Honolulu Headshot Photographer - Matt, J.S. Held

Last week the marketing director at J.S. Held hired me to shoot a corporate headshot for one of their team members named Matt.  The shoot went well overall, Matt was super chill and easy to work with.  Working with clients like him really make these types of assignments fun and easy.  We basically shot everything in his home kitchen. I have created a lighting system that is portable and easy to bring and setup in clients houses. For many business workers with limited time and tight schedules, the portable studio system is quite convenient. For this particular shoot, I took my setup to his house in Honolulu and got some great shots that we were both pleased with. 

This shot was taken with a 24-70mm lens at 70mm. I usually shoot my headshots around the 135mm focal length. For this one I wanted a little more depth and dimension to the image so I chose to shoot it at a wider focal length. 

The wall we shot on is white but if you place the light a little further from it and feather the light, you can turn the color grey or black if you have enough distance. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions. Mahalo for stopping by.

Matt Ellison

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Oahu Headshot Photographer - AccesSurf Hawaii - One Ocean Event

AccesSurf Hawaii is a non-profit organization based in Honolulu. Their incredible team provides surf and aquatic opportunities for individuals with physical or cognitive disabilities. The organization held their "Day at the Beach" event. I partnered with AccesSurf on a volunteer basis to provide portraits of the participating athletes.  

I had the opportunity to speak with each athlete before and after photographing them. Being around their joyful spirits and pure hearts was a great blessing and communicating with them was very inspirational and heartwarming.  My experience partnering with AccesSurf was amazing, I hope you enjoy this fun project!


Honolulu Headshot Photographer - Young Life Oahu Staff Portraits

This month I partnered with a non profit organization called Young Life Oahu. Young Life is a group of committed adults that reach out and support our local youth. They provide weekly events at various high schools, take them on camping trips to outer islands, and most importantly share the word of God with them. I reached out to the Area Director Brady Giusta to find out what type of images their organization was in need of. After brainstorming a few ideas we decided to create a cohesive set of headshot images to enhance and update their web presence.

We shot this set of images in Kaneohe at one of the leaders house and had a blast. Their team is awesome and it was a pleasure to work with them. Each individual and face you see in the pictures below are influencing our next generation in a positive and powerful way.  If you are reading this, I encourage you to pray for them and support them. If you would like to make a donation to this organization, please click on this link.

Oahu Headshot Photographer - Tardus Wealth Strategies On Assignment

Last month I was hired to shoot headshots for Chris Souza and Tanisha Souza, owners of Tardus Financial Services.  Tardus Wealth Strategies provides their clients with interesting approaches to generate passive income.  They have lots of different methods from lending to those looking for loans to real estate investing.  I am actually considering joining their program, it's great for entrepreneurs and for people who would like to make money while they sleep.  Chris and Tanisha were super fun and chill to work with. They are so smart when it comes to investing and have such laid back personalities.

Lens: I packed lightly for this assignment. I shot both Chris and Tanisha with my 135mm Canon f/2 lens. This lens is a great choice if you have enough space and good lighting.  If space is tight, I'd recommend shooting on the 100mm Canon Macro or the 85mm Canon lense.  If you are new to shooting headshots, I'd recommend buying a 70-200mm f/2.8 and finding a particular focal length YOU like best. I recommend setting up and shooting a full session at 70mm, 85mm, 100mm, and 135mm. I personally like the 135mm or the 100mm focal lengths best.  They seem to provide a nice perspective on the face. 

Setup:  For the setup, I simply put a whiteboard behind them as the backdrop and had them hold another whiteboard under their chin to fill in any unwanted shadows. I also had them sitting on a chair so I could shoot them at eye level and above eye level.  That's it!




 Chris Souza - Tardus Wealth Strategies

Chris Souza - Tardus Wealth Strategies

 Tanisha Souza - - Tardus Wealth Strategies

Tanisha Souza - - Tardus Wealth Strategies

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Oahu Yoga Photographer - On Assignment

A few months back Nicole reached out to me to do a yoga styled shoot. I was stoked to collab with her because this was a new request for me. 

Idea: We wanted to create a mystical, surreal type of image. To achieve this, I felt like shooting somewhere with a jungle or forest feel would fit. I also used a strobe since they can help create a dramatic feel to your overall image. 

Location: We shot this image at Kapiolani Park in Honolulu, Hawaii. This park is huge with many different spots to shoot at. I choose to setup near the banyan trees because I liked the textures and lines within them.  It was also in the shade which helps with your overall exposure and lighting control.  

Lighting: I used the Alien Bees b800 shot through a 46" Photek Softlighter as my main light. I always use C-stands and sandbags for safety.  Hawaii can get gnarly trade winds and I've had lights fall on my subjects. C-stands are pretty expensive so if you are more budget conscious, at least purchase multiple sandbags for strobe sessions.  I did not use a fill light for this image. Since we shot during the daytime, I was able to add fill by slowing my shutter speed.  I placed the light just out of frame to camera right. It is slightly placed above her head and tilted downward about 45 degrees. 

Lens: I used the Canon 50mm 1.2 L lens for this shot. This lens is awesome but if you don't plan on using it wide open on a regular basis, stick with the Canon 50mm 1.8. I shoot weddings multiple times a week and I am often in situations where I need the additional stop. 

Editing: Nicole actual outfit was a black top with red pants. I didn't like how the two colors looked with the particular background. To fix this I used a hue/saturation adjustment layer in Photoshop and changed her pants from red to green and her top from black to green.  Since the adjustment layer affects the entire image, I masked it out with a brush. 

I basically do a few things to all my images. I desaturate the entire image, add specific colors I want using curves, then add blue in the shadows and yellows in the highlights with a levels layer. I also desaturate the reds in people's faces and skin to mellow the tones in the overall image. 

Thanks to my buddy Joseph Baeza who came out and filmed this BTS video.  Hopefully the video gives you visuals of the overall setup. Feel free to ask any questions in the comment section of this post.

Nicole Zuelke

Oahu Headshot Photographer - Studio Headshot With Beauty Lighting On Assignment

I recently used the beauty lighting setup on a recent headshot assignment here on Honolulu, Oahu.  This type of lighting arrangement is popular for fashion, headshot and beauty photographers.  I partnered with Allison and her team at Reveal Hair and Makeup to shoot a headshot image.  This is usually my go to set up if I am contracted to take staff portraits or headshots. 

Let’s start by listing the gear and tools I used in order to achieve this type of image.

Honolulu Headshot Photographer Mike Vidales
Alien Bees B800
  • Light Stand: I suggest using a boom stand but a regular straight stand will work as well.  I prefer to use the Avenger boom stand. Although it’s pricey, heavy, and bulky, I’d highly recommend this brand and model because it’s very durable and reliable. I have purchased a few cheaper boom stands from Amazon but they have both broken on me within a year.  The money I spent on the cheaper stands was really money lost in the end.    
  • Strobe: I use the Alien Bees b800 and b1600 flashes made by Paul C. Buff for my studio strobes. These are a great option that are also budget friendly. There’s plenty argument in regards to the consistency in color temperature and power output. From personal experience, I have seen a small amount of inconsistency, but it is very minimal.  In fact, I still recommend Alien Bee flashes to anyone thinking about purchasing them. They get the job done and they have been very reliable.
  • Telephoto lens: Since this particular assignment was a headshot, I decided to use the Canon 135mm f2 L lens. This lens is awesome to say the least. I like this particular focal length for headshots because it compresses the image to my liking.
  • Lighting Modifier: The 22" beauty dish is a modifier I frequently use.  From my experience, the beauty dish creates more contrast and has a more edgy look to it than an umbrella. The beauty dish is also smaller in diameter than the umbrella I own which makes it more convenient and easier to work with in smaller spaces.

Let’s transition and discuss the process of how to use these tools. I’ll list them in step process below:

  1. Flash & Modifier:  Place the flash & modifier of choice (beauty dish, softbox, etc.) on the boom stand then place the boom at a 45 degree angle so that the flash and modifier are directly overhead of the subjects face.  I also point the flash and modifier so that it is angled about 45 degrees towards the subject. 
  2. Camera Settings: I usually set my aperture to about f/8-f/11, my ISO  to 160, and my shutter speed to about 1/125.  These settings usually allow me to cut any ambient light that may creep into the frame.  I try to turn off any ambient lighting as well, such as ceiling lights, lamps, etc. I also close the curtains to the room so my lighting environment is more controlled. The only light I have on is the modeling lamp on my strobe which helps my lens autofocus consistently.   

  3. Placement: I place the strobe and modifier roughly 2-3 ft or an arms length away to my subjects face. Then, I’ll place a white reflector board under the subject's face. The reflector bounces light back from the flash and fills in any black shadows under their eyes, nose, and neck. The distance you place the reflector from the models face will create less or more shadows. For men, I do not mind having more shadows so I place the reflector further from the bottom of his face. For women, I like to a more even lit look, so I’ll usually place the reflector board closer to their face.

These are general guidelines I think about when I am setting up for a headshot session. Since everyone has unique facial features and face shapes, I usually alter and tweak my setups to get the result I prefer best.

I hope these tips helps you on your next assignment. I recommend practicing this setup with a friend. Try moving the setup around and experiment.  You can really achieve a number of different looks and results by simply adjusting the strobe position and reflector.  Have fun with it, let me know how your experience goes in the comment section below. 


Reveal Hair and Makeup - Mike Vidales
Reveal Hair and Makeup
Mike Vidales Headshot Photographer Reveal Hair and Makeup Oahu
Mike Vidales Headshot Photographer Honolulu Hawaii Oahu Kaka'ako

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