Our last thing to talk about is lighting considerations. So, I remember learning beauty lighting early on, and we're gonna start with what I learned, which is beauty dish, or soft boxes. Softer light sources, maybe a little bit of contrast, or a little bit of pop. But I learned what beauty lighting was, and now I know that's not true. One of the reasons people like soft boxes, and one of the reasons people like beauty dishes is because it's flattering on the skin. You're able to get a little bit of pop, but not have bad texture, or light raking across the skin, because a hard light source, like a zoom reflector, like the silver dishes, the silver dishes are brutal on the skin. You see every pore, every blemish, every wrinkle, every everything. But I use them all the time in beauty photography, because they give me hard shadows, and if I want hard shadows, then I just know I'm gonna have to retouch. So, I mean, I used to be taught that you're supposed to get it right in camera, sure, bu...
t you can't also have super hard light and perfect skin and not retouch, so I just know it's part of the creative process. A lot of the shots that you've seen from me, the more dramatic ones, it's super hard light, and it was a heavier retouch. And, of course, it helps shooting people with good skin. It's also part of my model subject selection is people with good skin when I know I'm going for that brutal light. So, there's not a right or wrong light, but there's pros and cons, 'cause I'm balancing these things. I can choose light that flatters the skin and it'll look good on camera, but does it fit the mood? 'Cause maybe hard light fits the mood, but it doesn't flatter the skin. Or maybe I want it to be really soft on the skin, and it does fit the mood 'cause I'm going for something soft. And then retouching, how much do I wanna do? And basically how I think of this is am I doing it, or am I paying someone else? That's kind of how I'm considering these things. Nowadays, most of my beauty retouching I outsource. What I usually do is I retouch the first shot. I retouch the first shot to show the retoucher the level of retouch I want, and the look and feel, but a beauty retouch really takes quite a long time, so I'm deciding how much do I wanna get it right on camera, or how much will a retoucher help me out with. And then the last thing is, okay, am I trying to show texture or decrease texture? It makes a difference, because sometimes I'm going with, it's glossy or it's powder on the face, and so to show texture, maybe I want a harder light source more off to the side, but it will show every blemish, every wrinkle, every pore, and then I know I have to retouch it. So it's all of these things I'm balancing for the light. So, the things that I use most often, most often I use a zoom reflector, which is that brutal, hard light source. I use a beauty dish, which I've got right here, and I use grids, which help me focus the light, or put little pockets of light on the face. These are not what I would say, like, hey, if you're gonna be a beauty photographer, go get these modifiers, this is just what I use. And so, what leads this is what was the concept and what am I trying to emphasize, and then I pick which modifier fits. So, just to give you an idea, this is the same girl, about maybe 20, 20, 30 minutes apart. Totally different concepts. Picture on the right is, it's vintage, and it's shot with one light, and the picture on the left is dark, and dramatic, and moody, and it's totally different modifiers, totally different makeup, totally different styling, but it was on one of my play days, so I started with one on the right, and then we built over to the one on the left later on in the day.
Do you have any specific tips for posing to show movement? Now, I know you were talking about the different hand gestures. Is that how you might show movement when you show movement in beauty photography?
For beauty photography, the ways that I show movement is either emotion, so it's more like it looks like they had moved into that pose, so it's not actual movement, it's just suggested. Or wind in the hair. That's like the key one. And actually, they sell hair wind blower things, that's a thing, but I usually use a floor dryer, like a variable power floor dryer, and I use that to blow the hair, 'cause it's cheap and easy. And then the other way is one of the techniques in that Creative Studio Lighting Guide is when I do constant light and studio strobe mix. So what that means is I have one strobe that freezes the subject in place. The second is actually a constant light, and so if there's sparkles, or glitter, or jewelry, what I'll do is I'll use a long exposure, so the strobe freezes them, and then I move the camera during the long part of the exposure, and then you'll see streaks, so streaks on the glitter, streaks on the makeup, and so that actually is literally movement, and so that's the most extreme you can if you wanna show movement in beauty.
So, when you are starting out with a model, do you start giving direction from the start, or do you kind of allow them to do the wrong thing to feel them out?
Okay, both, and it depends on the subject. For example, I had a subject I photographed last week, who was stunning, but really wiggly. Like, I couldn't get the shot. Like, it'd be so close to good. The hand would be a little off and all I wanted to do was soften it, but she's onto something else, and I'm like oh my God. So, what I like to do is I like to say, "Okay, so what I'm gonna do "is I'm gonna turn you to the side, "and I want you to elongate your neck." And then, "Okay, so, now you can use your hands real soft." Like, I try to see if they can give me something. I find that nine times out of 10, I micro control them in the beginning, and I say, "Okay, so now you know the mood I want, "why don't you give it a try?" And most of the time I don't like those. But sometimes I do. And sometimes it might, just going by sometimes what happens is they'll do something that I don't quite like, but it's close. I'll go, "Okay, wait, let's do that one." I'll say, "Okay, the neck was great and the hand was great, "but I need it a little softer, "and let's bring up the other one." And so, it gave me an idea I wouldn't have come up with, so I find that super useful.