Shoot Breakdowns

Bikini Glamour Photography Setup

Studio Shoot Breakdown

A few years back, I did this bikini glamour shot for a model’s portfolio. My goal was to do a bikini glamour shot with some personality and energy. Keep in mind, though, that in a commercial modeling portfolio, you don’t want the photos to be too sexy. Mainstream advertisers are actually pretty conservative, so modeling agencies prefer that portfolios remain pretty PG.

As soon as I saw the tassels on the bikini, I knew that I wanted some movement in the shot.

My plan from the beginning was a hairstyle that wouldn’t be too messy with the model moving, so we went with the high ponytail and styled it to the side instead of the back.

The Lighting

For this bikini glamour shot, I decided on clamshell lighting with a twist. I went with a 21” white beauty dish covered with a sock for my main light and then added a medium sized softbox low to the floor for a little fill. This young lady has great muscle definition, and I didn’t want that to disappear, so this bottom soft box was just a subtle fill.

Softbox and beauty dish for bikini glamour lighting setup

Then I added a strobe with an orange gel and placed it behind the model on camera left for a rim light. I also added a second strobe with an orange gel aimed at the black seamless paper background.

Orange gels in bikini glamour lighting

Notice that the rim is high and aimed down and the background light is set at approximately the middle height of the shot.

The Gear

This bikini glamour shot was made with a 85mm f/1.8 lens set at f/8. The shutter speed was 1/200th of a second and the ISO was 100. It is worth pointing out that I am not shooting at eye level. I wanted the model to be in a position of power, so the camera is slightly below her shoulders.

Before I began shooting, I made it clear to the model that I did not want her to smile. I asked her to breathe through her mouth so that her lips would stay open and I encouraged her to think about something that made her feel attractive and sexy. I also went through several different movements and hand positions with her and I told her that I didn’t want her to move her feet. I also encouraged her to move her hips back and forth to get some movement with the strings on the bikini. Here is a quick sampling of some of the frames that I had to choose from:

Frames to choose from

The final image required very little post production beyond the usual color, contrast, sharpening, and, of course, removing of blemishes.

Other Bikini Glamour Options

If we want just a bit more drama in the lighting, we can get rid of the beauty dish and move the medium sized softbox to camera right and use it as the main light for this kind of look:

bikini glamour lighting option with softbox as main light

Notice that this gives a bit more depth to the shadows and muscle definition.

As is the case with most of my shots, you could also do this with speedlights. Here you can see that I used two small softboxes for the clamshell and just like with the monolights, the bottom light is dialed way down and just providing a slight fill:

bikini glamour shot with speed lights

The big difference with the speedlights is that it is a bit harder to get the background to turn to orange with the light at this kind of a distance. If you have another speed light – which would make a total of 5 for the shot- you can do it much easier.

bikini glamour shot with five speedlights

Some of you may ask about moving the background light directly behind the model. That is an option, however if your model is close to the background, you won’t be able to turn the whole background orange. Plus, with her moving it can be quite a challenge to keep her directly in front of the light so that it doesn’t show up in the shot.

It also goes without saying that this bikini glamour shot can work with a blue gel, or pink gel, or pretty much any color. You can tweak this arrangement based the color of the model’s outfit.

I hope you found this information useful. Now go pick up that camera and shoot something! Because – Your BEST shot is your NEXT shot!” — Joe Edelman

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Joe Edelman

Joe Edelman is an award winning Photographer, Author, and "No Bull" Photo Educator.  Follow this link to learn more about Joe or view his portfolio. Please be sure to connect on the social media platforms below.
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