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3 Lighting Modifiers Every Fashion Photographer Should Consider

By Brittany Smith on May 31st 2018

Lighting modifiers are like the perfect handbag to an incredible outfit; they provide an outlet of self expression while elevating the entire scene. And like the perfect accessory, various modifiers each have their own special niche that can’t quite be replicated by another. 

This mindset creates a false expectation that they must all be acquired to become a successful fashion photographer, when in reality a select few modifiers will deliver incredible results. Below are three favorite modifiers that can elevates a single light like no other and every fashion photographer should consider for their collection.

Shoot-Through Umbrella

Perhaps one of the most inexpensive and underrated modifiers on the market are shoot-through umbrellas. These ultra-portable light shapers can often be purchased for less than $20 and their versatility only adds to their benefit. 

The light can be easily adapted to soften the contrast or increase it by feathering the light depending on shooting style. The spread is vast enough to accommodate full-body images and group shots.

Flags can also be used to create a narrow strip of light that is easy to manipulate and complements nearly every subject. 

Captured with Shoot-Through Umbrella.

Beauty Dish

Beauty dishes are a favorite among fashion and beauty photographers for their ability to envelop their subject in a punchy light with great contrast and beautiful highlights. They come in two color varieties, silver and white, as well as several size options. 

The silver produces more contrast and the larger sizes like that of a 33.5″ Mola Euro provide more coverage. Additional accessories such as socks and grids can be purchased to soften or the overall quality of light. 

Captured with Mola Rayo.

Parabolic Reflectors

The most expensive and albeit most versatile of the recommended light shapers is a parabolic reflector with a focusing rod such as the Broncolor Para 88. Paras are similar to an umbrella in appearance and their shape is capable of throwing a very beautiful light a very long distance. 

Parabolic reflectors can double as a standard reflector that produces light similar to some beauty dishes. Meanwhile, the focusing rod functions similarly to fresnels with the spot and flood functions, and produces a multitude of lighting options from subtle light in the defocused position into a harder light with punchier shadows in the focused position. 

A single light adorned with a para will easily blanket the entire span of a subject and a slight repositioning of the focusing rod by an inch in any given direction creates an abundance of opportunities. The light can easily be feathered and a sock can also be purchased to further soften the overall aesthetic. 

Captured with Broncolor Para 88.

[REWIND: Parabolic Reflectors & Umbrellas | What, Which, And Why To Use Them]

As tempting as it is to collect every lighting modifier on the market, it isn’t a necessity and it is amazing how the right modifier can elevate the quality of a single strobe. From soft light to hard light and the gray area in between, these three modifiers will easily fulfill the lighting needs of fashion and beauty photographers and deliver a quality light that is flattering to the subject. 

Brittany is a fashion and beauty photographer who works between NYC, Montana and LA. She photographs the way she has always wanted to feel and believes in the power of raw simplicity. When not behind a camera she can usually be found at a local coffeeshop, teaching fitness classes at the YMCA, or baking something fabulous in the kitchen.
Instagram: @brittanysmithphoto

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