Pop Fashion Shoot

Make your pictures pop with these techniques.

Parabolic reflectors are a popular choice of lighting modifier for fashion photography. In this photography class, Karl Taylor utilizes a simple yet effective three light setup to achieve this punchy final image.

You’ll be able to follow each step of the shoot, from set creation to outfit selection and lighting tests. To end the class, Karl reviews the final image, clearly explaining the effect of each light and how this setup can be used for a multitude of different shoots.

This class forms part of our fashion week course, where Karl teamed up with model Kariss Craig, professional fashion stylist Bianca Swan and makeup artist and hair stylist Shanine Levrier for an intensive week of filming high-end fashion photography.

In this fashion photography class:

  • Fashion photography: Three light studio setup
  • Creative lighting setups for fashion photography
  • Set creation
  • Outfit selection
  • Posing your model
  • Lighting modifiers for fashion photography
  • How to use Parabolic reflectors for fashion photography
  • How to create an edge light effect

To see how to use this lighting setup on location, watch our Alien Worlds Fashion Shoot. You can also read more about Parabolic reflectors in our blog The Magic of Parabolic Lighting.

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.


  1. Gary Stasiuk

    Around 18:00 .. you are talking specifics about the lighting distribution.. the front para versus the ones lighting the edge. No question on the quality of the light from the para 222, but concerning the para 88s for the edge light.. is there a difference to the quality of the lights hitting the edge that makes a noticeable difference .. than say some form of using a strip box (edge on for harshness)? Is it a crispness issue?

    1. Hi Gary, this is an interesting question because I have tested this in the past and the results vary depending on the textiles the model is wearing. For example with bare skin with a two P70’s you get a nice edge light but with a couple of specular ‘hot spots’. If you use a tall strip box then you get a smoother more even light down the neck and arms which can look great but not as good for textiles as it has less three dimensionality. Para 88’s always work well for me as they are like a large p70 but with less of a central hot spot and still give me the ‘bite’ but also wrap a little more around (because of size) than a P70. Another good example of the two 88s edge lighting is this one: https://visualeducation.com/class/alien-worlds-fashion-shoot/ but if you were only choosing between two P70’s or a stripbox then I would go for the P70s if it was textiles, bite, fashion style. But stripboxes work well for a more even smooth light. The differences here would be small but the p70s or 88’s are going to be more sculpting. Next fashion shoot I’ll do a comparison.

  2. Hi Karl, great video! Just had a question regarding your choice of two para 88, was it used cause you wanted to illuminate the model and the background? Cause, I was hoping we could use a strip box of reasonable size instead of the para? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi, no they weren’t used at all for the background, in fact they would put less light on the background than a strip box because the light from the paras is more directional. The reason I used them is because they offer a more focused beam of light that reveals texture in clothes nicely which is why they are often used in fashion photography.

  3. Thank you for the course, Karl!

    I know the lighting would be different if big softbox is used for the back instead of Para’s 88. But how much? What modifier would be the closest to the Para’s?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi, it would depend on the size and the distance but the light would still work it would just have less 3 dimensionality on the texture and shapes of your subject but it will still give you a good edge light, however as it is not directional some of it will spread on to your background if you don’t flag it or use a grid.

  4. Good refresher course if I have to book a model for a Fashion Jewelry shoot or lifestyle to update my social media. If I work for someone else part-time, good skills in marketing on social media or in-store merchandising.

    1. Hello, It would most likely have been 100iso at f11. But and this is a big BUT if you are asking this type of question (especially the shutter speed in relation to the flash) then I’m afraid at this stage you’re not going to be able to properly undertake a shoot like this. As an instructor it’s very obvious to me based on the questions what people’s level of understanding of photography actually is. I highly recommend that you watch the first 15 chapters starting with number 1 here before you move on, this will at least give you the grounding you need – https://visualeducation.com/section/lighting-theory-and-equipment/

  5. Love it! Loving the classes so far. I may have missed a mention of it but I’m wondering where you can find blocks like the ones featured in this shoot. Are they built or purchased? They seem so versatile but I haven’t been able to find resources on them. Thank ya kindly!

    1. Hi Richard, they are built out of MDF with a peice in the middle inside to strengthen them. Anyone who is good at DIY could make these and usually your timber yard can cut the MDF to size for you.

    1. I was surprised to see you paint your studio background and the floor. I thought the idea was to keep it white. Do you paint it white when done? 😮

      1. Hi, We paint it regularly and often in different colours, it’s been blue, red, grey and greenscreen before for video. Then it get’s painted back to white.

    1. Hi John, we paint over it. It usually takes two or three coats of white depending on the intensity of the colour we laid down, in this case the blue was a very strong colour so needed 3 coats of white. The cove gets painted different colours all the time for different shoots. I’ve also got a mobile wall background that’s smaller but gets painted more often.

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