Bright and Gritty Beauty Photography

This class is a great fusion of portrait, fashion and beauty photography. By making some bold and unusual styling choices, Karl transforms what might otherwise have been a straightforward headshot into an unusual and arresting image.

Model Brittany wears a tulle transparent high-neck blouse. By extending that high neck up over her face, Karl transforms it into a makeshift veil. With this striking look established, it’s time to get the lighting right.

In this video, you’ll see Karl experiment with a range of lighting options, including getting the background lighting just right and creating the right hard light for the model’s face. He also finds a simple, creative solution to the light bouncing too strongly off the studio floor.

You’ll also discover how he adjusts the intensity of the lighting as he experiments with different arrangements of the veil, plus see the pros and cons of using a brightly coloured background.

This shoot proves that beauty photography doesn’t always have to be ‘conventional’. By juxtaposing Brittany’s natural beauty with dramatic, edgy styling, Karl takes inspiration from Daria Belikova, who is known for pushing the boundaries of beauty photography with the dramatic and macabre beauty of her photographs.

Watch Karl’s ‘Interview with Fashion Photographer Daria Belikova’ to find out more.

In this class:

  • Lighting techniques for portrait photography
  • Lighting techniques for fashion photography
  • Creative ideas for beauty photography
  • Styling tips for creative portrait photography
  • DIY solutions for controlling light bounce and shadow depth

If you enjoy this class, be sure to check out the accompanying class “Dark and Gritty” where Karl experiments further with this dark beauty style. You might also like ‘Theatrical Light Fashion Shoot’ and ‘Knockout Creative Techniques’.

Have questions or comments? Feel free to post them below!


  1. Hi Karl, love the video and the way it showed your process. I do have a question regarding the way you used the para centered on the model vs feathering it to get a softer and possibly moodier lighting or is this not possible. I don’t own a para so I tend to use a grid or BD with grid to get that moodier feeling.

      1. Really enjoyed this….helps remind me to try different lighting for different moods and feel, not to just go in willy nilly shooting all over the place. Also the soundtrack who is that?..I like that alot as well

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