How to light a beauty shoot

A couple of months ago I shot this beauty editorial with MUA Gem Tyler and the gorgeous Ishika from M&P. We focussed on 6 hot beauty trends for SS16, perfectly executed by Gem and beautifully modelled by Ishika. 

In my apartment I have big white walls and lots of natural light so I often use it as a studio as well, especially for something like a beauty shoot where the frames are quite focussed and tight. 

After feeding the team homemade soup (What can I say? I’m a feeder, just like my mama) Gem started prepping the make up looks while I set up the lighting kit. For this shoot I used the Elinchrom Quadra Pack or ELB 400 super kit from The Flash Centre, which I’ve told you all before, is my favourite place to rent equipment in London. The Quadra Pack is a battery powered, 400w lightweight pack made by Elinchrom. It’s really portable and perfect for location lighting due to the light lithium battery. The recycling speed is fast, you can attach any size light shaper such as a snoot, beauty dish, or soft box, to the head using their small adapters. It has an inbuilt sky port so you just have to attach the partner to your camera and you’re away! It’s one of my all time favourite kits.

Desert rave glossy orange eye

Beach party yellow liner

Squeaky clean spa skin

Custom colour lip

The pack is asymmetric (meaning the output of power is not equal) when two heads are plugged into one pack but you can shoot symmetrically by plugging one head into each pack. With the super pack you get 3 individual packs so for this set up I used 3 heads and plugged them into each individual pack; thus ensuring the light from each head was symmetric. I started with my key light and attached a deep octa box to create an even flattering light and a nice catch light in the eye (the devil is in the details!) Then I placed 2 fill lights either side of Ishika, attaching rectangular, Rotalux soft boxes. There was some natural light coming in as well, which I had to consider when setting the output for each pack. As you can see, I’ve also cut up some tennis balls and put them on the feet of each light stand so I don’t scratch my, or anyone else’s, floors. This is a great tip if you’re shooting on location somewhere swanky.

As any photographer will know, there is lots of trial and error in shoots, especially with posing. This shoot was no different. With each new make up look we had to try lots of different poses, expressions and hair styles to differentiate between the looks. Ishika was a brilliant model with lots of creative input and suggestions for how we could change things up. I love a good wind machine but in the absence of that on this occasion, Gemma wielded her trusty hair dryer to great effect. And Ishika proved herself to be a consummate professional despite the fact she was surrounded by crazy women - see the video below!

Surf school skin

Hyper glow

I’m thrilled with these photos and the work we did as a team - hope you like them too. If you have any questions or would like to see more how-to’s let me know in the comments below.