Creating a Dress & Using a 3-light Set-up | Tuesdays with Lauri

Lighting Tips January 22nd 2013 9:27 AM 44 Comments

Today we take a behind the scenes look at my latest beauty/fashion/conceptual photoshoot involving a custom-made dress. We’re going to take a quick look at how the dress was made, as well as how we lit the scene and brought it all together:



Last Saturday me, and my friends Karina Boissonier, Sonja Annala and Atte Tanner, got together in a studio in Muurla, Finland, and we set out to create an interesting, almost painterly-like portrait of a beautiful model. A few days before the shoot, I had decided that I wanted to create a custom-made dress for this photoshoot, and that’s exactly what we did. The dress you see on our model, Sonja, was actually designed and created by me. This was my first time doing anything like this, and I was really happy with the way the dress turned out.

In order to create the dress I visited a local fabric-store and bought 15 meters of light-blue gauze fabric, and a bunch of safety pins. The great thing about creating a dress for this sort of a “controlled” indoor studio photoshoot, is the fact that the dress doesn’t have to look perfect from all angles. It’s enough that it looks good from the angles that you’re going to be shooting from, in our case, mostly the front.

You probably wouldn’t go out and about walking in this sort of a dress, but for the purpose of a photograph, it works perfectly. And the great thing is, that you can reuse the fabric multiple times for different purposes, maybe another dress or an amazing headpiece, and this way save some money as well.


Once the dress was done, it was time to make our concept happen. It’s always a good idea to integrate a story into a photograph – that way it makes the viewing-experience much more interesting and gives the viewer a chance to come up with their own interpretations of what’s happening in the photograph:



The story I wanted to convey was that the woman in this photograph received these roses from someone in her long forgotten past, and now in this photograph she’s reflecting on those old forgotten memories. Who is this person who gave her the roses and why is she looking away from the camera, are the questions that I wanted to leave open for the viewers to answer by themselves.

I chose to use lightblue as one of the maincolors, because it is strongly associated with the feeling of calmness and tranquillity. In the other hand the red background and the roses can be associated with passion, desire and love, which is something I wanted to convey as well, as it adds a whole new dynamic into the photograph.


The last thing that we had to determine, was how we would place our lights. For this photograph I went with a three light set-up. As you can see from the video, we had a large octobox on cameraleft. This light acted as our mainlight, illuminating our model and the vintage couch. To create some separation from the background I added another light, with a softbox behind our model. To create a natural vignetting on the red backdrop I had another light, with a snoot on it, pointing at the backdrop, right behind our models back.

Final images

As always, if you have any questions, or requests for future episodes, just leave a comment below, and I’ll do my best to help you all out! :)



Lauri Laukkanen is one of the youngest established advertising photographers in Finland. At the ripe age of 21 he has already been working with some of the biggest commercial clients and his photos have been featured in the media, all around the world. Check out his portfolio here.


  1. Gary Brant

    Nice set up and final images but no mention of the post processing you used to give the images their  ‘paint-like’ quality. 
    Would be interesting to hear.

    • Steven Leung

      agreed, love the bts videos Lauri!  a little more insight on the sooc image and then your thought process and how to on the post processing would be much appreciated.

    • laurilaukkanen

      Hi Gary and Steven! First of all, thank you for the kind words! :D
      Secondly, yep, I have been receiving quite a few requests about this now, so I decided that I will create a one or two-part video about the post processing by the end of this week. :D

      – Lauri

    • Steven Leung

      not a comment on the post, but the site itself.  after coming back to this page to read the comments, it took me 5 ‘load more comments’ clicks to show these?  is this a site comments feature?  would be much easier to ‘show all comments’ or something with a click :)

    • laurilaukkanen

      Hey Steven! Thanks for the comment. We have now changed the settings, so that you can easily see all comments at once with those annoying extra-clicks. :)

      – Lauri

    • Steve Diamond Elements

      Excellent concept, way to venture out and expand your own skillset with the dress.

    • laurilaukkanen

      Thanks Steve! :D

      – Lauri

    • William Phillips

       Nice video, but why the Shotgun?

    • laurilaukkanen

      Haha! I knew someone would notice the gun… :D They had a pretty cool prop-room in the studio, and I brought out the toy-shotgun and gave it to our model and let her fool around with it for a while… :D It’s always a good idea to keep the spirit up during these sort of long photoshoots. :D
      – Lauri

  2. Clint

    Great look, I love these! Were you using a flash with the 3 light setup (I noticed a flash in the video)? Were any filters used on your camera?

    • laurilaukkanen

      Hi Clint! Thanks! Nope, I didn’t use any extra flashes, only the three lights that I described in the video. And nope, no filters either. :D

      – Lauri

  3. Marios Tziortzis

    Great shots and BTS Lauri! Well done and thank you for this!

  4. cvk

    Absolutely beautiful. 

  5. Boris Shabovta

    Did love the video. well put together and organized! really love the final result.

    well done

  6. Carlos A.

    great shots!!! would love to see the post…any chance of a video?  thanks!

    • laurilaukkanen

      Thanks Carlos! Sure, I’ll publish an editing-video about this by the end of this week, probably Friday. :D

      – Lauri

  7. Gsightfotos

    Good job, love the setting and colors. Do you work with alienskin snap art? Its a nice piece of software.

    Grtzz from the Netherlands, its freezing cold here :-)

    • laurilaukkanen

      Thanks! Nope, I don’t use that, but have heard good things about it. :)
      Haha! It’s freezing cold here in Finland as well! :D

      – Lauri

  8. JanKarloCamero

    Awesome shot and production!!!

  9. sarvath

    great shots! question – what strobes do you use? especially how powerful as you have a nice shallow DOF in those photos so I take your F was quite wide open, how do you manage not to overlight it?

    • laurilaukkanen

      I’ll talk more about the technical stuff in my post-processing videos (will upload and publish them in the next few days). :D

      – Lauri

  10. Erica Dal Bello Stringhini

    So cool!! Great photos, great inspiration! ;)

  11. Blake Murphy

    Great shots!! Can’t wait to see the post-processing videos!

    • laurilaukkanen

      Thanks Blake! Post-processing video is coming up today! :D

      – Lauri

  12. B1939316

    To make clothes and dresses without sewing, you have some useful address on the web?

    • laurilaukkanen

      Nope, not really, I just kind of figured it out… :D

      – Lauri

  13. Stickyrice71

    Awesome!! What sort of editing technique did you use on this shot?

    • laurilaukkanen

      Thanks! You can see my full editing process here:

      – Lauri

  14. Andreas

    Great work Lauri! In your final shots I see only two lights the one on the background and the mainlight aka. the octabox. The third light I saw in the video which acted as the rim light of her isn’t used in the final shots – or is it? 

    • laurilaukkanen

      They were all used, but the rim light was on a very low power, just to add a very slight pop into our models back and fill in some of the shadows.

      – Lauri

  15. suzyb

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  16. Marius

    Lauri, it will be great if you could use a microphone, a real one :) just to have a better audio so we can concentrate on the video not on the audio. No hard feelings. 

    • laurilaukkanen

      Marius, a “real” microphone is actually next on my list of “stuff I need to get”. :) I’ll probably get one soon. :)

      – Lauri

  17. David

    Hi Lauri from sunny Southern California! I just discovered your BTS/tutorials and I’m loving them. Thank you so much!

    • laurilaukkanen

      Thanks David! I’m glad to hear that! :)

      – Lauri

  18. Rohan

    Thank you so much lauri for wonderful tutorial.
    visit my page hope you will like it

  19. Finding Beauty: My Start in Conceptual Photography

    […] [REWIND: Creating a Dress & Using a 3-light Set-up | Tuesdays with Lauri] […]

  20. Mathieu Nicolet

    Great Pictures

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