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The Beauty of Simplicity – Taylor


For this beauty shoot with Taylor I was working in the tight confines of my apartment.  I had to rearrange some furniture around, but it works for the most part.  Most headshot sessions and beauty work that I do is done in the same location as well.

The Setup

As you’ll see, this setup is crazy simple.  Nothing at all is too complicated.

Most of the beauty lighting that I’ve use is your typical clamshell setup with a beauty dish overhead, just out of camera, and a large reflector below.  For this shoot I wanted to use something a bit different.

The modifier I chose to work with is a 51” parabolic umbrella (PLM) by Paul C Buff and a super expensive 24”x36” piece of foam core board from a local craft store as a reflector.

Since it was only myself on set with Taylor I used stools, chairs, apple crates, and whatever I could get my hands on as a reflector holder.

I chose this modifier because it’s not as focused as a softbox or beauty dish and it doesn’t hang down in front of the light as a traditional type of modifier would.  The PLM is also large enough to have a nice wrap around effect that I look for while being small enough to set up in confined space of my apartment.

  • PLM Camera right (model left)
  • Reflector camera left (model right) and close to add a fill light

Later I added a medium sized tower-fan to give Taylor’s hair some movement

Taylor Beauty Lighting Setup

Behind the Scenes – Lighting Setup

Although not in the bts image posted here I did use a second reflector board (the one laying on the right side of the frame) mounted on a chair in front of Taylor that essentially created a wrap around effect to the light.  This gives me a little more fill while not over lighting the front part of her face.

Gear Used

  • Canon 5DMKIII
  • Canon 70-200IS MKII 
  • Pocketwizard Triggers
  • Paul C Buff Einstein Strobes
  • Paul C Buff 51” PLM
  • White foam core board from local craft store
  • 48” tall tower fan


Overall I’m pretty happy with the lighting on these portraits.  I would prefer to have some harder fall off behind the model on the side shot, but that’s one of the inherent issues with using a large reflector like the PLM – the light spill is pretty large and hard to contain.  That being said, this could have been alleviated by sitting the model a bit further from the background and using a shorter lens to capture the image.


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