Sparkling Beauty Lighting PART TWO


This is the second of a two-part beauty lesson. To see the first part, click here.

More Drama

After finishing with the first model, I decided to take my approach a step further by making the whole look more dramatic. With this second model, I wanted the styling to be more edgy and less romantic. So I changed the quality of the lighting to match this change in creative direction.

For the key light, I replaced the OctoDome with the TritonFlash metal reflector to give more contrast to the light and add deeper shadows. When you work with a silver reflector as the main light shaper for your key light, you need to pay extra attention to where your shadows are falling on the model’s face. A deeper shadow calls more attention to itself, so you need to make sure you are happy with exactly where the shadows are falling.

For the backlight on the backdrop, I added a blue gel to turn the silver background into a blue one. You can use any color you wish and I recommend experimenting with mixing colors to get just the right color you want. Since I was going for a winter party look, I chose a cool blue gel.

Adding a Hair Light
I also added a hair light above and behind the model to further separate her from the background, as well as to minimize any color reflection from the background falling on the model’s shoulders. If your backdrop is too close to your model, you may see the color you are using on the background tinting the model’s skin. On this hair light, I attached a small LiteDome to make sure the light was soft and not too intense.

Just for Fun
Whenever time allows, I like to throw in a fun shot just to see how it comes out. This time around, I had a feeling a bright red would be a nice compliment to the blue necklace and silver dress the model was wearing. So the makeup artist quickly gave the model a nice red lip color and I changed the gel on the backlight to red.

Sometimes you just never know what you’ll end up liking best. It’s always good to experiment!

Additional Equipment Used

  • Pocket Wizard Plus II and Plus III wireless transceivers
  • Drop It Modern “Mermaid” backdrop

Written and photographed by Laura Tillinghast.

Lessons with Video,

Indoor Portraits,


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