Color Graded Headshots

I was inspired by an article written by photographer John Gress. It was the lighting which first caught my attention, but I also noticed he color graded his sample images.

I tried both when Kindera needed updated headshots (always a good idea).

The lighting was similar to a look pioneered by Dan Winters, for example in his famous portrait of Tom Hanks. Mine differed in several respects, however: I used a larger parabolic with a diffuser rather than the Indirect Litemotiv Gress used for fill, an un-socked beauty dish (the Elinchrom Minisoft) as key (so it is more specular – a beauty dish – as opposed to a round soft box which is what a socked beauty dish becomes) and a background light for further subject/background separation. I also added a reflector camera right to open the shadows on the shadow side of her face.

My lighting was slightly less contrasty than his as the headshots would be used for business cards as well as social media. I wanted a more open, yet somewhat dramatic in a classic sense, lighting on Kindera.

My color grading was designed to highlight her top(s). Color cues came from them in either a complimentary color or one from the same color family for the shadows, with highlights brought to a warm tone.

In the end, the goal was the same: produce a flattering image that describes visually who she is. Kindera is a “smiler,” so that needed to come across. We feel the first image conveys best her personality, yet liked the others as well.




She brought a variety of tops which added to the variety of images we were able to achieve.

As always, technical descriptions of lighting are available on Flickr.

This entry was posted in Headshots.