Simple two light setup for Beauty Shots
This will be a short tutorial on how to light a simple beauty shot using a large softbox as background and a beauty dish as main light. As some of you may know, I’ve had many opportunities to experiment with a wide range of diverse lighting techniques and conditions while studying photography at Dawson College. In an effort to share the wealth of knowledge I’ve decided to share some of my experiences with you. One of my favorite studio shoots was the beauty shot. Because I like things to be simple I decided to go for a very simple two light setup that despite it’s simplicity, the result is quite impressive.
As you can see a beauty shot is a headshot similar to a makeup or hair advertisement, with emphasis on the model’s facial features.
To achieve this result you’ll need:
- 2 lights
- 1 large softbox
- 1 beauty dish attachment
- 1 light stand
- 1 boom
- 1-2 reflector
Ok let’s get started. Your background will be the large softbox.
Place it on a light stand and have it at about a 45° angle pointing up. By having your model stand directly in front of it the light emitted from the softbox will wrap around the face.
Your second light, the beauty dish, will be placed upon a boom high above and pointing at a 45° angle down towards the softbox with the model between the two lights. It will be a classic butterfly light so make sure it’s centered with your model’s face.
I had the two reflectors at chest level in such a way as to wrap around the model so that the reflected light was distributed evenly around the model’s face. The reflectors did a great job softening out the shadows in the neck area.
The meter read 1/160 sec f8 ISO 100 for the beauty dish and I had the softbox set about one and a half stops higher to assure that the background would be completely white.
You want the camera to be just slightly above the models eye level. You can use a stool or short ladder for this. I used a Canon 70-200mm 2.8 telephoto lens for this shot. The telephoto compression makes large facial features seem less obvious and is a great lens to have for portrait photography.
There’s not much more to it. Once the lights are setup you might need to tweak their settings once or twice depending on personal taste. You’ll probably want to experiment with the placement and angle of the reflector(s) as they can greatly contribute to a more balanced lighting pattern.
I hope this short tutorial will have proven useful and that everyone’s photography has improved as a result.