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The Portrait Lighting Challenge: Natural vs Studio

Lesson 10 of 29

Shoot: Studio Light Nude Maisie

Sue Bryce, Felix Kunze

The Portrait Lighting Challenge: Natural vs Studio

Sue Bryce, Felix Kunze

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Lesson Info

10. Shoot: Studio Light Nude Maisie

Lesson Info

Shoot: Studio Light Nude Maisie

you know so I was thinking I should set you a challenge and I'm going to create a window box for you and you're just going to imagine that this window with a flash behind it and shoot with that for a week in your studio maybe I should create it myself yes well I actually think I think that if someone did that guy no florida if you're anywhere near the equator if you set that up in a studio I be interested in the next couple weeks if someone out there set something up like that and I I challenge you to do it and send me my emails on my website send me some examples I want to see it where you can put it on that part of the website where you can show your own way yeah yeah highway creative life the galleries the godless dollars well I have to go and do it now but you can hotwire this into your studio I also feel like I have to go on by a scream in a strobe obviously yeah I have tio because I can't learn and not going to it and it works yeah right so we're going to recreate the darkest sty...

le darkest style with silhouettes let's pull up the picture off the off the lovely lady with the christmas ornament so what nikos down is he stand the christmas ornament and there were shots now what I was doing was as I'm photographing I was talking so much about posing I was kind of taking not very good charts so I'm going to do better putting adjustments on felix systems right so there we have the first one so sue I'm going to show you come with me my love on exactly what we're going to do so we're going to set up a light source in a small way and I'm going to make it even simpler than we did before to see if we'll actually work on dh right can I get john all right so I think we should just use a war as our light source so I'm gonna have to fill a lot of content because we're gonna have to sit up in about two minutes that's how simple it is right so mystic this here and again small light source we're gonna make it big and that's gonna bounce back on here I'm just gonna try we start we'll start building this let's get to the black beef let's like suited with the slit is this thing on yes always helps good so I'm gonna angle this kind of down you mean like that's our food for more let me get thiss edge yeah set it up so that there yeah like the other one will do the same way okay and then I need that one two shoot on uh huh but I like this one officer we can see what we're doing all right sue your shoes fabulous lovely right if you guys can see this on the camera I can do this why I'm pointing it at the war and it's going toe then bounce back and the slit will be here or I could do kind of mega double I just made that up very eloquent with me on a double mega double where I shoot it into this it's gonna bounce back to here and come back there well that's going to be even softer really simple way you just get it back and forth and it softens up it might not work but that's the challenge so like that and I'm actually gonna kind of cheap this a little bit that way what's happening here right I'll steal this while he's doing that may I see what you can come on so now sue I think we should put the scream behind here so somebody could hang you could literally hang some curtains over this I like my scream I travel with it on dh john would you grab it you be come to its point one point two five lovely where's how third b flat because she needs to pose on one right I stole it and then I'll bring it back I'm just a little tip I walked on this so you can see my heel prints you'll fight a shop this out and it's just annoying so I always have a better be flat that I do the lying down posters on that gets more better when you're lying down on them and once that I shoot the beautiful portrait time they try and keep the cleanest and don't stand on them and don't let them down because I'd like to have one v flat that's in really good nick secondly everybody grab your reflex like assistance and they moved them here in this bit rips out inevitably every one of my old beef let's have the broken piece right here they last a long time if you look after them a really long time and they're amazing so that's what we want to you know just take care of you the flats so maybe he's going to come into here this big strong studio light obviously is very dominant right now but it's not going to be in the shots were behind me I promise we're not hiding one second actually we should reveal what we're doing here this's really kind of trust me I'm doing it all right way no attention to the man behind the curtain so you know what I usually shoot with it's so easy to get assistance by the way you just put a call out everyone wants to work with photographers when you have some skill they all come along on dh I get like fifteen emails a day people want to assist me so I put a little database and if I go to miami then I have five people that come up and then I don't need to bring stands they could just hold this it's kind of cruel but it worked really well right let's put this right up against that that the flat yeah actually john we could just move it right I don't know if the camera can see this but let's just take this out of the way for a second and I'll show you I'll show my reasoning behind doing there bones going stop it's going behind you don't just move that way move this that move this with you back to the world back to the wall to the window there we go right so this is bouncing in here theoretically it should bounce off that white war that we're using here I'm doing that because and most people have white walls in the house if you don't paint one white and you don't want you don't want like a magnolia or you know it kind of comes off like muddy somehow brown and then it's going to bounce back through here so that's achieving that soft light again then sue khun do whatever she wants in front of here to modify it so john let's move this back in again I don't I don't remember what that light is set on it's just on and I'm going to test it in camera you can get all technical about it but you don't have to you know you just put it on and see yes they're into issue not knowing your lighting setup that's a loaded question depends who's asking that my client's never but the answer is oh I always because it's always different every you know I look at the face and I can't see which side works better how deep is the eye cave that makes a difference of harm angling the light um that's kind of like you know you if it's sunny outside I like to shoot outside with artificial light as well that's going to change things up a little bit how yeah I mean it's like the men I like differently is it a group I have some things that kind of I always say to my assistance you know it hasn't been the easiest shoot if I go back to something I already know the good ones are always wearing like experimenting trying new things and my assistant goes where did that come from her so I just love this messing around so john just get that the edge of this right up against there should kind of work that c and then we'll stick this back in we'll hide the whole thing anyone have a question about what we're doing so far doesn't make sense how many assistants um if it's just a portrait I don't take that many I'm usually asking like family members off the line oh could you hold this in the makeup artist it's there's not really a set set way but I can talk about that more I like my makeup at us to be assistant because I want them there for the shape yeah I have the months as well and the makeup had us that can assist is more invested in the chute and said that they just sit board off to the side and then you have to call them in to get the hair is used but a makeup at us all my makeup at us love to shoot with may so they come and shoot as my assistant and then they are walking up adjusting holding fans holding um you know he drives I'm choosing here they fully involved and committed into the shoot and remember it's not a commercial shape the person I have to win over is my portrait client and when my makeup artist is fully connected to her and is watching every bit of here movement and making her feel special her body language changes and when she's assisting she's watching the back of my camera and her reaction makes a really big impact on what my client does so when she sees the back of the camera she'll go my client will just go I'm doing something right because she thinks I look hot you know instead of me just kind are amazing amazing like it's may but when might make a pot of season or my assistance is that they glow so big really big difference choosing your crew is so important to get the right kind of mindset to get the atmosphere that you create on set something else too that you need to understand when felix first came to creative life he came is larrys lighting director now that that was the first time I saw him work and the one thing that amazed me about felix was he never once made it about himself he was there to assist laura and he made it about laura and a good assistant does that now a good assistant hands you a glass of water before you think I'm fifty I should be drinking water a good assistant kids for you looks after you and runs everything you need done and if you think about it like that felix has assisted the best photographers in the world and there's a reason that he's humble enough to pull his ego back to loon how these people shoot in to be in this space and to be inconspicuous and helpful at the same time I get assistance that really just wanna watch I don't let strangers come to my studio anymore because it drives me crazy they sit down and they watch and take photos on the iphone as I know you didn't ask for free listen you said you wanted to work for me and watch you know and that bugs may like as a portrait photographer I've got a job to do and my job is to not entertain you and then right when I'm really tired and I need to wrap this shoot start processing it loaded off and come down they want to ask me questions so how would I market myself so how would I like my space because it looks like this that is not somebody who is there to learn if you're going to offer yourself as a free assistant tell them what you can do for them I mean he was a paid assistant to some of the best photographers in the world he knows how they shoot how remarkable they know him by name what a remarkable education to be shooting with these icons because of the way he assisted laura I was so blown away by that and it wouldn't matter if he could shoot it the same way it wouldn't matter if he I was just a cz good he was there to assist her and he acted like an assistant he got larra coffee he gotta water and I watched that and I said that to him I was like you know what I like about you felix in lower there's no ego there but they're not like I am therefore I'm trying you know it's just do the wick but that's a good tip in general because I did his project on the london twenty twelve olympics and I used like a ll the people that wrote me emails and one person from that was just every time I called up and said can you help me said yes every time I said this is not a paid job can you come and assist for me anyway I really help he said yes for two years he just everything and he's now in new york working for one of the top photographers I hooked him up on dh it he enabled himself to go down that path because he just wanted to learn by doing not learned by asking questions you have to find your own path but and not you know so many people email you and say can I take you to dinner can I take in a lunch can take you to coffee and pick your brains and it seems like an easy idea I'm going to invite her out for coffee and I'm going to ask you all these christians to help my business but I run a business so I can't do that seven days a week and I can't do it five hundred times a year five hundred private mentoring sessions and you buy me a sandwich it doesn't work like that and the biggest problem I think is people aren't prepared to do that work anyway that's what I loved about felix that's what he showed me as how you learn through the best and I think there is one of the most important things we can learn how I'm running from suit well and I'm learning from you and you're here thank you yes thank you that's very sweet well you know thank you because I liked you I mean you really just need to think yourself I won't but yes and these are gonna back us yes they are but I'm gonna make a couple modifications because we don't have enough e flats now so but we have absolution way have one more good good okay I wantto so I'm putting two of them against each other because I need that on the bite in the white shell at the back the back black white shell and here we need the black show so we're just gonna do that yeah so we've got two l shapes going that way and that way the camera you'll see it in the lighting diagram afterwards kate will have a lovely reference I'll got and get out tina because it's back here yeah another one yes yeah I just bring it on set please on dh I'm going too so that's what we've got right and I'm gonna make one other change that's my guy for this I'm going to block off because we had just use apple boxes wei had that light coming from above way have a half yeah yeah interesting kind of yaks and I'm just gonna go around the back and have a look that see if this will actually work right so no one can see this in the audience but I'm turning this strobe kind of into the left here on my left and the light's gonna bounce again not directly it's not going directly end up back towards su it's going to come in from the side a little bit so we're going to see if that creates the soft light we have to try it okay all right uh and then we're gonna have to kill oh soo I did wantto explain this again the the neutral density filter I know there was a lot of questions about this and even I find it confusing so I thought himself I'm going to walk through it again if I take this off way then have to change aperture two five six and so I wanted to take because it's too bright that's there forever exposed if I opened the leant up it's too bright so the only way we could get it down to a normal exposure was to take it up to five point six and I don't want to shoot a five point six because I want the depth of field at two point act so but I want to show we're going to shoot a couple of examples of five six so you can see just the effect that happens when we put this on camera wei don't need the session with doc that's really dark car we get out tonight no we don't so why don't you go upto ice oh actually john would you just turn the light up one stop the light is up at full power so I know immediately that I'm bouncing it around back there so much that it's losing all the light but that's fine because I also know that's going to be soft it's not coming in harshly we're just opening holla yeah so just open up or you can also just for the example for the example right I'm also I can get you towards the light source over here john maybe in that way and back a little that's it got to esso and two hundred for me how are you feeling about that yeah I like that it's good so where'd five point six so we don't need the neutral density because it's we've got you a really good soft light okay so that's soft enough for her so this background is getting too much of that so called me darlin down yeah and should we just take for reference and see how much of those were basically the studio lights are facing may and macy and they're not affecting the flashlight that's coming from this but they are afflicted and they're not affecting the stroke but they are affecting their background on who likened her right side making it to light just right so if you would hold this and I want to see how much off that we're getting on your face up by your face nice and close so that should work yes so they're in there a little bit it's actually not too much of a problem is there a dimmer switch on the there is they come down we just turn it down half I think that would be sufficient can we talk a little bit more about the nd filter we've got photo mike who is wondering whether the quality of the image suffers it all from having the andy filter on there no idea e mean do you think it suffers when you touch it I don't know I'm going to buy a high grade one of these I think you get what you pay for don't you I actually think it it gives this incredible look that is different I don't know cinematic somehow I feel like it does oh that's the guy that taught me to have that made me buy it he shoots amazing films on five demark raise and he shoots wide open with the indie filter on and he always has a very cinematic look really really better than most people do because it just chops out all your highlights yeah the good ones are just great really that's what it's doing love that alright this's from cuckoo for su who was in dubai and they have a studio that is all windows so they're wondering if they're setting up the studio lights you're currently using one light can you and using you know the the flats in the walls to bounce it can you use multiple lights to achieve the same effect yes if you kind of stuck him in that same area no all coming from what one side you get the same idea as long as you managed to get it soft if you manage to make itself and you'll be overpowering all the window you'll be overpowering the ambience yeah well they said it isn't dubai yes his problem's going to be that the sun is too strong so he could probably close those blinds and get that soft light if he's really frustrated with the natural light although they might work well if they just use natural light but if they wanted to achieve that consistency or shoot a look book all day and you can't have the light change then yeah you could stack two lights just like that I'm actually going to show that tomorrow in the hollywood lighting set up for fantastic now there are a lot of folks in the chat room who are chanting for felix to come back and teach ah whole course three days of advanced lighting and all that so you were telling nation lighting and editorial really mating be killer but felix you were saying something to me earlier about how it's important to have somewhere to start from when we're talking about like potentially adding two three four lights together what do you think is important about learning this one light simple techniques I think the main as I said earlier take the takeaway from here's to try to you know you can do this and you convey ari it a lot and it will work and that's really what I'm trying to say that's why I'm using one life if they if you get this course you watch it over and over and over and you get this I could then take you to the next step where I really want to build that audience I wantto help people get better at multiple light setups you know the stuff I do you'll see it tomorrow on the war if you go to my website it's is usually I'm daylight shooting with strokes or in the studio with several it's a little bit more than advanced thing on dh I would love it if people from this course get to where that's the next logical step we are no none of the sit ups are felix is sit ups what they are adjust lighting replications of what I do in natural light none of them are sit ups he sit out like he has his own set up so here's name in charge e those disco yeah I love that and photo mike is wondering whether and again I'm talking to you about this at lunch whether you do ever use a light meter in your actual shooting and you said you do when you're using multiple lights yes you talked about the difference between multiple lights and single lights from that perspective exactly I won't get too technical issues this iconic for if I'm mixing light sources then I gotta know it's going to be hard to know what each light is doing on dh but you know us in the end we still do the same thing we just send up kind of trying it on guy I'll show in my own workshop how I built those set ups I think its condition quite in a simple way still last thing we did we were at five six shooting that and I did want to show what this mystical and d filter does when you put it on let's see I on the side here I can't show that on camera it has a grade for how many stops they're taking off I'm going to take off two stops can you get that on that they can get pretty close yeah it just has like these these two disc's basically that twist together twisted on there try not to drop it living in nice and tight there we go and that's now taking two stops away two stops off the light everything so so you can go back to two point eight and get that soft look so she was a five point six so let's try that oh so I'm gonna stick this back up here so I think what we didn't show was what it would look like with the indie filter off okay let's do that yeah I think that was more important text constructed because what happened wass um when I went tio shoot when we first set up the life um obviously I can't shoot it two point eight because this is what that's what happened and then the in order to cut down my light I had to cut down my start to five foot six and then I didn't get that fabulous look so I put the indie filter on all right if one's clear on that it's a nine stop neutral density filter in the filter technically it's the nine stop variable and it's about seventy seven dollars roughly yeah right right so yeah we're going to dim those were any dim them because the slightest kind of yeah let's go down a bit further and I'm gonna get you to drop your robe and get into this position so you know you and you're gonna take it straight down and then I want you um when you were in that position we had this leak out anyway not another one that's it and then this hand there lots of baby back and then your chin was around to me now don't tip your head back that's it just bring your chin around stop too far that's it stop okay guys down here to find deposing lester reference and I want to see where we've ended up with this and we can compare that on screen as well we can get nico to pull up the original on this one I see we probably need to clamp up the light bump up yeah open your uh bump up your s o and I want it I think this has to be a little bit bigger and it's kind of collapsing download it just open it up a bit there let's try that I wantto see if we can get that howard the bubble yeah hope the global please just in front of your face I've just made this light source a little bit bigger because I see on the reference there when it gets close to what suited as possible thank you were getting a lot of bounce off the ceiling which is kind of cool because I don't mind the light coming from up high yeah I mean that if you see it's actually very subtle it's gonna only provide you with the tiniest little highlight but I think the shape of that light now it's close to where we need it to be so you can start shooting right there just leaning back with your shoulders a little bit more that's it in incheon down I stand sets the one don't look so far back you can just keep your eyes sort of halfway between the window me or the faux window a little bit lower may see with your eyes so it's beautiful and soft on here it probably has a little bit too much light so bring my eyes her back down because it was at two fifty so you opened up the light source and I went up to fifty I'll take it back down to two hundred because it's really self chin down macey to shoulder that's a start could girl how's that yeah it's beautiful and still it is a beautiful shot but it is still not close to my silhouette so do you think you were right on okay eyes down you know we could put a little bit of black on the other side open your body up to me just to tickle night stop that and ice down a little bit lower okay is this a stupid question I don't care if you have a beautiful on there yeah beautiful on there my question is why a mind cold and yours warm because they light is at a slightly different we shan't be however were bouncing off walls through skip screams and these all have you know it's not perfect white ok so the easiest thing is just to match afterwards but that's why these come out a little bit woman it's just with the bulb you would probably get exactly the same when felix was lighting the hollywood shot I gave him hollywood shots to replicate like rip okay I want the girl to look like this I want the post look like this I want the dress to look like this on the light to look like this it was really freaky he would put the light up and put it on do little tweaks and all of a sudden you to see it but how I saw it between the shock that I wanted to replicate in the shot that I was shooting was look at the shadows on her body look at that little dimple on her back same shadow look at the shadow on her left thigh same shadow look at the shadow under her rib same shadow look at the shadow on her cheeks and this more light to her face which means I could just put a white reflector and so let's bring my little half white reflector and because all women want their face lit beautifully so let me bring a little white reflector and see if I can lift it up eyes down macey that's such a beautiful and eyes to may they're sorry I'm having a little trouble focusing felix pull your reflected down now put it back up right I'm going to make one little modification suit yeah follow me here you can't escape this one right you see this light it's kind of if we move this edge off the frame towards the audience were going to wrap in a little bit more and I think that's what we've got just to get that light in the face also originally you put the light behind us you put it facing the back wall to bounce off the wall but then you turned it around and now you're facing the shell and about to get off and bring it back so it's bouncing twice why didn't you just didn't want to try it or you were just like now just not just little extra tip that I can make it even softer okay I mean I could actually show you very quickly what it would look like if I bounced it off the wall okay so I don't like the black around your eyes here although this is more of silhouette light so I shouldn't have had her look at me anyway I should have but I am going to move this side ok so that we get a little bit more rap into your into her face so john if you just grabbed this one so I hope you can see that just gonna do this and again that light sources now going toe just ever so subtly cameron come or in her direction all right and I just need that little half perfecter and then they impose sitting back into your shoulder what's ability not to follow it and keep it there and decide down something in us sorry so my hesitation I got a blanket let me do one more my hesitation is coming from the fact that it is dark and I don't have the modeling like cause I'm bouncing so I am struggling to focus you gotta blink sorry dropping down on that shoulder may see that set and then launch and down this way so I say chin between the boob and the shoulder is that in between there between the shoulder point and the nipple is where the it doesn't go to the shoulder and it doesn't go to the booth it goes halfway between the two soup for the sake of illustration I am going to adjust that light is now pointing into this cove back at the war and here I'm just going to turn around pointed at the war and have it bounce straight back and I'll show you without you wait a minute let me then we just get a good chuck they don't know I didn't get it I could uplink and ten back to shoulder just a touch go home or woman you plan to get another blank okay league beautiful it looks bright on the back of your camera doesn't it oh yes absolutely does on there okay so I think they'll be able to see this on the screen if I turn this light on point it at the back ceiling luckily the inside of creative lives blinds is white on dh I'll move this kind of here to give it some distance that's now lighting this area and that should bounce back into here and west who needs it and I'm going just raise this up a little bit so it's going that way bouncing back with ensues right behind here with macy and that should just change it slightly sue don't change your settings I just want to show them what happens ok just drop into that shoulder again for me long chin between your boob in your shoulder cuckoo oh I like that more I like a more powerful like that we've got a stronger light source but it's still really beautiful well we've actually what we've done is focused on a little bit it's actually less soft and I think that mimics more closely what sue had from the outside light because we have some sunshine I trusted you ever yeah felix max online and a couple others would love again to hear the settings that might not have been here earlier what type of flash or you're using here right we'll just talk kind of re center people yeah I'm using a basic ellen from strobe head that has a little it's called a reflector inside to focus the light a little bit on dh scream in a park on a scream and a pocket with it really and you get a lot of gate of phone yeah there's a lot of gator farm going on in this show pocket wizards actually cost money you can get a sync cable for for ten dollars I have never used for v plates for for a single photograph on I was going to say you know if you have a corridor with the door you could do this and put your light in the corridor bouncing back and forth in the cardio and then coming into the door that's what I did when I tested this at home I put it you know I put the light into the corridor bouncing off the wall and coming back and then you could actually beautiful cut out in your door okay lying down lying down is it done yeah we know so we're lying down I want to do the lying down do a reference for now that we haven't exactly right okay yeah get me christmas on here we should have scheduled that listen this later in the year shouldn't we I think I think the black ball should have it don't workshop and its own facebook page his own facebook page instagram page I think would probably bring a different audience than the one intended yeah so that's I'm pretty happy with whether this we're going to give them a ways hearings well there is everybody here get back well you get it there is one problem with this is and it's a miracle we haven't dropped it yet because that's going toe you know yeah uh when he faced told me about the black people are like oh my god is that kind of work and I sectary if it doesn't I'll just accidentally drop it already arrived he's like look how many we have and I think damn it e I can't drop all twelve rampage is maybe later so just threw all the balls are loath

Class Description

As a photographer, nothing defines your talent more than your ability to capture, create, and place the right lighting. Award-winning portrait photographer Sue Bryce joins studio lighting wunderkind Felix Kunze for a lighting for portrait photography masterclass covering the universally most-used portrait scenarios. You will learn how to work with both natural and studio light — so that you are prepared to walk into any environment and take a gorgeous photograph.

Sue, internationally-renowned for her ability to paint portrait subjects with the glow of natural light, will teach you how she sets up different lighting scenarios. Felix, who's worked with the top photographers on earth, will then take the reins replicating Sue's shot — all using artificial lighting techniques he has honed from experience. The two seasoned photographers will take turns shooting, each learning and asking questions of the other in real time.

By the end of this course, you will know how to shoot a variety of portrait styles, including the classic beauty shot, the silhouette, high-contrast glamour, the soft flat light portrait (master that back light!), and old-school Hollywood glamour — all with both natural light and artificial light.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Lighting Challenge Workshop Guide Part 1

Lighting Challenge Workshop Guide Part 2

Sue Bryce & Felix Kunze - Gear Guide

The Lighting Challenge Syllabus

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


Aliah Husain

I loved this course! I purchased it as a beginner photographer, unsure of whether to shoot natural or studio light and how to get the best results. After watching the course, I am fully confident in my ability to use both natural and studio lighting in my photography. And most importantly, I feel I have the knowledge base to be able to experiment with lighting in any situation. I am both grateful and inspired by these two amazing teachers sharing their technical knowledge and a personal piece of themselves. It is clear that they genuinely care about making their students better photographers. Thank you, Sue and Felix!!!


This is the best lighting class I've done, including several in-person ones. Covers so much, and the contrast between and dialogue about the two styles (natural vs studio) was so helpful. I didn't think there was anything at all negative about how Sue spoke with Felix, which a few reviewers said. Clearly she has great respect for him, which she sincerely says at one point, and explains why. Wonderful to see specifically how they both shape light. So many topics are covered. Loved Felix's clear and specific explanations about studio lighting. This class is worth every penny.

Wasabi Ben Kenobi

This was a fantastic introduction to studio lighting, and one of the best courses I've watched on Creative Live. I've only ever done natural light photos, but I want to learn more about studio lights because I'm creating a basement studio. I'm already a big fan of Sue's approach to portraiture. Now I'm a fan of Felix's soft lighting approach, too. In this course, he demonstrates how to replicate natural light portraits with a simple lighting setup. With a big scrim, a strobe or constant lamp, and v-flats, you can do so much! I'll be watching this course again.