A successful fashion image is a combination of striking model, stunning styling, and (of course) great lighting! I am excited to share that I have a new tutorial out to help share my favorite fashion and beauty lighting setups. In this Kelby Training class I share how I utilize 1, 2 or 3 lights to create my desired effects. All the images in this post were taking during this Kelby Training class called "Fashion Lighting 1, 2, 3". You can see the modifiers, the angles of the light and watch me as I shoot!
I love my job-- I love making beautiful images and sharing the process with all of you. Could a better job possibly exist? For me? I think not. 😀 Also, please if you can think of any other Kelby Trainings or classes you'd like to see from me, leave it in a comment! I'd love to hear what you'd like to see!
I thought I'd take a moment to share some of my 'takeaway points' from the video. These are some approaches and steps I take to lighting a successful fashion image.
1. First I ask myself what are my goals of the image, and which light modifiers/angles will help me achieve these goals. If I want a dramatic image I may select a harsher light modifier like a long-throw silver reflector, a beauty dish with a grid, or other option. If I want something a bit more 'beauty light' I may use a beauty dish with reflector, softbox or other solution. There is no one 'right way' to light your subject, but knowing the goals of the image starts to put you on the right path.
2. After deciding my goals, I figure out my main light modifier. A lot can be achieved with just one light, and many setups in this tutorial are just a single light (some typical modifiers and some specialty like the UV light). The key light of the image helps set the mood and define the light on the face. If I want the light to be dramatic I can raise the light (height) or change the angle (taking it off axis of the camera gives me more shadows and more drama). I continue to set the mood by adding reflectors and fill cards to define the shadows of the image.
3. If I choose to add a second light, this light is usually to help define/separate the subject from the background. This might be a hair light, light on the background, rim light on the face, etc. I don't usually want the subject to just blend in with the background, so a second light is great for achieving this separation. This is particularly true in a beauty image where perhaps I want to draw attention to the hair or accent the model's long neck. My second defining light might be a silver dish, strip light, strip bank or barn doors. There are a variety of solutions. To choose the light for separation it usually depends on how crisp you want the highlight and how much of the body it must illuminate (ex: barn doors are more crisp than strip lights).
4. When I go ahead and add a third light, this is usually to give an even more polished and refined look to an image. This might be a second hair light, or another light on the background, or a rim light on the other side of the body. My most commonly used commercial lighting setup (used for bands, athletes, etc) is a 3-light setup because it gives a more refined look. While there are certainly more complicated lighting setups that could use 4, 5, 6 or dozens of lights, for my work I find that is usually unnecessary. Almost always 3 lights can get the job done!
5. The last step of the equation is knowing that retouching (as a fashion and portrait photographer) is part of the creative and image making process. That is not covered in this class but may be in a follow up class and I have big news about another class coming up soon!
For your next fashion and beauty shoot, keep the above points in mind; determine your goals and the mood, select your main modifier, introduce additional lights to provide separation and refine to your image!
EQUIPMENT: Beauty dish at a VERY high angle, floor dryer for fan in hair, and silver reflector beneath the chest (see catchlights in the eyes).
EQUIPMENT: Two softboxes (even size) from the front of the model. No light on background.
EQUIPMENT: A beauty dish center in front of the subject, two lights on a white background. Large white fill cards on the left and right of the model.
EQUIPMENT: Beauty dish as main light on the right side of the face. Silver reflector dish with blue gel filling in shadows on left side of the face.
EQUIPMENT: 1 Broncolor UV light adaptor.
EQUIPMENT: Broncolor Pico Spot Projector light on face.
EQUIPMENT: Beauty dish and white fill cards on all sides.