Three Ways to Use a Beauty Dish

A beauty dish can be extremely versatile if you learn how to control the way it modifies light. Most photographers simply use beauty dishes to light the face, but you can use it to light full length photos if you know how to position the light correctly. In this video, I’ll demonstrate three ways to use a beauty dish for beauty and fashion photography.

For those of you who have never used or picked up a beauty dish before, know that a beauty dish is a shallow parabolic reflector that mounts to the front of your strobe light. The light is designed so that light traveling from the strobe reflects off of a small plate on the front of the beauty dish. The light then reflects off the curved interior wall of the beauty dish, creating a light source that is considered “semi-hard” light. It’s basically a combination of a softbox and direct flash.

The curved shape of the beauty dish aims most of the light toward the subject and therefore is extremely directional. Beauty dishes come in two different coatings: white and silver. The silver coating creates more specular contrast than the white one. Note that this draws more attention to unwanted skin blemishes, which is why I prefer the white coating.

You can also invest in diffusion material and honeycomb grids for your beauty dish in order to control the quality and direction of light. Diffusion material will allow you to soften the intensity of the beauty dish, and honeycomb grids will allow you to better control the direction of light. Some photographers will even combine those two modifiers in an effort to create strong directional light.

For this tutorial, I’m primarily using a Phottix Indra 500 and a 16" Phottix Pro Beauty Dish MK II. If you have any questions about light modifiers, look no further. Here are two of the final images from this video. You can find the rest on my Facebook Page.

Jeff Rojas's picture

Jeff Rojas is an American photographer, author and educator based in New York City. His primary body of work includes portrait and fashion photography that has been published in both Elle and Esquire. Jeff also frequents as a photography instructor. His teaching experience includes platforms like CreativeLive, WPPI, the Photo Plus Expo, and APA.

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I'm not sure your list is truly complete. You didn't mention as a giant salad bowl or as a funny hat.

lol Damn it.... I missed the mark. :P :D

using a softbox as a background for headshots is such a simple yet brilliant idea I can't believe I've never thought of it. sure beats lugging out a heavy roll of seamless background paper and setting up stands just for a few quick shots. that in of itself was worth watching the video for.

I just pop a speedlight against white or light nutralish wall.

Thanks so much for taking the time to watch. :) Glad that I could be of help. :)

Great overview Jeff, great to see what you can deliver with minimal equipment

Thank you so much Timothy! :)

Confidently stunning work

Thank you infinitely Sean! :)

HI Jeff, compelling shots! Is the soft box behind her a continuous light source - modelling light? or does it flash also?