wall out of focus or dark - so I compromised and toned it down a bit more in post. The umbrella is up slightly above eye level to camera left and very close in. I think I was on half power with the flash, and f/5.6 at 1/200. There's no reflector as the ambient light is doing enough to fill the dark side of Dan's face. If I had used an ND filter and underexposed the ambient a bit more I would have had to add a reflector (no space for a fill light).

The shot below is something a little more cinematic that I was interested to try. This is not a typical actor's headshot, but as I mentioned to Dan, I thought we could try something a bit more experimental. We only did about five frames like this, but it was one of my favourite lighting setups of the shoot. In this case the umbrella is to camera right and closer to 90 degrees but feathered forwards, just above eye level again. The background is a white wall at 45 degrees to the camera. I put a second flash to camera right pointed straight at the wall. It took a couple of test shots to get it pointed right so that it created a large spotlight behind the dark side of Dan's face, as well as the bounce giving him a little bit of a back light. There ended up being quite a lot of fill from those two lights hitting the white wall, so I didn't need to add a reflector. If I were to shoot it entirely for myself, I would gel the main light CTO and the back light blue - but as this was a headshot session I didn't want to spend any time messing about with colours (especially when the end product is mainly black and white!), and in this case I added some subtle split toning in lightroom. This is f/5.6 and 1/200 again, which in this case killed the ambient completely.

Daniel Cunningham

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