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Tips & Tricks

How I Shot it: “Summer” from the “Beauty for All Seasons” Beauty Concept Shoot

By fotosiamo on May 14th 2013

Welcome back to the second series of my Beauty for All Seasons photoshoot, a concept shoot that portrayed the seasons through beauty, color, and light. In my previous article, I went over the how I shot and lit the Spring image.


The Concept and The Set Up for the Summer Shoot


Just like the Spring shoot, I shot the summer image from the second story balcony with a 160mm focal-length lens to compress the image and give a bird-eye-view.

For the Summer shoot, I wanted to replicate the brilliant sunlight. For me, summer is all about the beach and the beautiful women basking in the open sun. Rather than just using sand, I used $50 worth of glitter for the sand to further accentuate the sun light.

Unlike the soft, feathered light that I used for the Spring image, the Summer image is large hard light meant to simulate direct sunlight. Even though the light will be hard, I also want to make sure the light source is not small, so I employed a bare bulb Einstein monolight as key. Right behind it on the same axis, I used another Einstein with an open Paul Buff Extreme Silver 64″ parabolic light modifier umbrella at 1/3 stop less light. It is both a large source of light and a relatively contrasty light, as well.

Finally, I had my assistant hand-hold a third Einstein with a 7″ gridded reflector for hairlight.


The Equipment and Settings

Camera: Panasonic GH3
Lens: Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8 zoom lens (Full-frame equivalent 70-200mm)
Focal Length: 80mm (Full-frame equivalent 160mm)
Shutter Speed: 1/160th
Aperture: f/8.0
ISO: 200

Before and After Image


Even with $50 of glitter, I still did not have enough to cover the tarp that my model is laying on, so I had to clone a lot of the glitter gold from this and several other shots. Finally, I used my retouching workflow that I will cover in a future article.

Here is the finalized image. You can click on it to see a larger version of Summer.


Be sure to keep stay tuned to see how I light and shoot the rest of the Seasons shoot! You can also see more of my work at

Beauty For All Seasons by Joe Gunawan |

Beauty For All Seasons by Joe Gunawan |

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Joe is a fashion and commercial photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. He blends creativity and edge with a strong style of lighting and emotion in his photographs.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Lighting | Ideas, Research & Development

    […] is one photographer’s way of replicating hard summer light, I’ll give this method a go at the shoot tomorrow, but without the hair light! I won’t […]

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  2. Ashley Saylor

    Why do you have to Photoshop her face and arm, she is fine just the way she is and normal not fake. I bet because it’s going in a magazine or commercial? Natural, untouched beauty is best. Awesome idea with glitter though.

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    • Joe Gunawan

      That’s just the way I shoot for the fashion/commercial genre: Everything gets retouched. Besides, if I never showed how the original looks like, you and practically everyone would have thought that’s just how she looks like. You’ll be surprised how many “natural” beauty you see in pictures are retouched. For me, it only matters if the image by itself without a reference to the original image looks too retouched.

      – Joe

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    • Joe Gunawan

      And the thing with “natural, untouched beauty” is that when people are getting their pictures taken, for the most part, they expect the best/flattering look they can get from that image. It’s why we choose certain lens and lighting over others. Why else would we shoot with a 85mm or 150mm focal length when it’s not the same as our eyes, which is 50mm? The same thing with how we use light to shape the contours and shadows to hide the parts that are less flattering.

      In the end, as long as the client/model is happy with the final look, that’s what matters to me. – Joe

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