Step 10: A credible result
This photo was made in a large basement. I had no helpers, so I took numerous exposures to insure I had a good one. (It would have all been easier with a helper.) I used the camera's self-timer and tried to make a natural expression. The camera was about seven feet from me. That meant I used the zoom feature to gain a bit of a telephoto effect. That minimized the distance differential between my ears and the camera and my nose and the camera. My face appears properly proportioned.
I used one light placed a bit higher and slightly to one side for good shadow definition on my face. There are some catchlights in my eyes. I licked my lips shortly before the exposure to make a catchlight on them, too. I set the camera to shoot in black and white because the people who needed a head and shoulders shot of me wanted to print it in black and white.
Contrary to the bad photo in step 1, I made the camera lens the same height as my eyes.
The background was a plastered wall with visible blemishes. It was about a dozen feet behind me. Although it was white, the inverse square law caused it to be no lighter than my skin tones. The background should always be a bit darker than the subject's skin tones.
If I wanted to improve on this photo, I could have used a hair light. That would have been a relatively low wattage light bulb, say 60 watts, hung about four feet above my head. It would have been about one foot back from my nose and just to my left a few inches from the center of my head. It would probably have a dark paper cone around it pointing downward to keep stray light from going in all directions. It would have produced a pleasing highlight on crests in my hair and a little glint on parts of my left ear.
If I wanted to further improve the photo, I could also have used a background light. In that case, I would have wanted the background to be a bit darker than it was. A background light would be placed behind me and near to the wall. It would shine on the wall at a slight upward angle and would have given me a bit of a halo effect around my head. But, background lights can be tricky in my experience.
In the bad photo shown in step 1 there were shadows from my head showing on the background. The distance between myself and the background in this photo allows all shadows to fall harmlessly onto the floor and out of sight.
In the end, I have a usable photo of myself better than many I have seen in newspapers and elsewhere.