Studio photography can be challenging, you may not know what the light is doing or where it's bleeding out to but luckily we live in the digital age and experimenting is practically free. I've always liked the clean crisp white backgrounds and they can be shot in a number of ways. You can get very complicated set-ups and use multiple lights to light the background but then you run into spacing issues and a lot of the time you are left with light bouncing off the background creating a cloudy look in your photos that is impossible to hide in PS.
Recently I tried to use one huge umbrella with a white cover over it to make the white background, to my surprise it works perfectly. So long as your subject is small enough to fit within the umbrella, and large enough to cover the flash head you can do away with the background and additional lighting it takes to light that background effectively.
The image below is two lights firing, one serving as the background and one light in a silver beauty dish to create a crisp look for this BW portrait. It was a pretty standard looking image of my friend until I told him to brush his hair back the wrong way for one shot.
You can see that the white background is actually white and evenly lit. This is an effective way to light people if your space is limited and the results are going to be a close up headshot. obviously this won't work if you are looking to photograph a three quarters look or a full body but it's a nice compact set up to get the headshots you want without all the extra gear.
Questions? Let me know in an email on the Contact page and I'd be happy to answer any questions.