Successful beauty images are a combination of a few important elements: Model choice, makeup, lighting, and retouching. Each one of these elements work together, and if one falls short… the image won’t reach its potential. That being said, did you know most beauty lighting is pretty simple and straightforward? Sure, you can get creative, but we’d like to make sure to introduce you to 3 simple/foolproof beauty lighting setups. Check out all of Lindsay’s tips below;

I use a C-stand for my main light in every setup I ever do because I want the strength and stability a it. Furthermore, in beauty photography, I often place my strobe in a paramount light position (centered) and the C-stand arm allows me to center the light without the pole/stand getting in the way. In this video, I am featuring the Savage C-Stand because it has a bonus feature! It has a riser (little pole basically) on one of its legs that can be used to attach a second light OR you can use it when working on stairs for in tight corners. It’s a great C-stand if you want some versatility and for it to hold multiple strobes at once!

In these setups I am going to use one of the most common light modifiers for beauty photography… you guess it… a beauty dish! A beauty dish creates beautiful smooth light on the skin that is soft, but it also has a bit of contrast and pop to the shadows. It’s great for sculpting features and flattering your subject and creating radiant-looking skin.

Let’s take a look a 3 lighting setups, all using a beauty dish:

SETUP #1: Clean Beauty

Purpose: This setup is glowing, high key, and often when I am showcasing skincare. That’s why you’ll notice this first look has minimal makeup, it’s very fresh and glowing.

Strobes: 3 Strobes

  • Step 1: Begin by placing 3x4ft directly behind your subject. This gives you a high key white background and creates rim lights that wrap around your subject and beautifully flatters their jawline and cheekbones.
  • Step 2: Add your main light (a white beauty dish) on a C-stand so it is centered in front of your subject. Here I’m using a Savage C-stand.
  • Step 3: Put a 1x4ft strip softbox underneath your subject’s chin to fill the shadows. This is call clam shell light.

Beauty Setup 1

Savage C-stand: What’s great about this Savage C-stand is that it actually has a second riser that can be attached to the C-stand leg. This means I can add a strobe directly below the main light that is perfect for clamshell lighting without having to bring in another stand that may get in the way.

[Related Reading: Dramatic iPhone Portraits with the Profoto A10 | Slice of Pye]

SETUP #2: Warmth

Purpose: This one is also fabulous when you want warm and healthy-looking skin and hair. I typically use a Savage Universal Beige or Cocoa background based upon the subject’s skin tone. I choose seamless paper because it is easy for me to light (or not light) to change the tonality to be exactly what I need. It’s clean and easy to modify.

Strobes: 2 Strobes

  • Step 1: Set up a white beauty dish as your main light. It can be centered or slightly to the right of the frame.
  • Step 2: Add a strobe with a 20 degree grid to light the background.
  • Step 3: Have someone blow or move the hair to create energy or interest.

Setup 2

[Related Reading: 3 One-Light Fashion Photography Ideas from Lindsay Adler & AdoramaTV]

SETUP #3: Luxurious Hair

Purpose; This shot is meant to be darker, more dramatic, and more luxurious. I recommend a darker background (here Savage Universal Black) for richer results.

Strobes: 3-4 Strobes

  • Step 1: Use a centered silver beauty dish for a bit more contrast. To learn the difference of white vs. silver beauty dish, check out my other video on the subject.
  • Step 2: Add two strip softboxes (1x4ft) on either side of the frame as rim lights. Raise them up tall so they illuminate the top of the hair.
  • Step 3: Place a silver bounce reflector under the chin to brighten the shadows or consider a 4th strobe if you have one.

Setup 3

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