Corporate Photography is one of our main specialties at Sparksight, and we often find ourselves onsite at our clients’ offices to do a couple of headshots of their new team members. In these cases, often the most difficult and time-consuming stage is the transportation of all of our gear. With this challenge, in mind, we often try to minimize our gear while still offering the best possible production quality to our clients. We’ve found that the Clamshell lighting setup helps us to do this by minimizing lighting requirements while still producing beautiful results.
“Clamshell” is a type of lighting setup achieved with softboxes and/or umbrellas that will consistently deliver great results. It utilizes only 2 lights. One functions as your key, placed above your subject, and the fill light beneath. This setup is useful for softening facial wrinkles and lines. This is achieved by keeping the key light hotter than your fill.
I wanted to stage a staff photo shoot utilizing several new airbrushing techniques along with this Clamshell lighting setup. Artistically I challenged myself to shoot individual portraits of each Sparksight staff member while infusing an element of “vice” into each photograph. Some portraits are subtler than others.
The overall look was achieved by keeping the fill light at least 1 to 2 stops beneath the key. Directing the talent was also important. All of our staff are fun loving people, and exposing each of their brooding alter egos was certainly challenging. I had to encourage them to unleash their inner Al Capone-type seriousness. After a considerable amount of outtakes and goofy attempts, we were able to secure the perfect look.
I shot on a dark, grey backdrop and requested each subject to dress in formal attire, in the style of the 1930s, prohibition era.
The post production involved a considerable amount of airbrushing, color correction, dodging, burning, and sharpening. It was important to keep the look consistent across each portrait. The results were fantastic.
As you can see, Clamshell lighting is a very simple, yet effective way to get gorgeous results. It doesn’t require an extensive amount of equipment nor does it demand keeping track of multiple lighting ratios. This makes it a great lighting setup for photography amateurs and pros alike!