Portrait Beauty Lighting With One Light

Add a touch of beauty to your portraits – no extra lights needed.

This portrait photography class follows closely from the previous chapter, where Karl demonstrated how to achieve a bold but soft effect, ideal for fashion or catalogue shots.

In this chapter, he builds on this, showing you how to modify the setup for more beauty-style images. Starting with just a simple modifier on a single light, Karl reveals the all-important accessory needed to bring this image to life and create a more flattering light.

To show the importance of this accessory, he shows clear comparisons with and without it and how it can elevate and enhance the original fashion-style image to the eye-catching beauty images that are the final results.

In this class:

  • Beauty photography using a single light
  • Lighting setups for beauty photography
  • How to soften shadows for stunning beauty images
  • Lighting setup modifications and the effect
  • Visual comparisons between different reflectors


  1. Hi Karl
    Your models are beautiful and your lighting and photography enhances it but in reality not all are like that. For example how I can show a chubby face a little in triangle shape with lighting? Is it possible?
    My second question is: Do you recommend silver reflector on darker skin?
    I am so happy to share I got verbal confirmation of position I attended for an interview. I will activate my subscription once I got my offer letter.- I just wanted to share good news 🙂
    Would you please give some tips on photographing a bit chubby faces?

  2. Hi karl!, can i get similar result if i use a normal reflector with the plate side?

      1. i reffer to a plate side with the 5 in 1 reflector.

  3. Hi Karl,

    Loving the content here. I’m learning a lot as I go through the courses.
    I was looking online for a Lastolite Triflector and I saw the mkII one in two options: gold/silver and white/silver.

    Which one do you recommend as the better one from your experience?
    Have a great day!

  4. Hi Karl

    Absolutely gorgeous shots…. I am wondering would you do any type of post-production work on these since these are perfect right off the bat…..


  5. johnleigh

    hi Karl this is fabulous stuff really helpful guidance.
    I note your modern tethered approach with trial and test of light positions, angles, power, reflectors and seeing the images on large screen and then adjusting the lights and reflectors bit by bit – Im aware some photographers and trainers frown on this way of working and seem intent on promoting light meters so you can “appear more professional” to clients and models. However in my limited experience I think it takes no longer in time to work how you do.
    Im a speedlight studio anywhere fan due to space,weight, travel and budget reasons and do not use a light meter, instead I explain to the models my first shots are tests all about getting the lights right in power and placement for their face shape/skin – so far Ive not had any complaints or negative comments, though without any modelling lights its a bit more trial and error as I get more experienced – wonder if you might have any comments!

    1. Hi John, As you know I agree there is no need for a light meter, see chapter 6 in the portrait section for my full explanation.

      1. Hey Karl.
        I haven’t finished the video yet, So maybe there’s the answer inside. I’ll ask anyway: In the business portraits workshop, You explain too many photographers put their softboxes too far. As a result, I started locating the 90cm Octabox) really really close to their faces, But it requires me to find a solution for the edge of the softbox “popping out” in the photo, Not to mention the angle from above is problematic when it’s so close (The close I work, The higher I need it for 45 degrees). Is the distance shown in the video close enough in your standards? Looks a bit more convenient to work with…

        1. Hi Sharon, yes it’s always a case as close as possible without it impeding the shot which is why bigger softboxes are more versatile as you can afford for them to be a little further away.

          1. Great, Thanks Karl. I felt it was a bit too close when I started to see myself spending too much time on Photoshop trying to clone it out. And then watching your Photoshop course again to find tips on that. Something I can solve with placing the softbox a bit farther 🙂

  6. Thanks again, Karl, I feel illuminated already 🙂 Also, your tutorial was very intuitive, at one moment I was going to ask about the f/5.6 aperture, but you covered it in a couple of minutes, then I was going to ask about switching the tri-board with a single board, you covered it in a minute, then I was shouting “put a clamp on that thing”, and you also did. Love your work!

  7. Simple yet very educational, ideal one light set up for my small garage studio, I just made myself a tri reflector ..!!
    Thank’s Karl.

  8. Hi Karl,
    I found that your shooting angle is a little bit higher than model eye from video. Is that your recommended angle or just mis-understanding because the video?

    1. Hi Ryo, I often shoot eye level or just above. The only time I shoot lower is if I’m looking to create a more imposing image usually in a wide angle lens shot with a model and landscape to make the model look more imposing in the landscape. In the studio though generally eye level or above i find most flattering.

  9. Hi Karl,

    I have one more question . For doing beauty portraits does model need heavy makeup?
    With basic makeup can we get good results?

    Best Regards,

    1. Hi Pradeep, I wouldn’t say heavy make up but more good quality make up that has been applied well. A professional make up artist can make a big difference to the final result. That can be a natural look or more glamorous but it is the application standard that is important.

  10. Your models are all great( as is your whole crew) I enjoyed watching Deborah smiles enjoying herself. Thanks Karl I actually ordered this tri-reflector and forgot to ask before I did so if you offer discounts to members through your site?? Merde

    Stevie 🙂

  11. HI KARL

    1. Hi Sastri, yes that would give a similar result, but each modifier has slightly different qualities. It is always best to try them and become familiar with their capabilities. Chapter 7 of Light Source in the portrait section will help you immensely with modifiers and their affects.

  12. Can we use regular reflector instead of trireflector
    Or 3 speedlights in softbox in form of a triangle one from top and 2 inclined on both sides and model is framed inside the triangle, I mean softboxes are feathered will that work?

    1. Hi Pradeep, with a regular reflector you will only get the reflected light to go under the chin in this set up. What you can do very easily though is get some stiff pieces of card and cover with baking foil and support on lighting stands to make a DIY tri-reflector but to be honest I would just purchase one as they are much easier to use. Yes theoretically you could use speedlites in 3 small to medium softboxes below but again this is a lot of work in constantly having to change and adjust the power and position. A tri-reflector is by far the most effective and simplest solution, you only need to angle the reflector or change the height to adjust intensity of the fill light.

  13. Hey Karl, is it possible for you to give a side by side comparision of beauty light vs fashion light vs glamour light at some point? You mentioned both fashion and glamour but I don’t truly feel like I have a concrete sense of the differences. I think this might be helpful to others as well, so maybe you can address it in a vlog if you have a bit of free time. Thanks!

    1. Hi Anthony you may have noticed in our ‘New Courses Coming Soon’ section that we have scheduled a number of new fashion lighting modules, I will be covering more on this topic when those are published. Thanks Karl.

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