Fashion Portrait Editorial – Lighting tutorial.

I have been waiting a while to post this tutorial but I’ve had to hold off due to the magazine needing exclusivity of the images until after publishing.

Anyway: Here is a little tutorial on how to light a fashion portrait.

This particular shoot was done to show off some headdresses made by fashion label Hysteria Machine, so unlike a lot of fashion shoots we only had to focus on a portrait style picture.
Using lighting to create emphasis on the head pieces but having enough of the model on show to give context to the image was the important balance here.

So to start with we have out white walled studio in tottenham where the MUA and model got started on creating the looks.
I can’t stress enough how important it is for me to work with a great team. Excellent make up artists, stylists and models are what make a great photo. The MUA on this occasion was Annie D (you can find her stuff here) The looks were so different to a normal portrait session that without her expertise it would have taken hours and hours of post production to make anything that even closely resembles these images.

Once the model was styled and ready to go I started setting up the lighting.


Here you can get an idea of the set up.
For the first look we needed to create highlights on the headdress and still have enough fill light to keep an even detail in the face.
To achieve this we have a 22inch beauty dish pointed almost straight down in a daylight position (from the left side of the camera) at the model with a 70cm softbox off to the camera right to provide the fill light.

We wanted to create a dark image but being surrounded by white and with a white backdrop meant we have to be really controlled on the lighting. The beauty dish is gridded and the two black flags either side of the model remove any spill from the softbox hitting the backdrop.

(it is also important to note here that you want to set your camera settings so that no ambient light is affecting the image. The flashes should be the only light creating and removing shadows in your studio. I think we shot at 1/160th @f11 to make sure that we were only capturing the light we wanted)

With a dark background and dark subject matter we used  a third light as a kicker or “rim light” to create a highlight that catches the edge of the model and makes them stand out from the shadow. Again this light is gridded to make it really directional and remove and potential spill onto the back drop.


And this ^ is one of the finished images. The only post process involved is a slight colour correction as the flash tends to flatten some of the colours in the make up but thats it.
Using directional lights and placing them according to the amount of fall off you want (see previous tutorial) is all that’s needed to turn a white room into a dark portrait set.

Hope you guys enjoyed this tutorial and if you have any questions feel free to send them in the comments!
You can currently see this editorial in Gilded Magazine




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