Tutorial: Mixing Strobes and Natural Light for Outdoor Headshots

Heads can be a stuffy business: always hanging out in a studio, playing with the same exact lighting setup, just going through the motions. One great way to have your headshots stand out is by getting out of the studio altogether and taking your sessions outdoors!

In his latest OnSet episode for Adorama TV, Daniel Norton takes us on an adventure to Central Park in NYC for some beautiful fall headshots. Rather than relying on natural light on its own, Norton introduced a little bit of flash with the help of a Profoto B2, a softbox, and a small bounce reflector. It looks like quite the run and gun setup – if you have an assistant or two.

In terms of the reason to introduce the lighting, it allows you to equalize your exposure so that your background elements are not blown out. If Norton had not used the B2 in this situation and tried to expose so the background was not blown out, then his model would have been severely underexposed. The use of the B2 strobe allowed for a more even, pleasing look to the image.

This sort of work, mixing natural light outdoors with strobes, is easy to do, but also easy to over-do. A good rule of thumb is to always expose the shot so the strobe is accentuating the natural light: adding to the shot, not overpowering it. So get outside and give those headshots a try!

Anthony Thurston

Anthony is a Portland, Oregon based Boudoir Photographer specializing in a dark, moody style that promotes female body positivity, empowerment, and sexuality. Besides The Phoblographer, he also reviews gear and produces his own educational content on his website.