How I Shot This Beauty Image With a Five-Foot Octa Softbox

How I Shot This Beauty Image With a Five-Foot Octa Softbox

Beauty photography can be a lot of fun to shoot, and that is what keeps me eager to keep progressing in my craft. But it does come with its own set of problems!
Every human face is flawed (except for the person reading this — you're perfect!). When an image is taken up close and personal in the way that most beauty photography is done, those flaws are magnified way more than anyone would ever want to be magnified. Big pores, baby hair, blackheads, and scars are suddenly all clear as day. The horrors! 

That's why it's so important for the model you choose to shoot for beauty to have incredibly good, healthy skin — because that will dramatically decrease the time you spend behind the computer editing. Also, your makeup artist and hair stylist play huge roles in making sure your model looks good. A great makeup artist will also help make sure your post work is less tedious. It really is a team and all-hands-on-deck effort. As is the case with most teams, the desired end result becomes that much harder if everyone isn't doing their part.

Pro Tip: whenever possible, fix everything in-camera. The two seconds it'll take to move the strand of hair off the front of the model's eyeball can equate to 30 minutes of editing work.

There are many different ways to light a beauty shot. This is one of them, and I hope to show you guys more in the future.

Equipment List

Lighting Setup

For this shoot, I used a Profoto 5-foot Octa Softbox to light my model. The light is wonderfully soft and incredibly flattering, and I also moved it to a more top-down position and then feathered it off to hit the model so the light is a little more even and soft.

I also had a silver reflector at the bottom to bounce the light back up to my model's face.

Here's a behind-the-scenes shot to help clarify:

ISO 125, f/8, 1/200 s


Honestly, she had good skin. Of course there was still retouching involved, but mainly to clean up hair and skin. You can see the before-and-after below.


This beauty lighting is fairly straightforward so if you haven't done anything like it before, do give it a go. Let me know what you think and if you have any questions.

Photographer: Shavonne Wong | Model: Steele Tate/ Ave Management  | Makeup: Michelle | Hair: Kenneth Choi
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Derek Yarra's picture

Nice images and toning. Gotta love a 5ft octa!

Shavonne Wong's picture

Yes indeed! Once I get over the idea of setting it up, having it around is awesome haha

Robert Nurse's picture

I've got one of these octas and I know what you mean about set up. But, I've gotten better at it over time. I think I'll give this a try! I never thought of using one in this way!

Robert Nurse's picture

Hahaha, I know what you mean when it comes to setting these things up. I've got one and it was a bear to setup initially. But, over time I developed a system where now I have it up in stopwatch time instead of calendar time :). I never thought of using a 5' octa in this way. I think I'll give it a try! Did you use the inner diffuser or just the outer?

Shavonne Wong's picture

Hehe I always make dramatic sigh sounds as I set it up hah!
Yes do try! I used both diffusers for this.

user-156929's picture

"Every human face is flawed (except for the person reading this — you're perfect!)." :-)

Nice article but I liked her general coloring more in the "before" view. Is her skin really that reddish?

Shavonne Wong's picture

Yeah that's the SOOC with just a little contrast added in Capture One! (:

Gonna have to disagree on this one. If you look at most of the makeup campaigns out there, this look along with the editing is pretty standard. There are many, many more over-edited photos here on Fstoppers; this isn't one of them. This has just the right amount of post for a beauty shot.

Shavonne Wong's picture

Hey Bill! Thanks for your comment! Heh I quite like her blonde eyebrows to be honest! (:

Thank you John dor your thoughts too, appreciate it! (:

thomas Palmer's picture

I prefer the before

Johnny Rico's picture

For sure, should have just cleaned up the fly aways and she'd have a better image. Then again she left the fly away going through the eye lash. To each their own.

Daniel Shortt's picture

Yeah I agree, it's lacking a bit of humanity with the retouch.

Shavonne Wong's picture

Thanks for your thoughts guys! I personally quite like the slightly futuristic look with the edit and also the wind in hair look, which was why I had a guy with the hair dryer blowing it around hahaha.
But thank you for your feedback! (:

thomas Palmer's picture

Yeah whatever makes you happy, it's your picture :)

That's why you never show your clients unfinished images. They will always find a way to complain for something they would otherwise enjoy or don't notice.

Shavonne Wong's picture

True, I never do that with clients. Unedited work is also not my full vision, therefore incomplete.
I did think it would be useful here though considering it's a learning platform haha!

This is platform for flexing sarcasm and artistic superiority muscles :)

Very nicely done. I don't think I've seen the octa used pointed straight downward in that manner before but the results are very pleasing. The post processing is great too, clean and not overdone. I actually really like the color grading as it gives it a nice editorial feel. Your articles are really well done, keep up the great work!

Shavonne Wong's picture

Thank you very much John, I will continue doing my best (:

Love these images! How did you light the background? Can we see some with the background? Please!

Shavonne Wong's picture

Thank you Anthony! I wasn't really paying much attention to the background to be honest but it's a light grey in the end result. The studio isn't too big so some of the light from the octa was hitting the background too (:

Michael Holst's picture

I wish I could play with a large light again! They're so much fun.

Shavonne Wong's picture

They are... especially if someone else sets it up! Hahahaha. But yeah it's hard to fail with a nice large light!

Michael Holst's picture

Have you use a softlighter before? I don't think there's a huge difference but it adds a more fine art look IMO

Shavonne Wong's picture

Years and years ago! But yeah I do think it can be quite similar!

Jozef Povazan's picture

I like the one before and btw what is wrong with her lips that she got liquified surgery? Happy shooting guys.

user-156929's picture

It's a hard thing to critique someone's work without knowledge of the client or their expectations.

Shavonne Wong's picture

Hey Josef, thank you fro your comment. AS for the lips, I wanted to make the face a little more symmetrical for this image (:

Anonymous's picture

I appreciate how compresenshive this is. No matter what choice you make, you can't please everybody, but this was a very helpful tutorial

Shavonne Wong's picture

Thank you Trevor! Appreciate this (:

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