I’ve always said to myself at the beginning of every photo-shoot that lighting is crucial to make a great photograph, especially with portraits. Whether you are on locations, in a studio or just simply doing street photography, you have to know how you are going to light your subjects.

I’ve had a fashion photo-shoot on Friday last week. The above image came out and I like it so much that I shared it to many of my photography friends. Since then, I’ve got lots of questions from them asking what kind of lighting I used, what are the props, etc.? So I decided to write a blog on how I go about making this picture.

Camera 5D Mark II
Lens 50EF f/1.2 L
Speedlite 580ex II

Camera settings:
ISO 100
Aperture f/5.6
Shutter speed 1/200

This is the lighting diagram.


I knew I wanted a harsh light look, so I didn’t use any modifier on the flash. The 580ex II is set at 70mm zoom, placed 2 meters away from the model, same high as her and point straight towards her head.

I had my assistant holding some flowers halfway between the model and the flash and that creates a shadow pattern that you see on the model’s body. This is the disadvantage of having a flash compared to a HMI light source. You simply don’t know where the shadow will fall, so I’ve had to play around a lot with the flowers to get the light to fall right where I windows want it to be.

That is the technical part explained. Everything else is up to you. I hope that you find this blog post helpful and inspire you to create some excellent images.

I have to say a big thank you to the model Vincent Littlehat for being such a great person to work with and to the lovely make up artist Jess Whitbread. Thank you.