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Lighting Techniques for Hollywood Glamour Photography

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How to Make Hollywood Portraits
Model: Kristabelle

Model: Kristabelle

Be sure to watch the Hollywood Glamour Photography Video for this shoot HERE

Photography Lighting Techniques are sometimes huge mysteries, at least to the beginning photographer. Sometimes to the seasoned pro too, only because maybe it was such a simple setup that it just couldn’t be that easy, right? I know I am that way sometimes when my friends tell me how they lit a set or how it was just one light or it was ambient light. Lighting has always fascinated me and when I decided that I wanted to take pictures like the people who’s photography I liked, that’s when things changed for me.

I had gone to New Orleans, just after Hurricane Katrina for Convergence, a gathering of Goths for the sole purpose of partying, music and having a great weekend, only much more. I had my Canon 20D and was taking pictures the whole weekend because NOLA is such a beautiful place and there’s so much to photo. One memorable part of my trip was the swamp tour in a boat; the swamp fascinates me, is beautiful and I will be back to photo the swamp again as I am drawn there.

Friends who know me say I sold my soul to the swamp witch we met, because this was the turning point in my photographic career. I had attended the fashion show for convergence and gathered the designers and models together to take some photos. When I got home to San Diego I made a gallery and put them up online. A few days later I looked at the gallery again  and said “These suck!”.  That is when I locked myself away for a year and studied nothing but lighting.

Nowadays people come to me and ask questions about lighting, I guess they say I am a go to guy when it comes to certain types of lighting, so I always share my knowledge of lighting with people when I can. Here are some lighting diagrams and techniques I used for a few images I shot a couple weeks ago with Model Kristabelle. I also have a video I will put online when I get it edited.

Model: Kristabelle

Model: Kristabelle, Black and White

I met Kristabelle at Ink n Iron 2009, as I contacted her for a shoot for the promoter as she was a finalist for the pinup pageant. I had also seen her on my friend Johnny Angel’s Myspace page which is where I originally seen her. Below is the lighting diagram for this shot. If you have any questions please make a comment and subscribe to the comment as I will answer your questions there.

Lighting Diagram for Model Kristabelle on Chaise Lounge

Lighting Diagram for Model Kristabelle in Black and White

Model: Kristabelle in Color

Model: Kristabelle in Color

I decided to show this image in color as I really like the tones and the scene, I like it so much that I am going to print a limited number and sell them here in case anyone is interested. Below is the lighting diagram for this set, it’s similar to the previous diagram with the placement of one light to camera right instead of left.

Model: Kristabelle in Color, Lighting Diagram

Model: Kristabelle in Color, Lighting Diagram

The previous two shots and lighting were done with Fresnel Focusing Lamps. They are a hot light and the same type used in the old movies of the 30′s, 40′s, and 50′s. They are what some of the great photographers used for their portrait sittings in the old days of the movie studios, and it is what I use in many of my photos, because I want a certain look and color tone.

Model: Kristabelle in Archway, Black and White

Model: Kristabelle in Archway, Black and White

This shot was done in the archway of my studio where I hung a curtain in the archway to create a backdrop. I lit the model with 2 mini monolight strobes. The archway divides two rooms and I put one strobe above the curtain in one room, shining down on the model behind her. I put the second strobe with a modified softbox in the other room in front and to the side as you can see in the diagram.

Model: Kristabelle in Archway

Model: Kristabelle in Archway Lighting Diagram

The modified softbox is actually a Photoflex Litedome XS, the part that’s modified is the egg crate grid to control the lighting direction. They don’t make a grid for the XS, so I had to get the one for the next size larger and cut it to size and sew the Velcro back on. Actually I stapled it. I used this XS softbox with a grid, because I like the way it works. People might say the box is so small why use a grid on it, it’s because I like the way it causes the light to fall off around the edges and helps to create sculpted shadow and lighting.

I hope those diagrams made sense and they help someone. I know when I was first starting out things like this really helped me and I was glad someone would share something like this with me. If you have any questions please ask. I am more than happy to help.

Enjoy…

Darkman…

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Comments

49 Responses to “Lighting Techniques for Hollywood Glamour Photography”
  1. Gorgeous photographs. Wish you lived near me. Would be so much fun to work with you. Keep ‘em coming. Absolutely fabulous!

  2. lilaNo Gravatar says:

    This is a fantastic page, thanks so much for sharing how you set these great pics up!!

  3. SÍLVIA MENEGUITENo Gravatar says:

    LINDA FOTO

    BEAUTIFUL

  4. Very nice, and some good tips, just thought I would give you a shout out and cheers for joining BPS.

    Patrick | BPS

  5. RenayNo Gravatar says:

    Larry, the color image of Kristabelle is fantastic. Very nice colors and tones. Thank you for showing the lighting diagram.

  6. capsixNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks for sharing, what a great model, love the pics.

    • DarkmanNo Gravatar says:

      Your welcome, thanks for the comment!!! Sign up for my newsletter or RSS to Email and get all my posts!!!
      Darkman…

  7. David RogersNo Gravatar says:

    As a keen amateur who is currently rekindling his interest in photography I found this a fascinating and inspiring post. I’ve never had the equipment or inclination to experiment much with studio photography, and tend to prefer natural light wherever possible. Dedicating yourself so much to mastering lighting certainly shows up in your photographs.
    .-= David Rogers´s last blog ..Do clothes make a person? =-.

  8. TyroneNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Larry,

    I like photography although not to the point of learning through all these lighting capabilities as yours! LOL. :)

    And yes, lighting is the most important part in taking great photos aside from the model itself and the backgrounds surrounding it – and even it seems that a photograph does look too black in it, I believe there’s still the great technique of lighting and that’s really for me, the most complicated part.

    Great shots, you really are an expert man! Best with everything.

    Tyrone

  9. Lance NelsonNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Larry,

    Absolutely amazing photographs and very fascinating how you so effectively light the shots, thank you. I’ll stay tuned for more,

  10. Equally impressed by the exceptional quality and depth of the photographs and the blog post. It’s easy to see – pun intended – why people would take to the air to work with you. Congratulations!
    .-= Beat Schindler´s last blog ..Personal Growth The Easy Way: Focus On Your Strengths =-.

  11. MitchNo Gravatar says:

    Awesome photography and I think these techniques are some that will come in handy. Thanks for making it at least look easy though through experience, it know it isn’t
    .-= Mitch´s last blog ..Index of Free College Basketball Picks Against The Spread 3/11/10 =-.

  12. Lighting does amazing things along with aperture, timing, and subject. All things I can appreciate, say but not control as you show here. You make it seem like I could buy a couple of lights, a camera and produce these results. These clear examples and good writing create that confidence in this reader. I think I am going to have to take one of your courses so I can get better at photographing my passion – grandchildren!
    .-= Bruce “the Mid-Life Mentor”´s last blog ..SKIN CANCER-5 FACTS TO KNOW =-.

  13. Corinne EdwardsNo Gravatar says:

    This is a great contribution to many who struggle with just the right lighting.

    Some simple tips like backdrops can be used by even the most inexperienced video bloggers.

    This interested me -

    This shot was done in the archway of my studio where I hung a curtain in the archway to create a backdrop. I lit the model with 2 mini monolight strobes. The archway divides two rooms and I put one strobe above the curtain in one room, shining down on the model behind her. I put the second strobe with a modified softbox in the other room in front and to the side as you can see in the diagram.
    .-= Corinne Edwards´s last blog ..WOMEN’S CLOTHES – ripped or ripped off? =-.

  14. TomNo Gravatar says:

    Seemingly unrelated to your post, but I really appreciate that you use alternative text to describe your images. By nature I always look out for the accessibility of web sites, and not providing alternative text is the most usual mistake developers make. Alternative texts greatly enhance the experience for people with disabilities. Very well done, I appreciate it.
    .-= Tom´s last blog ..Closed-Circuit Televisions =-.

  15. wow.. And I’m worried about getting a small light on my desk for a video shot. You’ve got fabulous work here, and useful tips – just wish it wasn’t so all over my head.
    .-= Michelle Vandepas´s last blog ..What Happens When We Die? – PMH Atwater – Near Death Experience Researcher =-.

  16. DebbieNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Larry,

    Having had a brother that was took photos for years as his bussiness. Boy, you do a great job. It looks to me like taking that year off to study lighting really paid off. You are a good example to people in the fact if you have a passion, take some time to study that passion.

    I’m like cheryl wish you lived close to me for photos. Keep up the great work. You are very good.

    Debbie
    .-= Debbie´s last blog ..Make Your Unhappiness Disappear Like Magic! =-.

  17. JoelNo Gravatar says:

    Awesome photos, it’s amazing how much lighting comes into play. Do you do much outdoor shooting? Would be interesting in see how to overcome some of those challenges.
    .-= Joel´s last blog ..Updated Ultimate Guide To Online Video =-.

  18. Hello Darkman,
    I’m back for a second visit – photographs are still interesting, the second time round.

    You’ve made some really nice changes to your blog. Blog experts often encourage the top of the page for ads. Contrary to that expert advice, your ad placement at the bottom of the post worked well for me. I clicked on all of them. Got an unexpected “eyeful” – should have known, given the title ;D
    .-= cheryl from thatgirlisfunny´s last blog ..Guess Who’s Doing the Tough Guy Challenge? Hayley plus friends – Week One =-.

  19. Lisa82367No Gravatar says:

    Beautiful photographs! As a person who has never taken a “good” photo in her life, I am greatly impressed!
    .-= Lisa82367´s last blog ..Welcome March! =-.

  20. TeaganNo Gravatar says:

    Wow, I knew lighting is important in photography, but his is amazing! I love how you explained things, and the graphs showing exactly how you did it. The tone variations in your black an white photos are fantastic, and the colors in the color picture are gorgeous. Whatever you did in that year you took off and studying lighting, it sure seems to have paid off big time. Impressive photography.
    .-= Teagan´s last blog ..Another Food Recall =-.

  21. Darkman,

    You are soooooooooooooooo incredibly talented … it’s amazing.

    You have such an eye. These photos are stunning.

    Thanks so much for sharing your art (and talent) with the rest of us.

    Krizia
    .-= Eat Smart Age Smart ´s last blog ..Best diet: 5 Bite Diet? =-.

  22. Hi Larry, I’m amazed at the artistic way you have mastered the use of lighting in your photographs. I had no idea that it was such an art form – the diagrams that you include make it even more fun – to look at the picture and see how the light was used to get the effect. Incredible!

    I thought I was doing pretty good because I just got a tip today to use extra lighting when shooting video to brighten things up and found it helpful – this blows that away :0) You’ve got a beautiful site!
    .-= Jan – queenofkaos´s last blog ..What’s Up With Procrastination? =-.

  23. Amy LeForgeNo Gravatar says:

    You know….you could sell a mini-course teaching people what you know about lighting. I’d love to learn, and I bet many others would as well. :) Just sayin’.
    .-= Amy LeForge´s last blog ..FFYF: End of a Tough Week Edition =-.

  24. BrianNo Gravatar says:

    Stunning photographs! I’ve just started getting into photography (albeit, with a crummy digital camera) so your site will be a great resource for me the more I improve with my shots.
    .-= Brian´s last blog ..Banner Ad Blueprint Review – Banner Ads the “New” Way to Make Money Online? =-.

  25. AndrewNo Gravatar says:

    Most helpful indeed. I always like to review what good photographers are doing with light. Helps to keep me current.
    Thank you

  26. Wow Darkman – absolutely gorgeous photos. I love the old film look – the women seem so elegant and angelic.
    .-= Keller Hawthorne´s last blog ..Simply Fresh Themes Has Officially Opened! =-.

  27. Nelson JamesNo Gravatar says:

    You are an inspiration!

  28. SamNo Gravatar says:

    Hey, This site is a great help to us just starting out. Thanks for sharing your info.

    Sam

  29. JasonNo Gravatar says:

    Hello,

    You work is pretty amazing. I look at these photos and the lighting is so intriguing.

    I am ready to buy some studio equipment but I have some questions if you have time. I want to shoot glamor and I love the look of Fresnel lights.

    What do you think of strobe Fesnels vs continuous Fresnels?
    Is it possible to shoot with strobes along with continuous Fresnels?
    Can a Fresnel look be accurately achieved using a snoot and honeycomb grid on a strobe?

    I just worry about overheating the model with too many continuous lights. I know a lot of fashion photographers strictly use strobes but it seems that all Fresnels are done continuous.

    Any help will be appreciated.

    • DarkmanNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Jason, I’ve not use fresnel lenses on strobes, I use old studio fresnels and some modern fresnels. You can mix the strobe and fresnel to get some interesting effect, but the color temperatures will be way different. Depending on which way you color balance your image if shooting digital, your strobe light will be blue if you balance for the fresnel. If you balance for the strobe your image will be orange where the fresnel is hitting.

      You can achieve a similar effect with a strobe and a snoot, but me being a purist feel to get that fresnel look, you have to use a fresnel. Fresnels have a hard edge, yet soft falloff that can’t be achieved with strobes, with or without snoots.

  30. LisaNo Gravatar says:

    Great photos! I can’t wait to try these out for myself! I am dying to learn more and more about lighting and the diagrams help tremendously!! Please post more!!

  31. AlanNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve dabbled a little with tungsten Fresnels and have to say I’m amazed at how much light you are getting out of 100 and 150W units. To get that fstop/speed at 400 with my set up I’m using 650 W lights. I guess you are putting your lights much closer to the subject. Admittedly, I’ve not had the lights long so maybe it just takes a lot more practice!

    Great site, thank you for sharing.

  32. NewTo40sLightingNo Gravatar says:

    This is a big help for me. I’m prepping for a shoot in this style and seeing setups with the resulting shot is great. I tried to figure your lighting schemes before I read them based on the pic and once I got it exact, the other times I missed the position of one light.

    Thanks!

  33. YucelNo Gravatar says:

    Great post, love the pattern on the wall cast by shooting thru the plants…

    How did you do the lighting diagrams please?

  34. Andy WilsonNo Gravatar says:

    Can’t get enough of your work. Love the nostalgic look! Thanks so much for sharing the set ups and tips.

  35. JBLPNo Gravatar says:

    Hi, good stuff and very informative, as a long time street and news rat doing more studio. I also like how you use an OM-1 to get a film cap or two. I bought my first OM-1 in 1977, it’s long gone but I still have my OM-4t and a Rolleiflex tlr and want to use them to do what you did, have a film cam with x-sync available– digitals are like the polaroid backs of the 21st century. anyway thanks and keep it up! JBLP

  36. Dave BowersNo Gravatar says:

    Are you in the LA area I will be coming down there next week and would love to pop by for a few minutes, depending on your schedule. Love your work. Hope to learn it.

  37. Dave BowersNo Gravatar says:

    are you in the LA area? I’ll be down there next week. I’d like to pop by.

  38. Dave BowersNo Gravatar says:

    Used it for my granddaughter. Worked first time thanks. You would be proud. Great website!

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