Modern Fashion Fantasy Shoot

Bold, juxtaposing colors and strong form were key elements in this futuristic sci-fi style image that Karl created as part of a series of fashion images with model Kariss Craig, professional fashion stylist Bianca Swan and makeup artist and hair stylist Shanine Levrier.

In this photography class, Karl guides you through each step of achieving this dramatic image – from creating your own props to gradually building your lighting setup and determining camera settings and power ratios.

In this class:

  • Where to find ideas and inspiration for fashion photography
  • How to create your own props and accessories
  • Lighting setups for fashion photography
  • How to work with fresnel lighting modifiers
  • Understanding colour and how to use it for dramatic effect

To incorporate the vibrant colors I’d envisaged, I used a bold red background to offset the blue fashion accessory I’d created for Kariss.

The piece was created using flexible plywood, cut according to a template we’d created. I made two of these, one in blue and one in red, each of which I would test during the shoot.

Props for fashion photography

I often create my own props or accessories for photography.

The lighting consisted of small pockets of light, carefully controlled to highlight specific areas. My key light was a fresnel on the model’s face, but I also used picolites to highlight her left shoulder, the inside of the accessory and the very tip of the accessory. I then also added a small kicker light to add some fill on the on the inside and outside of the accessory and a background light.

Lighting setup for fashion photography.

The lighting setup included a combination of lights, the majority of which were fresnels.

Once I reached a point with my lighting where I was happy, I switched out the blue accessory for the red one, to see if I preferred it. Although it too gave a striking result, I preferred with vibrant contrast of the red and blue.

Fashion photography test images.

A comparison of the red and blue versions of the accessory.

Although the majority of the modifiers were fresnels, a similar result could have been achieved using small snoots with grids.

The final image:

Fashion photography

The final image from the modern fashion fantasy image.

To view more fashion photography lighting setups, take a look at the classes below. I’ve put together some of my favourite classes that will help get you started and provide some ideas.

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.


  1. This was fantastic. So much to take away here. A great example of Karl’s artistic insight in developing the shot. I’ve had some success lately with lighting and models but after this realizing I’m in kindergarten when it comes to complex lighting situations.
    I’m amateur and so I tend to move too quickly in order to relieve what I think is the model’s or assistance’s impatience so I often don’t fulfill my vision of the shot.
    This shoot taught me to push everyone until I get the damn shot! I will.

  2. Wow, I am so excited. I have been waiting for this release for so so long I am glad it is finally here. Such a cool concept, like absolutely brilliant. I love the idea and how minimal it is as well as the great use of pocket lighting and colour. I am wondering, however, why did you choose Karl to have the model and an assistant hold the board instead of clamping them with a few grip arms/magic arms?

    1. Hi Adam, I’m glad you enjoyed the shoot. I think the main reason was that I was unsure as to the initial angle of the board or if subsequent shots would all need alternate angles so I thought it might be more versatile if I could adapt it as we went.

    1. Hi Latesh, this was done with studio flash with fresnel modifiers attached. If by ‘strobes’ you mean ‘speedlites’ then only if you can fit a fresnel type adaptor to them.

  3. Nice craft props ! 🙂
    Are the small flashes before each shot pops for focusing purposes ? From where did they come from?

    1. Hi Quentin, I think you are referring to the stripes of light across the models face, this is momentarily generated by the camera as a focus assist so the camera can focus accurately in low light.

    1. Ben our video editor is telling me this Thursday but I wouldn’t trust him to not to change his mind 😉

      1. Thanks guys ben waiting for this. Karl, I in no way have the budget to re-create this shot with equipment you used here. How would I get close to this look and apply the lessons to be learned therein using cheaper, more available kit to a photographer who is more up and coming?

        1. Hi Anthony you would have to look into ‘fresnel’ attachments for your lighting or speedlights. All of the lighting was using ‘fresnels’ to create small pockets of light. The alternative would be small snoots with grids.

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