How You Can Create High-End Beauty Images on a Low-End Budget

The ultra-clean, perfectly lit white background look is in high demand these days and is an important skill to have in your toolbox. In this video, learn how to create that aesthetic, no matter what budget you might be working with.

Having the ability to create a clean and beautifully lit image is not only a useful tool to have when producing short films, but it’s a must-have for most commercial work. When piecing together different lighting schemes, at the end of the day, lighting all starts with the foundation. Today, you'll learn the fundamentals of beauty lighting and how the same principles can be applied to any genre of work. This will enable you to use the tools you already have to create this kind of look.

In this week's installment of Four Minute Film School, released by The Aputure YouTube channel, they interview Los Angeles-based filmmaker and director of photography Valentina Vee. Vee first helps define what beauty lighting is. She describes it as: 

An art form like any other lighting style. But, to perfect the visual look of beauty lighting, keep shadows off your talent by adding light, scout your location for any lighting and production issues so you can plan accordingly, and consider the model’s skin tones to represent their beauty the best.

Next, she takes you through the three setups that she consistently uses when she is shooting beauty commercials. The setups include: a classic in-studio scenario with a clean white background, a run-and-gun setup outdoors using the sun as the main light in the scene, and another setup inside the studio, but this time working with existing ambient practicals.

Of the setups that this video shows, one of my favorite techniques I use on any headshot session, is where I have the background pure white, and place a beautiful soft light on my model. In fact, in most cases, I prefer to use constant LED lighting like the Aputure 300d or 100d as my key light to avoid dilating my subject's eyes, and I find, when paired with one of their light dome modifiers, it makes for beautiful, flattering, and soft lighting across any of my subject's faces. To avoid any unwanted shadows, I typically will place a white reflector underneath the key light, which not only gives me a catch-light in the eye, but fills in any shadows under the neck area. If you don't have the budget to go out and purchase these lights, you can achieve the same look by using a large window and reflector. 

Once you nail down these lighting techniques, you are able to apply the same lighting principles to any of your various future projects. It's one of the most versatile lighting setups out there. What is your favorite way to light beauty? 

Eli Dreyfuss's picture

Eli Dreyfuss is a professional portrait photographer based in sunny Miami, Florida. He focuses on making ordinary people look like movie stars in his small home studio. Shortly after graduating high school he quickly established himself in the art world and became an internationally awarded & published artist.

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1 Comment

Ok based of the article’s title I thought this would be a focus on beauty photography not a commercial