Six Setups for Beauty Lighting

Posted by Peter Buijs on

We have explored setting up simple shoots using low-cost or basic equipment, perfect even for amateur photographers. For this article, we will look at how photographer Rossella Vanon created six different looks but still kept a consistent vibe and mood for all six images.

If you flick through magazines or scroll through highend beauty photo collection, you will notice that the best looking series of photos are those that have a consistent theme. Some photographers who are just starting in the industry have seen the aesthetic advantages of following a motif: it gels the photos together and shows other people your signature mood or style, regardless if the storyline it follows changes from one magazine or gallery after another. In fact, even so-called “Instagram photographers” follow a vibe when they publish photos on their grid (e.g. all bordered, all landscapes, all black and white, etc.).

For this reason, to achieve six different beauty looks, Rossella Vanon created six different lighting setups. But to remain consistent with her chosen theme, which was a pastel beauty make up story, she referred to her mood board. The mood board consists of makeup and mood references, and notes for how she can manipulate light to enhance the model’s features.

H/T: This article is based on the video from Profoto featuring photographer Rossella Vanon

The Six Different Lighting Setups

  1. Using the polyboard as a white reflector and an RFi 5′ Octa Box positioned at 45 degrees, Rossella was able to diffuse the lighting, bouncing some ot back toward the shadow side of the model’s body.
  2. Still using the Octabox and the polyboard, she added an RFi Softbox 1×3 at the back, on the left hand side of the model. Doing this highlighted the model’s hair or cheek.
  3. A complete setup change for the third look. Except for the polyboard, the main light source is now an RFi Softbox 3×3, positioned at 30 degrees at the model’s right hand side. And an RFi Softbox 2×3 directly at the opposite side. This creates a softer, airy lighting while keeping true to the quality of the first two shoots.
  4. Keeping the 3X3 and 2×3 Softbox lighting in the same position, Rossella added a 1×3 strip softbox with the grid pointing towards the model’s back, just at her right hand side. This highlighted the model’s features along the side of the body, but also added a more delicate and dainty feel.
  5. The fifth look was where the biggest setup as created. From the Softbox, Rossella used a white beauty dish as the main light source. Just to soften the effect from the source, she used a clamshell setup: the beauty dish is on the top and a 2×3 Softbox fill light at the bottom, both of which is pointing towards the model’s face. She also added the 3×3 Softbox behind the model to maintain the background tone of the first shoots.
  6. For the last look, she kept the clamshell setup, but added a small RFi Softbox 1,3×2 that is placed behind the model, at her right hand side.

Creating a concept

Rossella Vanon committed to the pastel beauty theme by keeping the styling soft and feminine and the lighting soft and airy. She made sure to collaborate with her makeup artist, Christabel Draffin, to create six different looks that will feature pastel tones.

Before you think about the equipment or the general mood of the shoot, even the subject that you will use, a motif has to be established first. To help you maintain the consistency, do what Rosella did and created a mood board where she lists down anything related to her theme, post colours to use, the lighting, and so on.

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