Bright and Punchy Fashion

Want to freshen up your portrait and fashion photography? Karl’s got some bright ideas…

This studio lighting tutorial is all about achieving a fresh, vibrant and eye-catching final result. Using four studio lights, Karl shows you how to achieve this stunning result, which is ideal for catalogue and fashion images (or even just an interesting portrait).

Opting to incorporate some movement into this set, Karl explains how to freeze movement with studio flash and the importance of flash duration when it comes to effectively capturing movement.

The final image is shot using four lights, but Karl also shows you how this can easily be simplified to an effective three-light setup.

In this class:

  • Studio photography: How to shoot portrait images
  • How to shoot creative portraiture using four lights
  • Studio lighting setups for catalogue shots
  • Studio lighting setups for full length photos
  • Flash duration: How to freeze movement with studio flash

If you enjoy this class, you may find it helpful to watch Understanding Flash Duration.

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.


    1. Hi, I haven’t the results on a small to medium one would be similar to a hard beauty dish. I’d like to try a really big one as that would give an interesting light but it would have to be in excess of 1.5m diameter.

  1. Hi karl, In front part of lighting what is the purpose of those two side lights are they working as a main lights, fill lights or any other purpose,
    can you explain the idea/ purpose behind the three front lights.

    Thank you

    1. Hi Siddhesh, the three umbrellas provide a broader wrap around lighting that is less soft than one large softbox which would be too flat for this type of ‘energy’ fashion shot. Three silver umbrellas give me more punch and are effectively working together as one bigger light but with more punch than a large flat light.

  2. Gary Stasiuk

    Hey Karl, was wondering why the back top rim light was set so subtle.. you didn’t play with the power other than to use or not.. would it compete with the front lights if it became brighter?

    And I read the other questions.. about stopping motion: With water splash to create crispness you need something like 1500th or even 3000th of a second. Is it the same with a person? I have a very old flash system.. ancient. I know it is too slow for water and I use speedlights, but I will have to give this scenario a go, but do I need much the same speed to stop a person?

    1. Hi Gary, I have no answer for the top rim light other than I must have looked at the shot and liked how it looked and decided that that was enough! With regards flash duration, essentially yes it’s the same for models but how low you can get away with is due to other factors such as magnification and relative movement of subject in the frame, for example with splash shots we’re often very close and in a small area in the frame so motion of the same speed will seem faster due to magnification and then the reverse is true for models jumping in many cases. Often a little bit of motion blur on models movement is acceptable on the hands and feet etc though. The only way to find out it to run some tests on someone or yourself to see if your flash speed is sufficient.

  3. Really like this lighting setup and the resulting images! Do you recall approximately how far from the background the model was standing?

  4. Karl, I notice you own a lot of lighting equipment. What do you recommend be the minimum lighting to start as a photographer. I know that’s hard to answer because it depends on the type of work and other factors. But, if you needed to start at a bear minimum what would be your approach to this? Thanks for all these excellent videos.

    1. Hi Paulo, I could do a lot with 3 lights but I’d say 5 would be the minimum to cover nearly all scenarios.

      1. In order to save on start up costs, would it be wise to choose the broncolor Siros 800 S. If I’m correct the S is one stop less compared to the L series, but my thinking is lightroom can compensate for that one stop difference. Also, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, appreciate your insight.

      2. Hi @Karl
        I would like to get 5 Siros, can i get your idea about these setups ; which one do you prefer ?

        3 x Siros 800s and 2 x Siros 400s
        4 x Siros 800s and 1 x Siros 400s
        5 x Siros 800s


        1. Hi Zee, it depends on your budget. If you can afford it easily then go for 5x 800s but you will probably find you don’t need all of that power all of the time so it is up to you and your budget. A 400 light is one stop less powerful than an 800 light which is the same as changing from 100 to 200 ISO to compensate.

  5. Hi Karl! I wonder how same setup would work on a small studio 6mt wide X 10mt length X 3mt height! If I would cover everything around, including ceiling, with black velvet cloth?

    1. Hi Yannis, If you have everything covered in black cloth on all the walls and ceilings then you will have the ultimate light control but it may not be necessary.

  6. So, I am a bit unsure how do you get the picture sharp when she is moving around so much ? did you go into manual mode after getting the first shot? or do you choose to Servo?
    I use the same 1.2 85mm lense the first one and it dosnt seem that fast at all 🙂

    am I missing something.

    1. Hi I’ve prefocused manually to the point where she’s going to be jumping. I’m also shooting with a small enough aperture that I have sufficient depth of field. In this instance the shutter speed isn’t important as the flash is freezing the model.

  7. Karl, regarding the picture format. Since she’s moving, do you choose a classic format (5×7 aso) or what suits the best?

  8. Hi Karl! I love this style of lighting! Really punchy as you demonstrated. would this also work with one huge silver umbrella instead of 3? would i get the same results or similar?

    1. Hi Sarah, I don’t think you’d find a big enough umbrella to be honest and if you went to a large parabolic like the Para222 then the light is spectacular but it would become an expensive alternative to umbrellas.

  9. Hey Carl,
    first of all thank you for all your work and your awesome education program here!

    I tried pretty much the same setting today for a underwear shoot and I just was not able to get the jumping lady sharp, even with same camera settings as you, but on a Sony 7rII with a 24-70 GM 2.8, ISO 100, 1/160 (flash sync failed at 1/200 and above of course), f4.0 – f11 (tried several), white backdrop, multiblitz studio flash with one 1×1,2m softbox front, one round flash for background and one small softbox for hairlight on 5.0 – 8.0 (tried a lot).

    Do you have any idea what could have been wrong?

    Greetz from Germany, Simon

    1. Hi Simon, if your exposure was correct and your focus was correct and also if you checked that no ambient light was being recorded then the only remaining thing it can be is that your flash duration speed is too slow. Please see the chapter on Flash Duration (module 4 in this section).

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