What Defines a Beauty Shot?


Introduction to Flash for Beauty Images


Lesson Info

What Defines a Beauty Shot?

What defines a beauty shot? Well, I'm just gonna show you a couple, actually three photos here, so let's look at these images, I'm not gonna talk too much about 'em, we'll just take a peek at them. Look at the photo on the right, the photo on the left an we'll go to the next image here, okay. So these aren't necessarily the definition of beauty shots, but what they represent or what the common thread is is that overall they're brighter, they're close-up, okay and so most beauty shots, in terms of an actual definition are close-up, so you're not doing like a torso necessarily, you're not doing a full length, right, a beauty shot traditionally is a close-up portrait and so what does that mean? It could mean head, it could mean shoulders and head and every once in a while, we'll go with maybe just a torso, so they're tighter compositions, head and shoulders, we're really focusing on the skin and the face and a lot of times, the makeup, we're trying to emphasize the attractive qualities of...

that person or the attractive qualities of that model, so what are those attractive qualities? Well, it could be the high cheek bones, you know, it could be a nice-looking chin line, those types of things and so our lighting needs to reflect that. In general, the lighting is what I would call flatter and flat doesn't necessarily mean bad, what I mean by flatter is we don't have a lot of shadows, you know, for example, if you had a really dramatic light scenario, think, you know, film noir, 1940's spy, you know, spy movies, something like that, it's a very dark and shadowy look, sculpted, not so much in beauty, we're not after that in beauty shots, okay, so brighter overall, flat lighting, meaning we've got lighting from the top to bottom and all around the sides. Beauty shots are typically very clean, so what does clean mean? Well, we, a lot of times relate white, like white backdrops, you know, white clothing, that type of thing with a clean look. You can shoot beauty shots with a gray background and even with a black background and as long as you're trying to emphasize the model's face and her head and shoulders and that type of thing, but typically, typically you want a white backdrop, so that's one of the things we're gonna work on today, I'm just gonna show you how to create that white backdrop with one single flash and a lot of it is I'll talk about has to do with your proximity to the background and also the size of your flash modifier. Commercial, what does that mean? Well, the commercial look, you know, commercial meaning, I'm thinking a makeup manufacturer, you know, kind of that, they're gonna put it in one of their big magazines, one of the fashion magazines, kind of that commercial, bright, sparkly look. Sometimes your beauty shots can be edgy or artsy, that's fine, maybe you're doing something with wild colors, maybe you're doing something crazy, wacky with the hair, something along those lines, great, maybe a giant, funky, you know, umbrella, colored thing in the background and that's all great. Artistic as well, feel free to use this lighting technique and do something very artistic, maybe you're making your own dress or maybe you're making hair pieces, something to kind of illustrate a concept, that's all good too. Another element that needs to be talked about with respect to beauty shots is you need a makeup artist and you need to work with a really good makeup artist and so fortunately, here at Creative Live, we have a great makeup artist and so getting nice beauty shots means a lot of, I'm not a makeup artist, so I don't even know the terms I'm supposed to be using here, (laughs) the ladies in the room, you can all tell me, but you know, you wanna get rid of a lot of the pockmarks and the blemishes and those types of things, you just want a nice, smooth, clean face and then there's also working with the model to describe what are we after today? You know, are we after you know, just shoulders and head, are we after some type of outfit or some type of dress, that we're after, so there's a lot of work between the photographer, the makeup artist and the model. Oh, and hair as well, hair. So this morning, just so you all know, we spent a few minutes, the three of us, the model, the hair stylist/makeup artist and me talking about what we wanted to accomplish, so we have a place here, it's called the Green Room and that's where we do all our makeup, so we're in the Green Room, we're talking through it, I showed them what I call a mood board, I don't know if you've ever heard of a mood board before, but a lot of times before a shoot, I'll scour the internet and I'll look at photos, that I'm after trying to create that day and I'll just drop 'em all into a Photoshop document and I'll make kind of this grid of photographs, that I'm after trying to create, I show that to the makeup artist, I show that to the model and now we're all kind of working on the same page. Then the last thing I'll say about the beauty shot is a lot of times, we're trying to provoke an emotion from the viewer, you know, you've gotta think from your mind, what is that emotion, that I'm trying to provoke? Is it happiness? Is it joy? Is it health? Is it clean living, you know? Is it, what am I after? And so we're trying to accomplish that, of course with our lighting and with the overall, the expression on the model as well, so.

Class Description

When your client requests a beautiful image to mimic a fashion look, you’ll need the lighting skills to take on the challenge. Join photographer Mike Hagen as he helps you grow your flash lighting toolkit to create that glamorous look. Mike will teach:

  • How to incorporate flash in order to create the mood
  • Using light shapers
  • Various modifiers like softboxes, reflectors and umbrellas

Learning to use flash allows you to control your environment and be more experimental with the images you create. Expand your portrait business and make your client happy by mastering your flash.



Practical, informative, affordable instruction that’s easy to understand and leaves you excited to jump into the studio with a single flash and whatever you have on hand .. soft boxes, umbrellas, v flats or even a bunch of cheap reflectors. Mike is a superb instructor. Highly recommend.


Really good. Superb teacher. Bought it. Worth the money.