Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Shooting Beauty

Cassidy Burke
Recently I had the awesome opportunity to do a beauty shoot with my make-up artist friend Adrienne Pitkin and her hairstylist friend Liz Nevin. Liz brought Cassidy Burke along to model for us and Adrienne brought Stacey Storey, former Miss Alaska to model as well. Our goal was to produce a set of beauty shots that we could all use in our personal portfolios. (The final images for both Cassidy and Stacy are available on my SmugMug site here and here.) I learned a couple of things during that shoot that I thought I'd pass on.

First, standard lighting for a beauty shoot involves putting the main (or "key") light directly above the model and another light, or reflector, below to fill the shadows below the model's chin. I choose to use my Alien Bee 800 in a beauty dish as my main light and a reflector as my below-the-model fill light. I found that using a ring light (a light that wraps around the camera lens) for additional fill was also very helpful. The combination of all three lights produced very flattering light on the models' faces. On some of the images I also used rim lights (lights behind the model on each side) to separate the model from the background. I have mixed feelings about the rim lights in some of the images. Next time I'm planning to try using a simple hair light instead.

Stacey Story
Second, I realized half way through the shoot that I needed to work with the two models in very different ways. Cassidy is an experience beauty model. Working with her was largely about getting out of her way and letting her do her thing. All I had to do was throw out a few suggested expressions every now and then and she did everything else. Stacey, on the other hand, is more of a actress. Working with her was more about drawing out her personality than it was about getting classic beauty portraits (although we did that as well). Once I realized I was working with two significantly different models, I started producing much better images. I experimented with Stacey's lighting a bit more as well. For example, I let the rim lights peek out from behind her in some of the images giving those images more of a "hollywood" feel.

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