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Review | Melissa Rodwell’s ‘Beauty Photography Exposed’

By Brittany Smith on January 27th 2017

SLR Lounge Premium Members get full streaming access to Melissa Rodwell’s first breakthrough course, Fashion Photography Exposed.

Overview

Beauty Photography Exposed is a great educational resource with a wealth of information. The course is over six hours and consists of two beauty shoots with eleven different lighting setups; two industry interviews, and an in-depth look into beauty retouching. It’s cost is $199 but if you click here from our link it’s currently (as of this writing) $100 off, and only $99.

There are plenty of resources readily available for less, however, being able to see Melissa Rodwell in action and the industry insider perspective is what sets this apart. Melissa Rodwell is an established fashion and beauty photographer with work that has appeared in Harper’s Bazaar and a Nike campaign, just to name a few. Seeing how she works and directs the models, getting her explanations on what lighting modifier/setup she is using, and why, the information she shares are great tools to put into practice when becoming a beauty photographer.

You will learn more in seven hours with this fly-on-the-wall-access than you would from a book or a set of actions. This is a very hands-on approach to learning and the price tag does reflect that. Beauty exposed is primarily focused on beauty photography, however, this is knowledge that can be applied in regular portrait photography. If you are serious about becoming a photographer and really learning the nitty gritty of it, this is a course that you will want to get.

Review

Shoots

Being able to watch Melissa interact with the models and direct the shoot is definitely the biggest highlight of the video. Seeing her light beauty with primarily one light, explaining the type of lighting she is using for the desired result and just the way she shoots is very beneficial. Melissa provides useful tips about lighting the face, what to look for when casting a model, and how to achieve the desired result. She also talks with the models about their career to date and how they got started, giving this added insight to better client and subject interaction.

It is easy to get caught up in the glamour of the finished looks being captured on camera. Keep in mind that it took an entire Team effort to achieve. It takes time to create that type of network to produce these collaborative efforts. The hard work is a lot of fun and you often meet some very cool people along the way.

Lighting Education

This video does require a base knowledge of studio lighting and a foundation of several basic lighting patterns. If you don’t know lighting patterns, have no fear, a simple internet search will answer these questions in just a few clicks, and Melissa’s dialogue is very informative, explaining the type of lighting and the overall look it produces, the type of modifier she chose to use, and why, and keeping the model directed to achieve the desired look. Each lighting pattern includes a 360 degree 3D rendition to show the lighting ratios with the appropriate setup as well as a written description. Beauty Photography Exposed includes copies of 22 finished images with the tech/execution specs.

The photo shoot and lighting aspects of this course are solely based on studio lighting. That means in order to put the material into action that you must have access to lighting gear. The good news is that Melissa demonstrates beauty lighting from using a simple one light setup with shoot-through white umbrella all the way up to the coveted beauty dish brand of Mola, and utilizing two light setups with their distinctive modifier.

Interviews

Melissa interviews working makeup artist and beauty editor Rachel Toledo while Marius Troy interviews NYC beauty photographer Joshua Pestka. They each provide an inside look with information about getting started in the business, advice on reaching out to industry professionals for possible collaborations and what to expect, industry expectations with insight on standard practices, and discussing what it takes to really get started in this industry. Being able to hear the discussion with working professionals in the beauty industry is very useful. There is a lot of good information.

It is a little discouraging that there isn’t a lot of in-depth advice on how to make it as a beauty photographer in this world. Rachel and Joshua both show that they face the same challenges as aspiring beauty industry professionals even with representation. The advice almost feels vague, such as building a body of consistent work that meets industry standards and just how difficult it is to break into the industry. Perhaps that is the price paid for accessibility. The truth is, there is no clear cut path with how to be successful. Hard work, perseverance, and often timing play huge roles. They remind us that it is definitely challenging and hard work – not impossible. As with any skill, it takes a lot of time and practice to fully develop.

Retouching

At first, the information being provided seemed too basic and geared toward beginners. That quickly changed for me within two minutes as I had already learned something new by seeing how a professional retoucher adjusts their workspace to suit them and explains how to do that for yourself. David Neilands primarily works between Capture One and Photoshop, explaining his process from start to finish. He shows his workflow with creating the ideal workspace, color correction, dodging and burning, cleaning up the face while keeping texture, cleaning the hair, and final steps for the overall edit. It is a very thorough look into retouching. David even includes a set of actions to put his methods into practice with your own work.

Approximately half of the education is solid retouching. If you want to learn how to successfully retouch your images, this information is gold. If you have no desire to do this or have a complete understanding of the work that goes on, then this may seem lacking to you. I have found that learning what goes on behind the scenes of retouching and what they are fixing has helped me learn to apply new techniques to my photography to avoid those issues.

[RELATED: Breed’s Fashion Photography Exposed | Now Available for Streaming and Purchase!]

Conclusion

Beauty Photography Exposed is an abundance of information. It is definitely a time commitment in regard to watching it and then taking the time to apply it in the real world. This course is geared toward photographers who are very serious about starting their career as a beauty photographer. The price point is definitely more than a book on Amazon or a set of actions that you can buy without a firm grasp of what it is that they do. The information and education provided in this course are incredibly valuable. You could watch it more than once and pick up on something that you may not have caught onto previously.

You can get it here and save $100 from the list price.

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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