Shoot Breakdowns

Dramatic Beauty Portrait – Shot With 2 Lights

With Bounce Flash for the Key Light

Here is a recent dramatic beauty portrait lighting technique that I did at the end of a modeling portfolio shoot.

I did the shot with just 2 flash heads and one of them; was BOUNCED onto the ceiling.

The model is a young 16-year-old from Cleveland, Ohio who traveled here for me to shoot her portfolio.


As you can see in the diagram below I had one head, a Paul C. Buff AlienBee B800 Flash Unit sitting on a stand at about 6 feet tall and aimed at a 9 foot white ceiling.  The flash head was tilted just slightly forward.

I had a 24×36” WalMart Reflector about 1 foot under my models face (You can see it’s reflection in her eyes)

A second flash head, Paul C. Buff AlienBee B400 Flash Unit was placed on a short background light stand and about 3 feet from the blue seamless paper background.

A “Blowit”  fan was placed slightly behind my model and camera right to blow the red tulle material.

2 Light – Dramatic Beauty Shot - Lighting Diagram


The image is hand held and shot with a zoom- I like to be able to move and recompose quickly.  As you can imagine working with a fan on a shot like this requires some assistance.  My makeup artist is helping on the set by controlling the fan.  We continually varied the power of the fan and the direction that it was blowing.

Give the chaotic nature of the shot, the model was given a SIMPLE pose and told to hold it – breathing was optional – but she was not to move. I made her breath through her mouth to get a nice mouth shape.

I shot about 180 frames in a 20 minute period to get just the perfect combination of facial expression and material shapes. (Yes, I said 180 frames. Don’t sound so shocked and don’t be so lazy to think you would get it in a few frames. It’s not like it costs any more money to shoot the extra frames – you never know what you will come up with unless you keep pushing the boundaries and try variations.



You know I am always looking to get multiple DIFFERENT images out of my set-ups.  Here is a variation in Black and White.  I changed the models pose slightly and brought her face directly to the camera and adjusted the red tulle and the way it was blowing.

2 Light – Dramatic Beauty Shot - Image 2


The lighting technique and exposure are identical on both shots.  ISO 125, 1/200th sec at f/7.1.  The color version was shot at 70mm and the Black and White at 95mm – both with a Nikon D800 and 70 – 200mm f/2.8 Zoom at approximately the same distance.

Curious about the gear I use?

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.
Back to top button