Last week we released our portable light modifier The Fstoppers Flashdisc to the general public through Amazon. While the success of our first ever physical product has been huge, a lot of people have been asking for example images shot with this useful small softbox. Today I am going to break down a simple beauty shot you might see in a magazine that was shot entirely with 4 speedlights and 3 Flashdisc light modifiers.
Beauty shots are primarily used to showcase hair and makeup products. Unlike fashion images which typically rely on hard light to bring out the contrast in clothing, the beauty shot is usually crafted with varying types of softlight. The most popular light modifiers for beauty photography have traditionally been the beauty dish, the large softbox, and the Mola Reflector. I have these modifiers in my studio and use them on a weekly basis but for the average photographer they can be both cumbersome and expensive. If you have ever used a Mola dish for beauty photography, you know they can be hard to store in a small studio and run upwards of $700 for a single dish.To test the versatility of the Flashdisc, I wanted to see if I could reproduce a common beauty photograph like we did during the filming of Peter Hurley's Illuminating the Face tutorial. After setting the Flashdisc up on a boom arm directly above my model and about 3' away from her forehead, I realized that this small 12" modifier actually produced a very nice "soft yet hard" look that is commonly associated with the larger beauty dishes I am accustomed to using. The catchlights were round like a beauty dish, the light fall-off was pleasing, and the surface area was large enough to light the face and upper chest area. Using a Flashdisc to light a beauty shot was actually going to be a lot easier than I had originally thought.
One thing to consider when using speedlights for this type of shot is depth of field. If I were to use my Profoto D1 lights in this situation, I can control my depth of field easily from shooting fairly wide open at f/4 all the way down to f/18 because I can use the monolight's full range of power. With speedlights, you are going to want to shoot at around the 1/4th power or less so that you have a reasonable recycle rate. If you set your camera to ISO 100 or less, you are going to be forced to shoot with your aperture much wider than if you had the power of larger studio lights. At the end of the day your depth of field is a personal preference and you can see from these examples, even at f/5.6, the depth of field is considerably more shallow than the results I would have gotten from my more powerful Profoto studio lights.
Below is an image containing all of the single shots I took to create the final two images. You can easily see how a simple reflector, some rim lights, and a background light can drastically change the mood of your final image. I think the high key white background is the more traditional beauty shot, but my favorite might be the one where the background light was skirted across the cyc wall.
Overall it is pretty exciting to think that you could use 4 cheap Yonguo speedlights with 3 Flashdisc modifiers and create a usuable beauty shot for less than $400 total. This was the first beauty shot I have taken with the Flashdisc but I think it goes to show the versitility this modifier brings to your overall kit. As a wedding photographer, I primarily use the Flashdisc for detail shots such as the rings, shoes, food, and other tabletop items but it really can be used for so much more. Stay tuned to Fstoppers for more examples showing how the Flashdisc can be used in your portable lighting kit. If you have any general questions leave them in the comments below and I will answer them.