I call it the 3-in-1 Headshot Method. As a professional photographer it is imperative that you are able to adapt to your surrounds and the needs of your clients. I run into a situation quite a bit where my client doesn't know exactly what they want out of their headshot session so it’s my job to give them multiple options. In many cases my clients are very busy and they may only have a few minutes to get the shots they need so that doesn't give me the time to tear down my set and build a whole new one just for one look. Anytime I find myself in a situation like that I try to use my 3-in-1 headshot method which allows me to shoot three very different looks with just two lights and one grey background. Check out this video where I go through my process step by step.
I’m not going to go through all of the gear I used for this setup, because I really want you to understand the concept. This method can be achieved with speed lights just as as easily as I did it with studio strobes. The gear really doesn't matter.
For the first shot, I wanted a white background so I took my strobe and placed it about two feet from the background and blasted it at full power to turn it completely white. It’s important to remember not to have your model stand too close to the background or else your image will have a really hazy effect which doesn't look very good. I had my model stand about five feet from the background but you can really put your model anywhere you want based on your desired look. I had my key light positioned camera right angled down at about 45º in this case but again, you can place your light wherever you think will work best for your situation.
The second shot I needed was a black background. In order to achieve this all I needed to do was turn off the background light and add a grid to my key light in order to prevent any spill of light onto the background. I also increased the power of the key light slightly to adjust for the grid eating up some light.
The third and final look I wanted was a grey background. This required the most light adjustment but it was still very minimal. I had my model take a couple steps backward to where she was about two feet from the background. I then brought my key light in to where it was the same distance from her as the previous shots. The only other adjustment I had to make from there was to bring the light just a little bit in front of my model to allow for some of the light to spill onto the background allowing for it to turn grey. I also increased the power of my light again since I no longer had the grid cutting back light.
I encourage you to try this out and let me know what you think. This setup obviously won't work in every situation or get you out of every jam you find yourself in, but it’s really great to have in your back pocket if you need it. Also don't mind my dog at the beginning of the video, she wanted to be in the video and she gets what she wants.