photography inspiration

Studio Setup: Dramatic Figure Lighting

I’m a big fan of beauty lighting--it’s easy to set up, it makes the highlights pop to the heavens. That being said, I did want to experiment with a few different lighting techniques during my shoot with the wonderful Nick from Mazza models.

Out of the many different lighting setups I chose my favorite to share with you all today!

Inspiration

Before I dive into the lighting setup, I’d like to touch on how I decided on this lighting.

One day when I was browsing through Instagram, I came across this photo on Austin model Mark Rector’s page (@markrec_):

Click on the image to see the original post!   Photo: Carlos Medel (@carlosmdlfoto and @chilebravoproductora) | Grooming: Jorge Buccio (@bucciojb) | Model: Mark Rector (@markrec_)

Click on the image to see the original post!

Photo: Carlos Medel (@carlosmdlfoto and @chilebravoproductora) | Grooming: Jorge Buccio (@bucciojb) | Model: Mark Rector (@markrec_)

I loved this image because of the subtle ethereal glow from the light that was surrounding Mark. I also loved the dramatic lighting that highlighted the hair and enhanced Mark’s features.

Because I loved the lighting in this image so much, I decided to give my personal twist on it. Since I loved how the light was wrapping around Mark’s figure, I wanted to intensify that in my personal lighting setup.

On top of this, I thought this might be a good lighting for fitness photography. I imagine the lighting to highlight all the muscles on the model’s body, so instead of a turtle neck, I thought it might be cool for the model to have a minimal wardrobe (if any).

I do want to note that I think the photo that sparked my original inspiration was a campaign shoot for American Crew (@americancrew), a male grooming product company. I believe that this is why they chose to go with a turtleneck to avoid distractions within the image.

Click the image to go to the website I used to create this diagram!

Click the image to go to the website I used to create this diagram!

Lighting Diagram

I placed a medium sized softbox right behind the model to give that ethereal glow. Quite frankly I would have went with a bigger softbox if I could, but I did not have that option. (Because of this I had to stick to a fairly tight frame, limiting me to upper body shots at most.)

If you don’t have a softbox to place right behind the model, I think putting a white/sheer shower curtain behind the model, and then use a big light source (big octobox, softbox, etc) to light the back of the subject would work perfectly as well.

I then placed a 22’ beauty dish with a white diffuser on top at a 45 degree angle to the subject to create a dramatic Rembrandt lighting.

I also want to note that every one of these images are taken from a low angle (even though some of them look as if the camera was at eye level).

Settings

Camera: Sony A7R iii

Lens: Sony 18-105mm F4 G OSS

Aperture: 7.1

Shutter speed: 160

ISO: 100

Final Words

I loved this shoot so much! Thank you Nick for doing such an amazing job with your hair; thank you Mazza Models for setting up this shoot!

I hope you get a chance to test out this lighting.

Be sure to follow Nick and Mazza Models:

https://www.instagram.com/nick_mcc_/

https://www.instagram.com/mazzamodels/

How I Find Inspiration for Beauty Shoots

I recently did a collaboration with a few creatives on this beauty shoot that I absolutely LOVE! As this is my first blog post, I’d like to divulge my tips for finding inspiration for beauty shoots.

Photographer/MUA: Jay Brans   | Hair: Sarah Lund | Model: Elisha Floyd | Jewelry: Nina Berenato

Photographer/MUA: Jay Brans | Hair: Sarah Lund | Model: Elisha Floyd | Jewelry: Nina Berenato

We live in a time when content is easily accessible via Instagram, Pinterest, Behance, or other social platforms. However, as we are bombarded with so many ideas, it is often hard to stick to a particular concept and commit to a theme.

I am quite guilty of this myself. I find it hard to plan out a shoot that I am 100% committed to the idea. Sure, I can look at a model and immediately think, “she would look incredible with blue eyeliner!” However, within a day or two I find myself looking at a beautiful photo on Instagram and I start to question my initial thoughts.

I do find it easier when I start thinking about the characteristics of the model and pinpoint what exact feature I’d like to showcase.

In this case, the model, Elisha, had a killer jawline and these green eyes that I haven’t seen before. Because of this, I decided on a look that would (1) bring out her gorgeous eye color (2) show off her jawline.

After deciding on that, I pulled up the page of one of my biggest makeup inspirations Anastasia Voevodina.

Screenshot of Anistasia Voevodina’s Instagram; click image to open her page

Screenshot of Anistasia Voevodina’s Instagram; click image to open her page

This particular photo caught my eye (pictured below). I started thinking about how the colors would affect Elisha’s eyes. The dark colors on the top would bring out the brightness in her eyes, and the green would act as a perfect compliment to her forest eyes. However, looking at Elisha’s profile, I fell in love with her eyeliner that she does herself. I wanted an extra flare that reflected the style that I loved in her makeup, but also something different that would make her eyes pop even if the eyeshadow was dark. Boom! That’s when I decided to add on the gold eyeliner.

Main Inspiration for the eyeshadow look; click image to see original post

Main Inspiration for the eyeshadow look; click image to see original post

In terms of hair, I am lucky enough to have a style master for Kevin Murphy, Sarah Lund, to constantly bring inspiration to the shoot, but also execute my thoughts better than I could ever imagine.

Sarah is also the one that reached out to a local jewelry designer in Austin, Nina Berenato, that provided the showstopper jewelry. (If I keep talking about Sarah, this entire post will most likely become a Sarah-appreciation post!)

I told Sarah that I would like the jawline to show, and Sarah first did a lovely braid with pearls to bring some girly flare to the shoot. Afterwards, Sarah pulled back the hair to showcase the incredible ear cuffs by Nina.

First braided look

First braided look

Second ponytail look

Second ponytail look


If you are a photographer, the biggest tip I could give you from my personal experience of finding inspiration is to find a team that continues to inspire you day after day. In this case, Sarah was definitely the biggest help to me. She found a jewelry designer, she came up with creative hairstyles that did exactly what I wanted, and she elevated the entire shoot. I don’t think I could have done better off or even on the same level if it weren’t for Sarah.

Often times, I find myself in a creative brain fart where I can’t find any direction. Sometimes, I don’t even feel like shooting, but my creative team continues to motivate me.

I can say without doubt that they are what keep pushing me to grow shoot after shoot!

If you are a makeup artist, I find it easier to come up with makeup inspiration when I think about the features of the models and what I’d like to bring out. Elisha often did her own makeup (which all looked insanely beautiful), and I wanted to bring that into the shoot, while enhancing the color of her eyes.


I hope this gives you a helpful guide to plan your beauty shoots! Be sure to check out Sarah, Elisha, and Nina.

Sarah: https://www.instagram.com/sarah.lovekm/

Elisha: https://www.instagram.com/elishatx/

Nina: https://www.instagram.com/ninaberenato/