I’ve decided that the white background is my favorite for business head shots. This is mainly because they are so easy to produce consistently, but also because a pure white background is so versatile.
To create these, I use a simple two-light setup. First I place a 7-foot umbrella with diffuser behind the subject and, paying close attention to the camera histogram, set the flash so that the light from the umbrella is just slightly blown out. I place a smaller umbrella up and to the right of the subject – as close as possible. (I place it so close that it’s often visible in the shots, but that’s OK, it’s easy to remove it.) I find a willing assistant to hold a white or silver 5-in-1 reflector down and to the left. (A bit lower for the girls.) I shoot handheld, and very fast. Being so close to the subject, the flash units are on very low settings, so they recycle in a fraction of a second. I also use a smaller aperture (f8-f10) on the amazing 56mm Fuji lens. I do not want a shallow depth-of-focus in these shots. I want a clean, easy-to-mask image. If it’s even slightly soft at the back, this is much harder to do.
Post-processing is minimal. Often a simple tweak on the highlight setting in Lightroom turns the background to pure white. After a little cropping I can export an image with a pure white or even transparent background. Perfect!