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how-we-shot-it-vogue-0001 Tips & Tricks

How We Shot It – The Vogue Styled Portrait Session

By Pye Jirsa on June 21st 2012

Background and Vision

At Lin and Jirsa, Wedding Photographers in Los Angeles, we always strive to create a very personalized product for each one of our photo shoots. We like to plan each session with our clients to ensure that we can bring out their taste, style and personalities in their photos.

During the planning meeting for this portrait session, our couple talked about their lives having careers in the fashion industry. They talked about how they wanted the overall shoot to have a very fashion oriented, magazine feel to it. Something like what you might see in Vogue or W Magazine.

So, we planned accordingly. We knew that to pull off that ultra-soft lighting look we would need several off camera lights and several lighting modifiers. What might surprise you is that we used a fairly inexpensive lighting setup to pull off the effect.

How It Was Shot

Our camera was a Canon EOS 5D Mark III equipped with a Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L Lens and set to the following:

Shutter: 1/200
Aperture: F/9.0
ISO: 100


Diagram created with

The above diagram shows our lighting setup. To the left of the camera, we were using a single off camera pocket strobe firing into a Standard 43″ Umbrella at full power. We used the umbrella modified flash for our female subject as it creates a softer light. Behind that was another pocket strobe firing into a 22″ Pockets Strobe Beauty Dish aimed at our male subject, also at full power.

To the right of the male subject is a pocket strobe with a 1/4 Grid at 1/16th power adding a soft kiss of rim lighting to our male subjects face. Finally, we have the natural window lighting coming in behind the subjects.

We used Pocket Wizard Plus IIIs to trigger all of the strobes. I was pleased with our final results, especially since we didn’t use full strobes and 8′ octobox modifiers like seen in typical magazine shoots.

The final image was edited in Lightroom 4 using the SLR Lounge LR4 Preset System. We will be doing a full detailed tutorial on the Photoshop retouching in the near future where we will show how to clean up the entire image, from cleaning skin, to enhancing eyes, to removing distracting background elements and lighting effects, etc.

Hope you all enjoyed!

Final Image


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Q&A Discussions

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  1. Ed Rhodes

    great article!

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  2. Ronnie

    This is awesome

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  3. Peyman Razavi

    Can you elaborate on the types of strobes used? Can the same result be attainable with speedlites? And what do you think about the cheap off-brand speedlites (they’re like $40-$70 from Amazon) compared to Nikon/Canon speedlites for this type of work. Thanks for helping a noob.

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  4. Sreejit Sreedharan

    What powers were the lights set at? the article only mentions the power for the rim light. :(

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  5. Jorge Pastrana

    sometime, simple lighting, its all you need

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  6. miles

    any you could have shopped the big antenna off his head. that’s a no-no

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    • James L

      Miles, who are you? Seriously. Are you some successful fashion photographer, or just another online critique who can’t take a good photo to save their lives? Why don’t you post some of your work, or at least include a link to your website so we can all go see your “incredible” work. Looks like they nailed the look they were going for, and while the shot isn’t perfect, the lighting tips was helpful to me.

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    • that guy

      James, having some sort of line or beam or anything that comes out of the top of someone’s head is a definite “no-no” that they teach you in photo 101. Miles is offering the same critique that anyone who has actually studied photography would give. It’s not like he is wrong in saying that, any true photographer would roll their eyes after seeing such a faux pas. Try not getting so mad when someone doesn’t share your same opinion. Welcome to the internet.

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    • Pye

      Thanks guys for the comments. The purpose of this article “How it was Shot” is to only cover literally how it was shot. We will be using this same image in a retouch article where we will cover how to retouch the entire image. At that point, we will retouch all of the aforementioned items.

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    • Peyman Razavi

      Can you elaborate on the types of strobes used? Can the same result be attainable with speedlites? And what do you think about the cheap off-brand speedlites (they’re like $40-$70 from Amazon) compared to Nikon/Canon speedlites for this type of work. Thanks for helping a noob.

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    • Pye

      Peyman, pocket strobes = speed lights. We like to use old usd flashes just as manual flashes for off camera lighting as it is cheaper. As long as it fires consistently and is reliable, it is fine. Be careful as some of the cheaper strobes like YangNuo’s have a tendency to overheat after 10 full power shots. Power settings are at full power since our aperture is stopped down, and since they are pocket strobes (need all the light we can get)

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  7. miles

    not a big fan of the light. Way to hard on her face. The shadow under her nose is ugly. Some fill would have solved this. Don’t dig the reflection on the cello either. That’s a technical error.

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  8. Anonymous

    Really great shot, love the expression as well as the light.

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