Commercial portrait session – my setup

I do a lot of commercial head shots for professional clients.  I thought it would be good to share my set-up, apologise, as some of the shots are off my iPhone 3gs, not the greatest indoor camera phone!

Generally I carry:

  • 1 x large lastolite hilite pop up background, 6′ x7′ I think
  • 4 x 400w Lumen 8 head units in travel bags
  • 4 x gas strut light supports
  • 2 x brolleys and 2 x soft boxes
  • Rolling kit box (light meter, cokin filters – ND etc and circ polorisers, power cables, remote sync, back up sync cables, exention chord, cable ties, business cards, spare flash batteries, grey card, bayonets x 4, pen, paper, bottles of water and hidden bar of chocolate!)
  • Think Tank camera belt (spare battery, 8 x 8gb CF cards, flash, batteries, lens cloth and blower, spare lens caps)
  • Nikon D3s 50mm, 24-70 and 70-200, SB800
  • Manfrotto tripod and mono pods
  • Bottle top reflector

All fits neatly into the boot of our new Ford Grand C-Max (except the background) – which is great as the luggage cover still pulls over for added security.  I do carry a lot, but on many occasions clients will ask for shots of buildings or equipment, which means I can adjust easily and meet their needs immediately.

Here is the end result to accompany a press release:

This is the room I set-up in, just had to move the boardroom table out of the way.  I always tidy up when I leave and put everything back how I find it, I never expect the client to set the room up etc – seems obvious, or maybe not?  Also I dress to fit in with the client – today white shirt and suit pants, not jeans and T-shirt.  I have contracted photographers over the years for other businesses and many of them seem to think it is ok to look like they have just got out of bed, really unprofessional to have them in my offices.


Two light set-up today, I quite like the fall off to the bottom of the shot.  For more space I will shoot with two rear lights into the background, a front soft box, and sometime a brolly for hairlights.  For some clients space is a corner of an office and I will substitue the soft box for the SB800 with mini lastolite flash ezybox – works a treat.


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