How to Shoot a DIRECT FLASH Glamour Shot or Beauty Portrait – Lighting Tutorial

Who says that direct flash is a bad idea for photographing people? Most photographers learn early in their careers, that direct flash is not good if you are shooting a glamour shot or a beauty portrait. Magazines like Maxim have been doing for years – very successfully. In part one of this two part lighting tutorial, I am going to show you how I planned and photographed the images for a bikini composite shot for a young models portfolio.

I decided to keep it simple so I’m going to have the model pose standing against a white wall. The flash, in this case, I’m going to use a studio strobe, but for those of you who are into speedlight photography this technique will work for you just as well. It’s placed about a foot to a foot and a half above my camera. I don’t want it too close to the lens because, indeed, I don’t want to have red eye, but at the same time, I don’t want it too far away from the lens because I don’t want to exaggerate the shadows. I’ll talk more about those in a minute.

You could do this same thing with the speed light. I would recommend getting the speed light off camera so that it’s a little further away from the lens axis, but as long as you’re able to mount your speed light on camera and not get red eye, go for it. It will work in this scenario. The important piece if you’re going to use a speed light, you may find that if you’re going to work against the white wall like I am, the TTL is going to have a little bit of a rough time reading the exposure properly. You’ll most likely have to make some exposure compensation adjustments. The TTLs going to see all that white and it’s going to tend to close the lens down a little more then you want it to for the best exposure on your model.

Part II – Assembling the Composite Bikini Shot:

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Ronnie Hole says:

Have enjoyed your videos for years. Really well put together and informative.

Pradhyumna Gupta says:

Joe looks like the father of Jeff Cavalier from AthleanX!

Raymond Isbill says:

Use your flash naked! Peel off those modifiers and let them run free.

Bartosz Orłowski says:

I use this setup yesterday, and man… IT RULES !!!
my model said – woow, Vogue style !

It`s totally different when you watch vs try it !

thanks !

deltadave44 says:

when providing a model with prints for her portfolio..what size should they be?

Philip Stauts says:

Love this video and information 🙂

Serge Couvrette says:

very well explained Joe. i tried something similar with a friend (girl) but i used a black background that was about 6 feet away. i had 1 softbox over her that was just showing her face , hair and some of her arms as she was kneelin down with her hand on the bottom of the table she was on. i used à sb-900 on the floor with a big diffuser (24 inches) in front. i was experimenting with light and it did à wonderful glamour effect. some what like à beauty dish. i am still experimenting and i love ur vidéos.

rialbb says:

just discovered your videos tonight. awesome! can’t wait to see more

Leroy Grégory says:

You don’t talk about your light setup

Jacqueline Sarno says:

Ok so has not one person noticed the accomplishment in weight loss here? This man looks great! Good work! Love your new image you look so fashionable very 2016 oh and you look really happy too.

David Calvacce says:

you’re a genius, I enjoy and learn watching your videos,thank you sir

Sandeep Acharya says:

An eye opener and great learning for me. Thank you Joe!

quadradik says:

Hi Joe, I recently did my first photo shoot. I used several of your suggestions and the set turned out beyond both our expectation. Thank you and keep up the good work.

Mahmoud Rashad says:

you are amazing
you have a unique point of view

Scott Dumas says:

unrelated to the flash technique but the little comment about eyes drying out with the fan was a great little touch. No one ever talks about it, and the point about encouraging them to blink normally is great. Thanks for another awesome video!

George Martin says:

hi Joe

love your videos, I’ve always liked using direct flash on models. I tell any newby photographers to always experiment and break the so called rules. Photography is all about being experimental and pushing the boundaries. Just because someone tells you it shouldn’t be done doesn’t mean it shouldn’t! Pictures are always going to be subjective depending on whose looking at them, some will like the work you produce, some won’t!

I taugh myself a great deal about composition and lighting using nothing more than a mobile phone! I’m now semi pro and shoot fine portraiture, glamour, events and street photography.

Your videos are great and informative and teach great information both to experienced and newby photographers! Thanks for your time and sharing your knowledge.

Florin Tudor Photographer says:

Thank you Joe, for a great lesson 😉 However, I still don’t get those photographers that shoot weddings or outdoors photos with the flash on top of their camera pointing straight forward. Do you happen to have a tutorial that explains when you can get away with shooting like that and how can you make it look good with such small source of light pointing straight at the subject? Thanks 😉

Mike guitar says:

Hahaha nice point about complains of shadows.. You’re right no one says anything..!

SkyEditor17 says:

Do you shoot in raw when shooting portraits?

Helmut W. Fanck says:

OMG what a great think

Pantelis Xikis says:

Thank you very much for all the cool stuff 🙂

c farrrah says:

great video!

Rainer Büsching says:

never dared to take a one-flash-photo. Next time I will try. … Joe, is it okay for you I download the video for personal use only?

Grant Seymour says:

I dig your content and appreciate the high production value. That shirt is pretty boss, too. I just found your channel today and promptly subscribed. Keep up the good work!

Danny Perez says:

thank you so much for all the tips I will definitely give it a practice

Iram Rolon says:

Thank you for sharing this. Great tutorial

Peter Miller says:

Great vids joe i’m a newbie to your channel watched the 2013 monopod vid where it mentioned the pole pixie can you tell me if this is still available to buy (i live in UK). Big Thanks! for all your work

Jacqueline Sarno says:

Yes I have subscribed. Might I add you are a kind sole to take the time to inform those poor misled model types who fall into the porn type photo shoots. I really enjoy your back end information I want my own studio and camera just seems an awful lot of junk being sold…I’m learning thank you- hug!

Reza Molavi says:

thank you for simplifying complicated concepts. I enjoy your posts and learn a ton.

James Savak says:

Great tutorial. cut through all the bs

skyknightmm says:

As always, very informative Joe! I appreciate your no nonsense approach in teaching. Keep up the great work!

ednikkel says:

hey quick question regarding light placement. you advised to have the flash on the axis of the lens but not too close, to avoid red eye. Terry Richardson does this direct flash thing but it looks like he uses a bracket which places the flash quite closed to the lens…… so I’m confused now. could you maybe comment on this and maybe the differences. I’d love to try this.

Valdemar Caballero says:

jajajajajajajjajja, you made me laugh at “the only people that complain about the shadow is people like….. YOU!!!!! ” jajajajajjajajajajajjajajaja
Thanks for sharing!!!!!!

Alexander Vlasov says:

Great video, Joe! Very good and informative! Thanks a lot.
Though, I would say shadows do matter. If a body is dark, the shadow from left or right can visually extend the body or part of it. And, in result, some part of it can become more massive, which is not flattering for a model in general (could be flattering, of course, depending on).
This often confuses me, when a model looks wider than she really is and then I notice, it’s because of shadows.
And some photographers cleverly use shadows (and highlights) to slim body lines, which is awesome.
So, models do not complain about shadows, still they affect the perceived image, modifying body lines.

surajlaxmisahana says:

Hello Sir, I stumbled across your channel and got hooked onto your videos. You have an amazing amount of invaluable information that you share with us selflessly and effortlessly. I hope to grow as a portrait photographer by incorporating your lessons in my shooting sessions.

Jonnieface says:

whats with the blue nail?

Dr.Kutulu says:

Joe, thanks a lot for your videos, I can confidently call myself experienced, and even then I find them useful a lot of the time, plus you are fun to watch.

One little thing though, whats your audio setup for this particular video? I have noticed that the sound is a bit tinny and clearly clipping, then again, I’m using pretty expensive, amplified headphones so it may not register for everyone, I just thought I’d let you know. Please dont take it the wrong way.

Thanks again!

PS: I’m sure you do have a video about it on your page, but can you please point me to a vid where you talk about what you say to your clients to relax and give you that natural look?

Mark Mondaini says:

cool vid, think I need a cold shower …

Leray Holmes says:

can you duplicate this with a modifier and increasing the power

Luis' Tuber Channel says:

Great video on lighting, Joe. thanks bro..

junaid khan says:

great video (y) thanx for sharing 🙂

Ls Lx says:

Certainly. I did two gals and they were happy with the outcome. I decided to do just one light to experiment and it was victorious

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