Beauty photography is a very technical genre. It requires substantial lighting knowledge, as well as interest and taste for the subject photographed, and a solid team of creative professionals. The learning curve can be quite steep. Therefore having someone teaching you the ins and outs for the genre is crucial if you want to make beauty your specialization, and save years of learning on your own. Lucky us that is exactly what Julia Kuzmenko offers through her latest video training: Go Pro Studio Beauty. This week only, Fstoppers readers save $50!
Use the Fstoppers exclusive promo code "Julia50" to save $50 now until March 31st.
Before talking about the course itself, I think it only makes sense to first introduce the two photographers behind it: Julia Kuzmenko and Aleksey Dovgulya. In my opinion you should learn from individuals who create work that you personally like and I think these two photographers are simply phenominal .
Kuzmenko is a beauty photographer and retoucher based in Los Angeles. Most of you probably know her for her retouching work, her great articles here on Fstoppers, or perhaps for her Retouching Academy project. Her work is beautiful, and I think most of us who are interested in portrait and beauty photography can definitely benefit from learning from her.
Dovgulya, on the other hand, was a discovery for me but I'm glad I have been exposed to his work now. I had never heard of Dovgulya before, but the recent work he has been producing really appeals to me as much if not more than even Julia's which is a huge compliment. He is a Moscow-based beauty and advertising photographer, as well as a teacher in one of Moscow’s photography schools.
To summarize, this tutorial is all about beauty photography: how to plan, prepare, and execute a shoot in a studio with a creative team. Note, that this tutorial does not include retouching or business but is simply focused just on the technical aspects of beauty photography. Even though Julia is a world renounced retoucher, this training material is all about photography and learning how to get images perfect in-camera to minimize your post-production time.
With the growth of Youtube and platforms such as Creative Live, you may have become accustomed to watching videos and not reading so much anymore to learn your craft. At least, I know I am guilty of it. So I was quite surprised to see that this course was equal parts e-book and video education.
However, it is not a bad thing at all! The e-book is very well written. It is also not too long, but not too short either (104 pages), and it is great to have something to go back to if you forget anything. For example, some of the lighting diagrams shown in the video might seem complex at first. The e-book is great in this case because it has all of the diagrams accessible within a few clicks.
The e-book also lists a few different assignments/tasks that Kuzmenko and Dovgulya will give you throughout the training. Making it easy to print them and keep track of what you have accomplished so far!
The videos are also really well done. The different segments are not very long, thus keeping it interesting, while offering just the important content. The videos really serve the purpose of taking the printed information found in the e-book and making it an interactive experience.
What to Expect
Chapter one will help you get started with the common basics such as what gear you might need, how to develop your artistic vision and taste, how to learn to “read light,” how to build a solid creative team to work with as well as how to lead and organize your team.
While this tutorial is best suited for Intermediate to Advanced photographers, I think the first chapter is also perfect, if not best, for beginners. It goes over very basic things that I think you should know if you describe yourself as an advanced or even intermediate level photographer. The more advanced photographers might be tempted to skip the first chapter altogether. However, it does not hurt to watch another photographer’s perspective from time to time. You never know, you might catch a golden nugget here and there that will make your workflow easier and more efficient.
Chapter two is named "Flawless execution." At first, you might be inclined to think it contains basic content, but that is not the case at all. This is probably the part of the e-book where many photographers will have a couple of "aha" moments. It goes over what most photographers think they know, when in reality they may not. The sections covering common mistakes and working with a model will probably help many photographers elevate their beauty, portrait, and fashion photography if they have little experience in the field of beauty photography. "The Day-of briefing" part is also very interesting.
The third and final chapter is all about lighting. By the time you get to this chapter, you should know everything there is to know about correctly setting up your camera and your working with your creative team. However, as we all know, it's the lighting that can really make or break a beauty image. Hence this chapter is probably where most of the heavy lifting is done for this type of tutorial.
This chapter goes over twelve different setups, eleven of which are demonstrated in video segments. The setups that are explained range from a 4-light classic portrait to more creative setups using color gels and mixing continuous light with strobes.
By recreating all of the setups that are shown in the e-book and videos, you can easily create a solid and diverse portfolio. However, more importantly, you will learn to:
- Get it right in camera and thus diminish the time spent in front of Capture One and Photoshop
- Use gels for creative purposes or to balance different light sources
- Set up your lighting with ease without the use of a light meter
- Chose the best modifier(s) accordingly to the subject
Knowing all this is key to creating your very own lighting setups. Kuzmenko and Dovgulya did an amazing job by condensing all this information in just a 104-page long e-book and a 3 hour of video series.
Priced at $199, this training e-book and video is a no-brainer if you want to get into beauty photography, and are just getting started. Beginners and intermediate studio photographers will truly benefit from this content. Even if you do not plan on specializing in beauty photography, this will come in handy when shooting portraits and fashion in a studio environment. Most lighting setups can be tweaked to work for full body shots or can be simplified/adapted for portraits, weddings, headshots, and other non beauty genres.
For advanced photographers, I find it might be a little more difficult to justify the price. However, if you are a seasoned photographer who is already making some money with photography, $199 shouldn’t be that much of an investment for the amount of training offered in this tutorial. Moreover, while the first two chapters might be common knowledge for you, the third one might just be the kick you need to get out of a creative slump. It is also quite cheap for the content offered when you compare it to workshops that give the same promises (many of which are >$1500 for a single weekend).
To celebrate the release of this training video, Julia and the Studio Beauty team kindly offered a $50 discount for the Fstoppers readers, which will last for the rest of this week: use promo code "JULIA50" (expires at the end of the day, Thursday, March 31th, 2016). So if you find yourself on the fence after reading my full review, the $50 savings definitely makes this a worthwhile tutorial to pick up in my opinion.
What I Liked
- The support of the course, mixing an e-book with videos is great
- The short videos that get straight to the point
- The lighting diagrams that are very handy
- The very detailed first two chapters that will be helpful mostly for beginners and intermediate photographers
- Bonus material (agency test sample letter, call sheet template, estimate template, model release, and project questionnaire)
What Could Be Improved
- Aleksey's voice-over. It might just be me, but I prefer closed-caption to a voice-over narration. It feels weird to see someone talking but not hearing his voice. I love Julia and I know why she translated Aleksey's Russian into English but the whole Male/Female difference seemed a little strange for me at times.
All in all, I think Go Pro: Studio Beauty is very well done and will prove to be helpful to many studio photographers. The content is aimed towards people that want to specialize in beauty photography, but I find it to be actually as useful for fashion and portraiture.
If you are just getting started, feel like your lighting is not all that great, or perhaps you just want to refresh your work and overall approach, this is definitely made for you!