Instant Business Portrait

In this business portrait photography class, Karl demonstrates a lighting setup that is quick and simple, suitable for both studio and location work.

Using just two lights, Karl explains how to get the most from each light and how to balance them for the most pleasing results. Clearly explaining each step of the shoot, Karl explains his lighting setup, power ratio and camera settings to help provide clearer understanding.

To conclude the class, Karl shows you how this setup is also perfect if you were working at an office shooting against a white wall and how you could enhance the setup by adding an additional light.

In this class:

  • Portrait photography: Business portraits
  • How to take business portraits using two studio lights
  • Backgrounds for business portraits
  • Camera settings for business portrait photography
  • How to create soft light for business portraits
  • How to photograph against a white wall
  • How to photograph in a small studio

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.


  1. I have a specific scenario. I am using a speed light to light up one side of the face of the model and another continuous light to fill in the shadows. I am setting my ISO at 100 as I want my Image to be as Noise-Free as possible. I am keeping my Shutter Speed at 1/250 to accommodate the speed light. My Aperture is set to 7.1 to make sure that everything is in Focus.
    In this situation, the scene will be very dark before taking the photo. How do you focus on the subject?

    1. Hi, depending on the camera you are using the camera will not use an aperture of 7.1 until you take the photo so there should be no problem with the focusing, the camera’a autofocus should work just fine. The problem though with your setup though is that you say you have a continuous light and a flash. Your settings are OK for the flash but my experience tells me that they will be to dark for the continuous light unless it is a very bright continuous light. Also if you are using a speed-light as your key light I hope you are diffusing it through some material, or a softbox or bouncing it off a large white panel otherwise it won’t be very flattering as the main light source. I’d recommend you watch through these classes to get a better understanding of controlling light –

  2. Hi Karl if you didn’t have a extra light for the hair and you wanted to light the hair, is it possible to use a mirrored serface? I know a reflector wouldn’t be strong enough but was thinking a mirror or something like that might be?

    1. Hi Edwin, it’s an option and in some of our ‘one light’ classes we show you how to make use of mirrors and other reflectors for such purposes.

  3. nice setup but it is not usual to have a 120x180cm softbox and such big roll.
    i would be interested to see same shooting but with a 65-85cm octabox main light (or westcott apollo deep umbrella 43″) and a 65-85cm rim light. Moreover, cherry on the cake, glasses because everytime i want to take corporate pictures of my collegues, most of them have glasses so i need to raise a lot the softbox making deep shadow and ask someone using a silver reflector on elbow of guy/girl,…
    so, not so easy !

  4. Hello Karl,

    If I want to shoot portraits, I want to buy Andoer Studio Photography Softbox LED Light as a beginner is it enough to get results, or should be a high-power led like your video.

  5. Hi Karl, great stuff. I’m really curious as to where you get a roll of scrim material I’ve never come across it before (I’m in Canada).

  6. Karl. Absolutely love your videos. Would it work to use a 30×120 softbox to fill the shadow side? For people not used to being surrounded by giant lights it might be less intimidating and would be a little easier to transport.

    1. Hi Thanks, yes it should work fine. If it was a little hard then just put a roll of diff or collapsable scrim in front of it. Cheers Karl.


    Hi Karl

    I did my 1st business headshot job yesterday. It went well, both the client and I were extremely pleased with the outcome.
    Your course taught me almost everything I needed to put to work for this simple 1st paid job, from beginning to end, with a lot practice in between.
    I cannot tell you enough how satisfying it was for me to earn that 1st cheque by doing something I love.
    I’m learning so much from these tutorials – I highly recommend this course to anyone who, like me, wants to expand a passion into an additional source of income.
    I will continue to cover all the modules, and then repeat them regularly, with continued practice…. I realise have a long way to go.

    Thank you!

  8. johnleigh

    great stuff I was interested to hear your comment about large pupil size as I am aware some photographers specifically aim for smallest pupils in the subjects eyes in order to show the largest area of colour – do you have any direction on this in your experience of clients expectations?

    1. Hi John, I don’t like the small pupil as it invokes the sense of being in bright outdoor light which will not look natural to the lighting you have created. Also anthropologists and sociologists agree that humans perceive a large pupil as a message of attraction.

      1. I guess that’s where you and “the new york headshot photographer” disagree haha. I do like a larger pupil as well.

        What would you suggest to make it seem like the model is a bit farther away from the backdrop in a small space? Is that even possible? What I don’t like about this one is you can tell she’s right up against the background. In my opinion photos taken right up against a wall tend to look bad. But I guess that’s the trade off in a small space?

        Thanks for the amazing content at an amazing price. I’ve really been enjoying these !

        1. Hi Jordan, the only thing that will define how close a model is to a background is shadow on the background and any visible texture or pattern. So for example if you use a smooth background then your only problem left to solve is not having the model cast a shadow which is more tricky than it sounds in a small space! If the shadow you see on the grey one was removed in post you wouldn’t really be able to tell how far she was from the background. All the best Karl.

  9. Hi Karl,

    How much would you charge for corporate portraits? maybe if its a group of people for each, depending on a number

  10. I love the use of a collapsible back drop. I shall invest in one. I use the X drop system now and this would be even quicker. Just a collapsible and a stand. Great advice for a quick business portrait setup. I’ve done a business portrait shoot even simpler ( one light) in a dentist office lobby. The window was a large store front window with a frosted coating simulating a scrim. I bounced the one light to create the soft box simulation. I only did it though because the conditions were there to accommodate it so having options is a must, as those conditions don’t always exist.

  11. Hi Karl,
    I do like the light from the scrim better than the softbox. Next time would you please make the scrim light be the main instead of fill.

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