Projection Spotlight Beauty Shoot

When Karl begins this beauty shoot, he’s not sure what lights he’s going to use. Watch him experiment with different setups and settings, and learn how to achieve the perfect harsh light and hard shadows.

Beginning with a Godox studio light before moving on to a Broncolor Picolite, he uses projection attachments to create a hard spotlit look. Getting the exposure right requires careful, methodical adjustments to aperture and ISO, as well as to the power of the key and background lights.

As model Suzanne tries out various outfits and poses, Karl keeps tweaking his setup. His detailed explanation of the final five-light setup will give you a clear understanding of the thinking behind his creative process.

For step-by-step demonstrations of the retouching and editing techniques Karl used to produce the two stunning final images, check out Projection Spotlight Beauty | Post-Production (Part 1) and Projection Spotlight Beauty | Post-Production (Part 2).

In this class:

  • Lighting setups for beauty photography
  • Lighting setups for fashion photography
  • How to use a projection attachment modifier
  • Creating harsh light and hard shadows
  • Studio lighting techniques

Questions? Please post them below.


  1. Hi Karl, amazing WS as usual.
    One question I’ve always asked my self (as I’m not really into fashion shooting yet). Inb the very beginning of the video, you had your very first two shots dark and it was pretty clear…you had your third one still with same setup, (around min 3.44) and you said quite aggressive, but still not bright enough. Now, what are we looking within a fashon shoot in general? A super high key image? (Again generally speaking). Are we trying to cancel possible skin imperfections with a super high key image? It would be great if you could enlight me on this…thanks a lot!

    1. Hi Luca, thank you. I’m not quite sure what you mean? The shot at 3.44 is just a test shot so I’m not completely interested in having the correct exposure at this point as I’m just testing the look of the lighting and it’s direction etc. By 6:38 I’ve changed a couple of things and I’m now working with a brighter exposure but still only testing my ideas and balance of light. In the final 2 shots from this shoot, that are lower down the page you will see they are both in the ‘high key’ end on the models face but this isn’t normal for me as I often shoot beauty images at more of a skin tone exposure, it’s just that in these shots and with the makeup style that the make up artist went with then it had more of a high key look. You will see in the associated post production class that even with the high key look there is still significant skin retouching because of the hard light. Also if you check out this blog post you can view the work of some of my favourite beauty photographers and assess some of the styles they create:

      1. Hi Karl,
        thanks a lot for your reply, and I do apologize If I wasn’t clear enough. Your answer is super clear. Thing is that though I’m not a fashion photographer, this sector always made me curious. I see that usually, if I’m not mistaken the kind of light you guys try to use here (in general for fashion) is hard, with lots of contrast etc. As you said this is not always your preferred style, but in general I had the feeling that for fashion the “hard light”, beauty dish style is the leading line 🙂 and I was wondering if there is a particular reason for this or if it’s just a personal preference or maybe it is just following a script for the client.

        Sorry again if I wasn’t clear and again congrats for the amazing contents you guys keep putting online. You are such an incredible source of inspiration!

        1. Hi Luca, OK I understand. There are a few of reasons that harder light is often used for fashion:
          1. The models are beautiful so can be photographed with much harder light than ordinary people and still look good
          2. Fabrics/clothes reveal much better contrast and texture with hard light
          3. Hard light always looks a bit more dynamic and edgy which often suits the fashion and beauty style of images
          4. Colour pops more with hard light as there is less direct reflections that would wash colour out

          Cheers Karl.

          1. Thanks a lot for your reply Karl,
            Keep it up!

  2. You make it look so easy Karl, another great tutorial and very inspiring. Makes me want to go straight to the studio.

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