Skip to main content

Posing Masterclass

Lesson 6 of 36

Shoot: Clam Shell Lighting

Bambi Cantrell

Posing Masterclass

Bambi Cantrell

Starting under


Get access to this class +2000 more taught by the world's top experts

  • 24/7 access via desktop, mobile, or TV
  • New classes added every month
  • Download lessons for offline viewing
  • Exclusive content for subscribers

Lesson Info

6. Shoot: Clam Shell Lighting


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Introduction Duration:24:19
2 Location Challenges Duration:29:23
3 Defining Shape Duration:17:19
4 Group Photography Duration:09:59
5 Lifestyle Portraits Duration:20:46
6 Shoot: Clam Shell Lighting Duration:22:05
7 Lighting Tricks and Tips Duration:14:46
8 Posing a Bridal Party Duration:41:32
9 Bridal Party Q&A Duration:34:41
10 Camera Angles to Flatter Duration:17:21
11 Audience Q&A Duration:12:12
12 Posing a Family Duration:42:38
13 Posing Families Q&A Duration:12:04
14 Review Images Duration:12:40
15 Challenging Situations Duration:44:59
16 The Walk Off Duration:07:19
17 Plus Sized Brides Duration:17:05
18 Shoot: Plus Sized Bride Duration:53:07
19 Image Critiques Duration:33:56
20 Light is Light Duration:30:54
21 Receptions That Rock Duration:09:34
22 Shoot: Mismatched Couples Duration:36:34
23 Shoot: Indonesian Woman Duration:13:47
24 Shoot: Person in Wheelchair Duration:15:17
25 Understanding Your Subject Duration:13:16
26 Image Review Duration:24:33
27 Wedding Client Interview Duration:25:45
28 Tall and Short (Kenna + Nikko) Duration:06:49
29 Shoot: Indian Model (Simi) Duration:23:49
30 Shoot: Japanese Model (Akari) Duration:31:22
31 General Q&A Duration:20:34
32 Creativity in Photography Duration:18:54
33 Shoot: Newspaper Dress Duration:21:36
34 Creating a Garment: Tool Dress Duration:06:29
36 Shoot: Beige Tule Dress (Jen) Duration:27:15

Lesson Info

Shoot: Clam Shell Lighting

okay so I think we're ready to get started with our beautiful mckinsey model the first thing I want to have you do mackenzie is I'm gonna have you sit down on the stool but I want to show you that the difference in the way that you could sit so just have a seat mckinsey upon the stool okay so now we've got our just sitting straight into the camera like this which is it's not horrible but I think we can actually make this look a little prettier we're going we're going to demonstrate to you clam shell lighting but before I do that I'm going to show you just straight like you know right off the right out of the chute well where we're gonna place our big soft box we've got are basically are soft box which is an umbrella it looks like an umbrella with a softer softer on it just sit right there for me mackenzie loved dull and looking to bring your chin down just a little bit oh let me see this excuse bad love had no looker accused what am I saying okay now look at the light on her face to se...

e how the shadows were kind of coming from up above and it highlights the top of her cheeks but it it just I want to clean it up just a little bit I'm not liking the way that it's making the under part of her I look so the next thing I want to do is stand up for second mackenzie and let's go impose her correctly and the way I think we'll be much more flattering to her so instead of having your sit flat on the bench on on this little stool right here because when you set flat it flattens out and it spreads out your your thigh muscles and it's not very flattering now we can't see it from camera position in this particular shot but I say learn to get it right no matter what you're doing and then you always come move it gives you a lot more freedom so you really want to just have lots of freedom to move about and so start with laying a fine foundation with any any of your photography okay so the next thing I want you to do is actually want mackenzie to sit on this thigh on the this part of her thigh not on her booty so you're going to sit right about here on the back side just a little bit beautiful good job scoot back just a tad executed right there I love it there you go now I want you two with your going to sit up tall with your back and I want you to lean towards me this way you're going to support your weight tall with your back look at me a second and now with your chest lean towards me a little bit beauty well you notice by the way that when I tell her to lean forward with the chest I'm using the back of my hand to do so can you imagine what would happen if you said to your subject hey lean towards my hand with your chest I mean does that not sound that feels really nasty doesn't it it's not no it's not right but isn't it amazing how you can use the back of your hand say the very same words and it's harmless it's completely harmless so it really doesn't matter the other thing I want you to think about is noticed where I'm standing to get her posed in relation to the camera and if I want her to wherever I'm going poster from that's where I want her look I'm going to stand this way so if I wanted her her to turn this way that I'm gonna come stand over here and say mackenzie turn your shoulders towards me this way beautiful now I'm going I know camera position is right here so where the moral of the story is is to move yourself and then you can see exactly the way the pose is gonna look on your subject okay uh for instance if I want her to turn back here I'm not going to say turn left or right I never do that because whose left into his right am I talking about if I wanted her to turn this right say mackenzie turn your feet towards me this way you see and there's no question about what I wanted to do it's really obvious uh hello so ok mckenzie assumed the position and let's go and just do a real quick shot of you right here very nice tilt your head this way just a little bit and bring your chin down a tiny bit love dolly oh are you adorable hey mackenzie what's your boyfriend's name ah yeah uh now you know what just so you'll know she made me ask saito asked that question you know so I just want everybody to know you know that she's single and that she's available but not to any skanky guys only the really cool rich ones okay okay so now we've taken a shot of her but what I want you to notice most of all is look at the expression on her face my feeling is is I love to give people a reason to smile not ask them to do so you see if you give somebody a reason to smile they cannot help but smile and it's a real smile that feels like yeah that's good I love it you know but if you just say to somebody smile way we forget what we're doing and people do this I'll stand in front of a mirror for an hour ago okay and they said well I don't want to show my bottom teeth and they make it a logical experience and it's completely retarded looking okay so give your subjects of recent smile ok so now we've shown you what it looks like with this basically this is the beginning of the clamshell lighting okay grandpa come on over here daddio um okay uncle john can you put our reflector underneath for me and let's see what kind of soft beautiful light we can get on her by the way clamshell lighting is truly one of my very favorite like this is fabulous for doing glamor photography doing beautiful beautiful boudoir photography you're going to start with head and shoulders it's our really flattering light for mature women it is an absolute godsend if you're doing head shots and your seat like real estate portrait it just doesn't get any better and it's so simple I mean look at this I mean we have to we just we have two lights now because we're using a reflector we're using the reflector on the silver side of the reflector notice where it's at and noticed that the light coming from that reflector in her eyes is not as bright as it is from the main light it's a secondary light source but it's really important not to make this the main light you know you can tell if that's become the main light if the catch lights if them noticeable first catch light is in the bottom of the eye then that is the main line and you don't want that because what happens when when you do that is that it kind of makes it look a little bit ghoulish and we don't want that so let's see what it looks like from this way so mckenzie tilt your head just a little this way turn your face that way here love it look at me right here with your eyes breathe through your mouth odo that inside you're just a cute lovett vet in eyes mackenzie oh just shake your head for me to like love it oh yeah we too bad we don't even care oh chin down a little bit missing oh yes love it awesome yeah so you're adorable or what I'm telling if she were pretty distant be an amazing experience see that's what you say to somebody when you want to just like shake him up a bit look at how adorable she is looking now I mean she is just absolutely very very phenomenal ok mckenzie I want to have you do this for me I want to go I want to have you just bring your shoulders to bring your arms and kind of bring him too in front of you and take one arm and and grab it with the other arm beautiful and just kind of pulled together a little because I want around your shoulders in the front just a little bit I love it and no small this time I want a real real quiet oh that's just beautiful children it just a little bit to the ones oh god mackenzie that is so pretty beautiful very very nice and on account of I want you to go like this with your eyes oh yeah you know you got to do kick but I want your tilt your head this way and then I want you like that on the opposite side of the ready one two three get that's the worst job I've ever seen I also love it right there love that because you look at me once you through right here gorgeous beautiful no small real soft on those eyes nice big eye right there and I want you lean towards me like you're peering into a pool don't know that's beautiful yeah that's my girl love it tilt your head the other way just a little bit nice oh mckenzie that is so beautiful stunning stunning stunning this girl is just way too pretty for words I'm loving it okay now now that we've done that let's add a bit of a background like because I love what's going on in her face do you see how beautiful her face it just completely illuminated her face yes levi you talk about her position in relation to the light you've got at the back of the at the very edge of the light source towards the back is that do you do you feel like it changes if you bring her forward more or is that just cause she's tall and she needs to sit there or that's a very very good question uncle john you set up our lights you want to tell him why why did you is there a reason why you put that light right there no e mean I just came out to set up I mean that's my normal position for for a clam shell here so I just got her just behind the light so she's catching like from the whole thing I mean I headed over here would be lighting the top of her head and probably tens right in the forehead so it's just a little forward of the of the person that's right and you know the other thing by the way that I like about working with an umbrella like this with thiss scream across the front is it easier to do clamshell lighting with this than it is to me to have a deep soft box it's a lot easier there's a lot more room for me to get in here to actually get there's a lot more room in this little clam shell area then there would be if I were using a big little bit work of a cumbersome soft box so I think this works that very nice hey just for fun qd can I have you flipped on the other side I want to see the other side of your face yeah just about like that and you're gonna bend this front me a little bit more and kind of can you tuck your front leg up into the chair right there just like that love it love it love it turn your shoulders a bit more towards me this way good job x and then turn your and don't put the weight on your shoulders gonna put it on your butt you see I want to keep the weight off that shoulder because if you have the weight on the shoulder then guess what it's going to give a heaviness right there love it right there okay so uncle john let's like that background a bit and I want to have that background light at least a stop under what our main light is here so we want just want a bit of a well is that the hair light we're gonna put on a background like what do you want it let's do background like so this is gonna work out really good mackenzie let me see how that's working for you excellent can I just have you standing for second and shake oh I'd like to see I want a real messy look for her in her here I don't want it to be too perfect one of the things that I tried to do to break up the experience I don't want people sitting for too long in a chair because it makes them feel really awkward and uncomfortable and it's like oh my god I'm getting my picture taken so quite often I will do this I'll say hey mackenzie can I have you just bend over and I want you to flip your hair and then just pull it back like that I won't just get a real messy head beautiful love it love it love it I don't care if it's a little bit messy no oh see I love that so much better for you I think that's really beautiful mackenzie turn your shoulders this way a little bit more beautiful and then I want you to drop this shoulder a little bit here and the lean towards me love it bring your chin down a tiny bit honey that is so pretty for you real soft mouth right they'll love it and a big big guy oh yeah tilt your head this way oh sweet gosh that is just absolutely gorgeous love it turn your face that way a little bit more love it right there look at me with your eyes gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous so which one of you two is the oldest you your sister okay so you can tell me all the dirt on her right oh yeah very very beautiful uh actually she's doing great you have a very balanced face it's real hard for me to determine which side I like better of her face because she's very very balanced so we have our light sepia uncle john okay let's see how that still like let me see if the slaves working okay right about here yeah but you know what I would like to bring it up a little higher and then a mackenzie scoot over this way a little bit more in the chair beautiful very good oh that's did you can you raise that up just a little bit more and then just spread it out a little bit behind your actually a little bit more right towards me this way perfect good good good good good good excellent very nice mckinsey love it darling oh baby she is ah hotty totty lovett gorgeous very very nice beautiful oh good that's good that gives me a nice see how did literally lift the back of this this background nice very very nice you know what in fact I'm gonna actually I want to bring my my f stop up a little bit I'm feeling like I need to be up a little bit let's try it I'm that five point six now and I just want to pull it to maybe six point seven let's just see what the difference is on that and now mackenzie couldn't sit straight forward to us yeah see I really like having I don't want to shoot straight into her I'm finding that I know that that's not the best thing for her turn your legs back this way like you were a little bit before excellent very very nice to turn your shoulders back this way I love it when you pull that those shoulders back it really just softened her hurt her chest area up beautifully and now just lean into this arm right this way a little bit lovett and chin down a little tiny bit gorgeous and turn your face that way a little bit nice oh mackenzie that's beautiful just really soft I'm gonna bring a real tight headshot love it love it love it part your lips for me just like that love beautiful and I want you to go huh love it awesome let's do one more one more one two three huh don't you love that awesome beautiful okay now you know what I need you to do let's turn that hair light this way and they can see flip around the back way and you know hey mackenzie can I have you take your shoes off and just for fun mackenzie let me have you stand behind that chair right there and I want you to lean towards me you're going to put the weight on your legs not on yours on your arms and ben one me ben did a whole bunch of you're gonna lean towards me right here good job lean with that shoulder right there lean towards me right here very nice and let's give her a little bit of hair a light and I want you don't and just really drop your head this way yeah that's awesome wow had a low baby who is that girl that she just showed up oh yeah donald oh let it wait just so bad we don't even care and you know what I have no idea what in the world I'm saying when I'm saying so I'm not getting you there's just nothing no rant that is just like stuff just comes comes happening oh I like that so much better see I I changed my exposure and I changed exposure to six point seven to just give me just a lie a little bit I want to just pull down that exposure just a tiny touch now a mackenzie park your booty on the side of the that you're the bench one more time beautiful and just going on and rest your butt right there just love it stretch out this arm though a little bit right here and I want to turn your shoulders this way a little bit more right there and then with your chest keep your back tall so that's really important is to keep the back tall and that's why I will save them instead of just saying lean forward I say hey with your chest lean forward all of you that are home and those of you here in the audience I want you to all just lean forward to me for a second you see when you just lean forward the girls dropped down it's not flattering itjust is unpleasant looking now what I want you all to do now that's different is this time I want you to lean forward to me with your chest do you see how it pulls your back up a bit straighter it really makes all the difference in the world oh yeah that's really nice mackenzie I love that let's see how that looks for you gorgeous and now we've just taken that background light and we've added a touch of hair light on her list oh that's beautiful uncle john that is just gorgeous on the hair light I love see how we get these subtle we'll get the subtle little shades of highlight on her hair it's going to be absolute beautiful I love it so it's not overpowering it's not overpowering this subject so many times to see people when they do head shots and they liked the hair the hair light is too strong it's too strong and then it starts pulling your eye away from the face and again the end of the day it's about the face so real soft mackenzie I loved the expression on your face right there beautiful chin down a tiny bit lovett gorgeous honey very very nice children is just a tiny bit I love it oh you have such a gorgeous face wow beautiful beautiful beautiful now you know what I want to do is I want to change my perspective on this so what I need is a stepladder can we get uh need probably to be up higher I need to be like about three feet high so what I'm gonna do now is we're going to change the perspective a bit because what I'd like to do is to get mckinsey to sit down but I want to get up I get a higher camera angle on her yes question from the internet could you from brenda j when you say one stop under for the backlight do you mean hot or so of the maine is f a the background is f eleven on the race question can you talk to them again opposite you want that background light if you want it to be less intense than the foreground light because if you don't then you're going to have a real bright spot on the hair that would be too too too bright and it's gonna pull the eye away great question really good question another quick question bambi yes for the from gallup lean forward with the chest is that for men also are just women excellent question generally it applies to everyone but in degrees in other words I still want mento lean forward powerful e but I don't want him like arching their back and getting your all girly about it so you have there's degrees to it like levi come here kitty so levi just stand right here for just a second and if I just said just lean toward to be like this see how it just kind of rounds the shoulder's out now levi turn your feet this way a little bit beautiful like that and I want to bring this foot towards me and what I want him to do is leave I want to live this foot off the floor for a second just lift it off the floor per minute now when he lifts his foot off the floor where does the wait go to the only place left for it to go which is to the back leg and then I want you to just step down a little bit right here but I want a rule soft foot I want you step on a butterfly but you're not going to squish it okay so now we have him I have him standing with the weight on the back leg now in levi's case I might want to change that and I may want to give him more strength and make him look more powerful so now levi with your chest and this shoulder right here lean towards me this way beautiful now in this case you basically you can rock forward cia can go forward and backwards that's what I want you to know have you lean forward see now look at the difference that it made in him when he leaned forward now lean back on your just like that beautiful tall with your back and then lean towards me with your chest beautiful lean ok standing tall on your back foot and now lean forward to me and now with your chest lean towards me beautiful see how that little tiny subtle movements that really makes the difference in the way that somebody's perceived to be put your head in your pants pocket for a second I'm so glad you suck your thumb in the pocket you know why there's so many photographers photographers were so funny they're like oh no you gotta leave a little hot dog out of the pocket of the from and that is the cheesiest taken I know it's so sorry it's ridiculous but I'm sorry there's not a real man in america or in any other part of the world that who got my model you know and we don't care what you're doing with your hand in your pocket it's okay you know just leave your hand in because that's just what real people do is they put their hand in the pocket just comfortable now if you're gonna be judged on photographic competition you probably need to have a little hot dog the thumb hanging out of the pocket because they will dock you points for that just so you know okay thank you so much levi thank goodness we're photographing mckinsey here and not leave I would that be a stretch of my photograph fix deals for sure ok we're gonna go we're gonna go up now because I want to change my camera angle on mackenzie space we're gonna keep our clamshell whiting but we're going to just pull everything up a little bit I love working from a hand higher camera angle I just for me it just gives me a more interesting scenario now first let me get up here and I'm probably gonna have you bring that the reflector up this well but before you do that let's see what it looks like from here yeah I think so too I might have to love it beautiful mackenzie tilt your head this way a little bit gorgeous let's see what we got here actually I love love love the way this looks for her okay I see how much you were how we've changed look at what it did to her chin her jaw area looks really beautiful turn your face a little bit this way mckinsey see how we flat right there now see how because of the higher camera angle we see that she's got a bit of a jawline I really like this I think this is quite pretty but let's take that reflector and we do we could probably could go up I mean go down a stop and go to f are up it's up to five point six a little bit more uncle john me see how that works right there beautiful excellent right in their stunning darling you are just a stunning lovely lovely girl gorgeous we'll see how that looks right there beautiful so now I feel like I have the best of both worlds I'm able to see those beautiful cheekbones it's not quite is heavy it's not quite as heavy and a za normal clam shell but it's still fills in nicely on the face so there's always degrees on where you can go when you're creating portrait of your subject again I love love love trying to just change my perspective on it where I'm where I'm standing in relation to the subject one last thing I want to do is I want you to take this hand right here and just bring it up like here on your face or hear love it but I want you to really work into it lean into your hands like their love your chin up a little bit more but really just let me bring him just right in front of your face right here you're perfect right there love dulling and put it right in front of your face right there love it right cover those lips just a little bit of a whole bunch I love the darling oh just going to cover that ugly face up a whole bunch yeah that's a loving darling excellent you're very very cute you know it just relax your hands and just shake your head for me that's awesome that's what I'm looking for right there beautiful lena straight towards me right here gorgeous chin down a little bit lovett I want real stuff big guys love it right there gorgeous perfect good job excellent excellent excellent okay we're going to switch our light up a little bit now I love that I'll tell you right now I think that's quite pretty that's just looks very beautiful for her now what we're gonna do is we're gonna change our lights up and we're gonna do more of a traditional three two one lighting ratio we're going I want to show you the difference in the different kinds of light modifiers that you can use and the way that you can sculpt the face and the different kinds of looks that you can get by the light modifier that you use one thing to keep in mind is that no matter what kind of light modifier that you use the closer you bring that light modifier or the light to the subject's face the softer the light becomes so in other words we could take this bare bulb and we could bring that light real close to her face and it would become a very soft light source and here's a really just an easy way to remember that is the sun in the sky a small light source or big light source it's actually a very big life source but it's so far away it's a small light source so on a bright sunny day you get real sharp crisp shadows on the subject really sharp krista shadows but the reason on a foggy day or a day when you have clouds like we have here seattle I cannot believe that we have sun right now this is just so crazy what is the deal with this you know as soon as we want to go outside to photograph it'll start pouring down rain again um but when you have like a cloudy overcast day because you're that cloud cover it spreads that sunlight and that's what makes the light very very soft so just to remember the fact that the closer the light sources to the subject's face that that will make the bit that'll make that light source of bigger light source

Class Description

Do you have problems diverse groups of clients? Are you unsure if your lighting and posing are on point? Join award-winning and Nikon Ambassador Bambi Cantrell in this comprehensive class covering all aspects of posing, lighting and developing a successful portrait studio.

In this class, Bambi will:

  • Show you the best lighting for different scenarios
  • Camera angles that flatter
  • How to add creativity to your portrait shoots

You will learn ​Bambi​'s​ secrets of how she continues to innovate in her photography and business​.​


a Creativelive Student

I almost didn't bought this course due to low rating and what other reviewers were saying about her, but because it was on sale at incredibly low price that i decided to bite the bullet. And I am so glad I did. First of, for those reviewer that find her offensive, because she talks loud or make some jokes to her models or her audience, i don't think that it is offensive at all and neither did her audience or everyone in the studio. As a matter of fact, they were enjoying it. And I did too, was laughing while watching them laugh and having a good time. There was nothing wrong with the audio. I heard her just fine. I found her class to be the best class ever because she only not answers questions by theory, she demonstrate them live with the participation of her audience and the creative live crew and that's what made her class very interesting and not boring. She also uses real people and not models with perfect sizes or figures and it really helped me a lot because i have a challenge when it comes to posing plus sized people. I love her sense of bluntness, humor and at the same time, all the wonderful nuggets of wisdom she shared to her audience. I had purchased tons of creative class about photography and to tell you honestly, i haven even watched the full content on some of these classes because i get sleepy and bored but with Bambi's class, i watched her class in just 2 days without even feeling bored. I don't write reviews and in fact this is my first time to write a review here on creative live because i just feel the need to say that it's very unfair for her to be criticized liked that. I love you Bambi, I love your personality, I love your style and the information you taught were very invaluable. Thank you.

Melissa Baker Griffin

Loved the invaluable lessons! I can't wait to go through them all again. They are jam packed with valuable and tactical information that creatives on every level can take from. Her energy and personal style creates a great experience! I can only imagine how cool it would be to take a class from her in person! She is such a treat and so inspiring! I LOVE how enthusiastic Bambi is about the questions she receives and encourages phototgraphers to continue to grow, learn, and think out of the box. Thank you creative live! I feel like there should've been something like fire works at the end because she did outstanding!

Anne Dougherty

I’ll be honest. Ms Cantrell moves very fast, but her experience, humor and confidence are infectious. I thought I would check out a lesson or two and ended up watching and listening to her entire program. She is clear about her process and why it works so well. Her portraits are beautiful, whether individual or group situations. I thoroughly enjoyed the presentations, and I am a landscape and pet photographer. But I feel like I learned a lot about seeing, and was reminded of approaches to running your own creative business that are valuable for anyone. I have been very impressed by the professional instructors in every one of the CreativeLive courses I’ve watched or bought. It’s not every professional who can teach! I know. I am one who could not handle classroom situations. So happy I was able to join in on these classes. Thank you, Bambi, for all of your energy, and for sharing your knowledge with all of us. This was quite a ride!