Photo Shoot Tips

Wide Angle Pink Clamshell Beauty Shot

Shot Breakdown

This beauty shot is from the “oldie but goodie” category for me. A follower on Facebook asked me for the details on the image since I recently posted it as a Timeline Cover – so here is the scoop. . .

I like to challenge my creative process by trying to do an artistic / creative beauty shot anytime I have a model in my studio – regardless of the purpose of the shoot.

The challenge is to come up with a creative beauty shot in a short period of time – with no advance planning. That is what makes it difficult. I am a die-hard planner when it comes to commercial images – but NOT my beauty images.

My test is to work with my makeup artist and model during the shoot to brainstorm an idea that we will create in a short period of time at the end of the shoot. These beauty images really keep me on my toes creatively speaking.

The Back Story

You can see the full finished shot at the end of the article below.

In this particular case, I was doing two days of shooting with this California based model for her portfolio. This shot was the very last one after two long days of shooting and we were running out of time, so we only had about 30 minutes to get the shot done (including hair and makeup).

My makeup artist had some really interesting little gems that we had been looking for an excuse to glue onto a models face, so we decided this was the right time. The makeup is the exact same makeup that we used for the previous shot of the day. The hair was put into this cute little updo and the real work was gluing the gems onto the models face.

The gems had a pink / magenta tone to them so that drove the color scheme of the shot. The model also had a cute party dress that had a lot of pretty pink tulle and lace underneath. The problem of course is that all that cool detail in the dress is at the bottom – not the top. So instead of having the model wear the dress, I had her put on a tube top (so that I would have bare shoulders) and made the decision to turn the dress inside out and have her hold the dress – bunched up – over her shoulder and across her body.

Inflatable Clamshell
The actual clamshell that I used was frosted.

I didn’t want a completely solid colored background, and I didn’t have any material in the studio that matched the dress. I did have a pink inflatable clamshell that was about 4 feet tall when inflated. Yes – I am talking about a swimming pool floating device! Why do you seem so surprised? You mean you don’t have inflatable toys in your studio??? ☺

Lighting Set-up

I frequently mix light sources and this shot is a perfect example of that. Since I was short on time, I went with the same lights that I had set-up for the previous image in the shoot.

Lighting Diagram

As you can see in the lighting diagram above, I placed two of my 6 tube fluorescent panels on camera left and had them positioned so that one was on either side of the models face. (Look at the catch lights in her eyes)

I placed a single 320ws AlienBee B800 strobe behind the inflatable clamshell and aimed it towards the models head. I did this knowing that I would get a white glow from the strobe as it came through the frosted pink plastic.


Are you ready for this??? I made this shot in 2006 with a Nikon D1X camera. It was shot with a Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 17-35mm f/2.8D IF-ED Zoom Lens lens zoomed to 26mm and set at f/5.0. My ISO was 400.

See – I live by my break the rules philosophy! ISO 400 in 2006 was a dicey proposition and a portrait type image with a 26mm lens goes against almost everything we are taught about portraiture.

Shooting Notes

Remember, everything about this image was rushed and that is definitely NOT a good habit to practice. I mention it again because it was a driving force behind most of the decisions made for this shot. Keeping the makeup and hair change simple; not spending time to create an outfit on set but using am existing outfit to look like something else; finding a translucent object to create an interesting background by only using a piece of it; working with soft, even flattering lighting so that I didn’t have to be extremely specific with placement – all of these things helped to make the shot possible in less than 30 minutes.

I gave my model a specific point to look at and focus on. Watch the video: It’s All About The Eyes to learn more about my process for eyes.

I told her that I wanted her to think about something pleasant, but not to smile. I asked to breath softly through her mouth so that she would not close her mouth (something people tend to do if you tell them not to smile).

After shooting 25 or so frames while searching for exactly the right camera angle and composition I asked the model to inhale quickly on a count of three. That is the frame that you see here.

Post Production

This image required very little post. My workflow is Adobe Bridge, to Camera RAW to Photoshop. In this case I removed a few stray hair ends on her forehead, eliminated a few blemishes and boosted the vibrance.

The final step was to sharpen slightly and that’s it!

The Finished Shot

The Finished Image

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

Watch the VIDEO

Curious about the gear I use?

Joe Edelman

Joe Edelman is an award winning Photographer, Author, and 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.
Back to top button