Do you want to know how simple this set up can be? Take a look.
a) It was a grey snowy day so I knew we needed to be rather close to the light source, which in this case was my large dining room windows.
b) A simple background was going to be preferable to let the Face and Expressions be the star. I was decorating for the holidays at the time so the room was a bit cluttered--I propped a framed Doctor Who poster (backwards) up on the piano bench and leaned it against the piano, it was something we had set in the hallway waiting for Freecycle. I often have a large piece of white and black foam core handy for food styling shoots, but one of my kids had recently cut out a chunk of the black one for a school project so I improvised.
c) Since this was an exercise in metering, focusing AND engaging with a human I wanted the model AND the photographer to be stationary. The subject got a wooden kitchen stool to sit on, photographers used a dining room chair.
d) 15 Minutes of Fame, the fun part. We put music on, adjusted our exposure settings and focus and then-staying put-asked our subject questions, got him engaged in conversation, asked him to demonstrate different emotions until after a minute he was free to give us the best of his personality and expressions on his own. Wham bam, done. A few seconds in photoshop with a VSCO b/w preset and my own collage template and I suddenly had a christmas present sorted out and sent to the printers.
The behind-the-scenes simple set up: