This post is for any of our photographer friends who may be coming to visit us for headshots! One of the signature aspects to the look of our headshots is a sharp subject and a blurry background, or very shallow depth of field. But how do we achieve this style?
The first part of this magic equation is, of course, the camera. We shoot with a full frame D4S. The full frame is important to the depth of field as crop sensor cameras increase DoF by one stop, even when shot with the same technical focal length and f-stop, giving you a less blurry background. (Check out this article if you're interested in shooting on crop sensor cameras).
Next is the lenses! The faster the lens, the shallower the depth of field. Our main headshot lenses are an 85mm f/1.8 and a 70-200mm f/2.8. But what do we mean by "fast" lenses? This refers to how wide the aperture will open. The wider the aperture the more light will be let into the camera and the shallower the depth of field, so the blurrier the background. We typically shoot around f/2.8. Shooting lower than f/2.8 can in fact make the focus too shallow, potentially affecting the sharpness on the subject that we really like.
This full frame/fast lens combination is important for the blurry background look because it ensures outdoor backgrounds remain dynamic and atmospheric but do not distract from a subject. Slower lenses and crop sensor cameras can make background details more distinguishable; we want the color of the bushes in the background, but we don't want a viewer's focus to shift from the subject of the headshot to leaves behind them!
Have more questions about our gear? We would love to hear them! Leave us a comment or tweet us @mjbhomeent !