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Inspiration

How To Use A Simple One Light Setup For Three Different Looks | How I Shot It

By Brittany Smith on March 9th 2018

The demands of what used to be known as a simple test shoot have dramatically increased in direct correlation with the convenience provided by modern technology. The requirements of the aforementioned “simple test” now look a little something like this: a minimum of three different looks in a studio with a designated hair and makeup team in less than three hours.

Kudos if you have access to a notable stylist and even more bonus points will be awarded if you can make it reminiscent of an editorial with up to six different looks.

Gear Used: Canon 5D Mark IIICanon 50mm 1.2L USM LensBroncolor Siros L 800WsBroncolor Para 88 Reflector Kit W/Focusing Rod

Tech Specs: ISO 250, f/8, 1/200th of a second.

This is a tall order, especially in the beginning when testing with a reputable creative team may still be just out of reach. Although it is ultimately more challenging, it is absolutely possible to pull off the minimum requirements of a model test shoot without a creative team in a short amount of time. The key is to keep it as simple as possible.

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

A simple single light setup that is complimentary to the model and easily transitions for multiple different looks will save time, thus alleviating unnecessary stress. If you’ve checked out any of my previous “How I Shot It” articles you will notice that making use of small spaces with minimal equipment and resources is a recurring theme.

The Gear:

For this shoot, a home office was converted to a studio by placing a role of seamless paper as close to the back wall as possible. The Siros L was paired with the Para 88 and positioned about three feet to the left of and in front of the model at an approximate 45 degree angle. The light was placed in a defocused position in the para and angled down slightly to provide sufficient tonality with subtle highlights and decent contrast.

Once the lighting was established the attention was spent on styling the three different looks. The way a garment falls on a model almost always dictates a mood that is easy to play off of and direct accordingly. Some pieces evoke a sensual, soft and feminine mood while others bring forth feelings of strength and independence.

Staying true to the theme of simplicity, minimal makeup and hair went hand in hand with basic wardrobe pieces. A black belt was used to accessorize and provide shape to a classic button-down navy top. A top knot was the best option for an olive romper to keep the focus on the details and the model.

Gear Used: Canon 5D Mark IIICanon 50mm 1.2L USM LensBroncolor Siros L 800WsBroncolor Para 88 Reflector Kit W/Focusing Rod

Tech Specs: ISO 250, f/8, 1/200th of a second.

Gear Used: Canon 5D Mark IIICanon 50mm 1.2L USM LensBroncolor Siros L 800WsBroncolor Para 88 Reflector Kit W/Focusing Rod

Tech Specs: ISO 250, f/8, 1/200th of a second.

We then brought in a stool and lowered the light by about two feet in an effort to differentiate the final shots. A pair of black high-waisted satin panties was paired with a basic grey top and the model’s hair was a major emphasis for the overall mood of the third look. Wild and tousled as well as smoothed back required the model to properly emote and provided two different options within the same set.

Gear Used: Canon 5D Mark IIICanon 50mm 1.2L USM LensBroncolor Siros L 800WsBroncolor Para 88 Reflector Kit W/Focusing Rod

Tech Specs: ISO 200, f/8, 1/200th of a second.

The ability to convey emotion or evoke various feelings are key for successfully creating several different looks in such a simple setup. The goal is to keep the required preparation for each look to a minimum, fifteen minutes or less, and spend the time wisely directing the model appropriately.

A good tip is to communicate the looks you are aiming for beforehand; the more you can plan prior to the shoot the better. Have the model come prepared to wear her hair both up and down with minimal makeup. You can never go wrong with simple powder, neutral eyeshadow, mascara and lipgloss. Save the impeccable makeup looks for another day in the future when a creative team is present.

[REWIND: No Stylist, No Problem – Stylize A Shoot With A Basic Wardrobe]

Gear Used: Canon 5D Mark IIICanon 50mm 1.2L USM LensBroncolor Siros L 800WsBroncolor Para 88 Reflector Kit W/Focusing Rod

Tech Specs: ISO 200, f/8, 1/200th of a second.

Note that while we love the Broncolor Para 88, if it is out of your price range there are a few alternatives that may provide a similar look.

You can also check out more fashion, beauty and model development work on my website.

 

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

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Piotr Borowiec

    I don’t know if I am the only ignorant one, but those three looks seem almost the same to me. Maybe it should be “One light for three different outfits”? ;)

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    • Brittany Smith

      No not ignorant at all. Each outfit is considered a different look, even if only minimal changes to hair/makeup to go along with it. 

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