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Jeena Paradies's picture

Corporate portraits, how to deal with different height?


I had my first corporate photography gig yesterday, it was quite fun because I knew the guys and it was just a group of 3 people. Everything went fine but once I got home and looked at the pictures I found that the Rembrandt triangle was quite different for every one. I didn't think of the fact that because of the different height of the models, I might wanted to adjust the height of the flash behind the umbrella so it would fall on the face from the same angle for everyone.

But fiddling with the light setup during the shoot feels quite wrong also because it might have quite unintended side-effects. How do you guys deal with that?


Via https://jeena.net/photos/460

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Ian Fraser's picture

Hi Jeena,
I think most photographers have a tendency to imbue the client with his/her own shortcomings. Every photo shoot I have done I have had to fight my inner self doubt. The shoots where I didn't relax, talk to the client, and just do what I had to do to get the shot, those are the ones that have the most errors. When I just talk to my clients, told them what I was doing, and took charge, those shots always came out and, most importantly, the clients were happy.

I can have such a hard time getting out of my own head and just taking charge to get the job done. But after everything, you are the Professional. You are the one being paid to do a job and, the clients know it. Just smile, laugh, and tell them what you are doing. At the end of the day, its the shot that counts.

Richard Sumilang's picture

First of all, congrats on your first corporate portrait gig! What was the height difference of each person? If its not significant then I wouldn't have changed your light setup. But if it is, then there is nothing wrong with adjusting the heights of your lights imo . Although its hard to do with people with different faces. Without adjusting your light, your only option is to reposition the models until it falls where you want it. Shooting continuous lights helps a lot with that. I think its funny how us as photographers go to great depths about these small technicalities in our photos that probably don't matter much IMO because when I take a step back and look at your work it looks pretty fantastic. I would be happy with the product.

Jeena Paradies's picture

Thanks! The height difference was quite significant I'd guess about 35cm. Even the guys themselves commented on it so we adjusted the lights for the guy who was the one in between (the last picture) and I have to say that his pictures turned out to be the best with regards to the lights.

Now that I know of it, I'll try to handle it somehow, either with a small footstool for them to stand on or adjusting the lights.

Continuous lights would help too, but are fairly expensive and bulky to take with me. Right now I just have my camera bag + one big training bag with all my gear in which I even can take with me on the bus (it's not easy to find parking during the day in central Gothenburg).

Richard Sumilang's picture

I'm in the same boat as you right now. Actually I just found continuous LED light matts that roll up and are far much easier to travel with than my monolights and strobes plus softboxes lol. Its like a budget peter hurley westcott system. Check them out, I just ordered a set yesterday and so far they seem promising https://amzn.to/2RZQlJp

Jared Wolfe's picture

Always adjust lights with each person who comes in. Some folks are taller, some are shorter. Some have bigger noses or larger brows and you will need to adjust lights a little each time. Don't be afraid to. You are the professional photographer.

Your images look solid to me. A bit on the dark side for my taste but at the end of the day if the client is happy that is all that matters.

Jeena Paradies's picture

Hm your comment made me curious, how would the lights relate to the size of the noses or brows?

Jared Wolfe's picture

Look at your first headshot vs your last headshot. The nose in the last shot is casting more shadow into their eyes. He has a larger bridge to his nose so the lighting needs to be moved to account for that. Same thing can happen with people with a larger brow. On someone with a small brow a higher up light will not be a problem. But someone with a large brow will have shadow cast over their eyes. So lighting position and angle will need to be adjusted for each persons own height, and face shape. The other option is to have your subject adjust their head angle - angling the nose more towards the light will reduce the shadow from it.

Jeena Paradies's picture

Ah, interesting, now I get what you meant, thanks for the explanation!

Samuel Coleman's picture

Congrats on your first corporate shoot. When you are shooting a number of different people, it is always helpful to decide the type of lighting scheme you want to use ahead of time. Your 1st shot was rembrant lighting, the 2nd one looks like flat lighting and the 3rd shot looks like loop lighting. The images look good, but if you decide ahead of time your lighting scheme you will get more consistent results. Further you might want to create a checklist that you refer to each time you get a new person in front of your camera. This will help you to make any needed adjustments to lights, reflectors etc thus giving you a more consistent result. I hope this helps and good luck to you.

Jeena Paradies's picture

Yeah, they were all standing in the same position, the only difference was their own height which I didn't think of that it would have such an impact but it did.

Yeah a checklist sounds like a good idea.

Mr Hogwallop's picture

Have them sit on a stool. The height difference won't be as much.

Ronald Witherspoon's picture

did you use a fill light? looks like one light only

Jeena Paradies's picture

In the first picture it's a bit more obvious, I used a rim light behind them on the right.

Ronald Witherspoon's picture

also you switched poses. look at the shoulders they are different in the photos. using the angle is good but if you want consistency use a consistent pose. I wouldnt worry about Rembrandt shadows at your beginning stage, just aim for a balance between shadow and light , and use minimal equipment until you grow.

Jeena Paradies's picture

Yeah, I didn't think that this would have such an impact, I didn't tell them how to stand, they just naturally did it in different ways. I should make that more consistent.

geoff liebrandt's picture

Hi Jeena, I also shoot business and professional portraits for a major medical/hospital network in the midwestern United States. As a previous person commented, try having your subjects sit on a stool if one is available. The height differences between the people you're shooting doesn't seem so pronounced when they sit. The adjustments you might need to make with lighting or camera height are in my mind minimized when your subjects sit. I can get pretty consistent lighting and results this way, even when I'm shooting a dozen or more staff one after the other.

And directing your subjects is also important. As you evaluate the lighting and review your shots don't be shy about asking them to shift their position or pose, tilt their head or chin, whatever you see that might improve the final image. Even if you are going for consistent poses across a group of people sometimes small shifts or changes for a particular subject can make a big difference.

Stephen Guidry's picture

Hey Jeena! I wanna start by saying these really are great shots and most clients would be stoked to have a final product like these. It seems that most people have covered this well but i wanted to chime in and say, I ALWAYS adjust my lights for each person that steps in front of my camera. I find that when i take the time to shape the light for each persons unique appearance (even if it takes a couples tries ). the end results are well worth any extra time spent moving lights around.