ON LOCATION HEADSHOT SETUP

WITH JON MEADOWS 

My location kit and why I use it

I want to be able to create stunning headshots in the studio and on location, headshots that are consistent across the board. This mobile studio setup allows me to maintain quality and travel without too much hassle. My name is Jon Meadows, and I’m a portrait and headshot photographer and a facial expression coach in Washington, D.C. 

 

Lighting

I use up to five of the Flashpoint XPLOR 600 strobes (Godox AD600 strobes). When my client wants a white background, I use two or three lights for lighting the faces of the subject, and two strobes for the background. When they want a grey background, I have two spare strobes/batteries there. These lights have decent modeling lights and get the job done. Going cordless was important to me, especially on location. Everything looks neat and tidy, and no one’s going to trip on the cords and sue me.

For my modifiers, I use two Dynalite 1×3 softboxes and one Dynalite 1×2 softbox.

Flashpoint XPLOR 600 HSS Battery-Powered Monolight on Amazon

Dynalite 1×3 softboxes on the Dynalite Website 

Dynalite 1×2 softboxes on the Dynalite Website 

 

Travel Cases & Bags

My camera bag is currently the Evecase Large DSLR Camera / Laptop Travel Backpack Bag. It is a year or two old and is beginning to fall apart at the shoulder strap. I’ll be getting a ThinkTank backpack in the near future to replace it. 

I carry my laptop in a Timbuk 2 messenger bag that has held up well over the last several years but it appears not to be widely available for purchasing anymore.
Another case worth mentioning is the cases the XPLOR 600s come in. I use two of these cases because each case can hold up to three strobes. I can also stick a couple of reflectors for the background strobes in the case that only has two strobes. These cases make a good first layer on my cart when doing an on-location headshots gig.

Timbuk2 Flight Classic Messenger Bag at Moosejaw

Evecase Large DSLR Camera Laptop Backpack (Discontinued)

Backdrop

I am still using the first backdrop I ever purchased. Three years ago, I went with Westcott’s X-Drop with their white background. I have not been too rough with it, and it has held up perfectly well, apart from the strap on the case coming off. I rarely swing the back leg out, preferring to keep the back leg going along the center rod, just extended the leg enough to get the right angle. This saves space on my backdrop’s footprint.

Westcott 5 x 7 X-Drop Kit with White Backdrop on Amazon

 

Stands

I’m a big fan of the Manfrotto 1004BAC/1005BACs stands. I have used both and love them!

I own four 1005BACs. They interlock, which helps with traveling and staying on the cart. I use them for the two key lights on the subjects’ faces. They are sturdy and have a wide footprint to keep the XPLOR 600s and even large modifiers very stable.

I am equally as big of a fan of the Manfrotto 1051 BACs. I use these for the background lights, which only have a reflector dish on them. I also bring one along with a Ruittos Phone Holder, to record BTS with my phone.
These stands are so good and durable that I have bought most if not all of them used from Amazon.

Manfrotto 1005BAC Ranker Stand on Amazon

Manfrotto 1004BAC Master Stand on Amazon

Ruittos Phone Holder on Amazon 

 

Tripod

I use the Feisol CT-3372LV Mark 2 with Leveling Center Column. It is fairly light for its heftiness and sturdiness. The legs and column fit well with my larger hands, and I know it will last me forever. It is quick to adjust and easy to maneuver the camera to be where I want it.

I use the Arca-Swiss p0 Ball Head with Classic Quick Release on top of my tripod. This is new to me, but it works really well. Loosening it so I can move the camera where I want is great, and it feels very natural after a couple of shoots.

Feisol CT-3472LV Mark 2 Rapid with Leveling Center Column on Feisol’s Website

Arca-Swiss Monoball p0 Ballhead with Classic Quick Release on Amazon 

Tethering

I use the 15-foot TetherTools cable designed for my Sony a7III and a7RIII, plus the JerkStopper. It’s critical for my work as a facial expression coach to be able to review images with my subjects during the session, even for shorter on-location sessions. And it’s very helpful to have the images on my computer at the end of each quick session, so we can select their favorite image before they step away and get back to work.

15 foot Tether Tools Tether cable on Amazon

Tether Tools Jerk Stopper on Amazon

 

Equipment Cart

I use a Rock and Roller cart for my on-location jobs. While I don’t think it’s the best thing that could be designed for us, it is the best thing I have found, and it gets the job done. It saves me at least four round trips between the car and office, compared to if I didn’t have it. I arrive and leave happier that way!

Rock N Roller R6RT on Amazon

 

This is the gear I use to go on location for headshot photography. It’s not the most compact, lightweight setup possible, but it is something I can wheel in and wheel out, apart from my backpack and laptop bag.

JON MEADOWS

CONTRIBUTOR

Photographer at High-End Headshots

Jon Meadows is a portrait photographer, specializing in headshots with facial expression coaching in Washington, D.C. He is also working on a new brand called High-End Portraits (IG: @highendportraits). He is the author of Making Bank with Photography, which you can find on Amazon, and he is a mentor to headshot photographers looking to grow their photography businesses.

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