Shooting Headshots with LED Lighting

by | Mar 30, 2018

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

Every time I tell a photographer that I’m shooting portraits using LED lighting they usually say, “I hear there’s all kinds of color balance problems.” I hate to be the one to break it to you but there are color variations in every kind of light source—even daylight. At noon the light from the sun measures 5500 degrees K but on an overcast day the color temperature rises to 6700 degrees K. In open shade, you can encounter 9000 degrees Kelvin.

No light source is perfect and not all LEDs are identical. They have the advantage of being continuous lighting and “what you see is what you get” but that’s not without some downsides. Some LEDs have narrow angles of coverage and problems, such as Pulse Width Modulation, can cause flickering giving the appearance of a continuous light when it’s not. Then there is the question of what is the actual spectrum of light being produced. Top it all with the fact that some LED lighting systems I’ve tested are not all that bright. Nevertheless, lights like these Limelight Mosaics, have both clean color and bright output


How I made this shot: My set-up shown above is a loosely constructed version of a headshot booth, where a Bicolor Mosaic LED light panel is placed at camera right and a Mosaic Daylight is at camera left. A 22-inch reflector was placed on a Savage Tech Table to kick light under the subject’s chin.

This lighting setup is perfect to create a cover girl look and the Mosaics allow you see Pam Simpson’s lovely aqua eyes better than most electronic flash setups.

The background is a 5×7-foot Savage Infinity photo grey vinyl hung on my falling-apart JTL background stands but because of the way the lights were aimed and the LED’s 40-degree coverage, the middle gray background photographed almost black.

To make this headshot  I used a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 85mm f/1.8 lens along with an exposure of 1/320 sec at f.4.5 and ISO 640




If you’re interested in learning how I shoot portraits and use cameras, lenses and lighting in my in-home studio and on location, please pick up a copy of Studio Lighting Anywhere that’s available new from for $34 or starting at $6.94 used, as I write this. Kindle version is $19.99, for those preferring a digital format.