Contoured Beauty Lighting

Want to capture perfect portraits with a beauty twist? This class shows you how.

This unique lighting setup requires patience and precise control. Together Karl Taylor and Urs Recher show you exactly how to achieve the stunning, contoured beauty image below.

As the pair continue to demonstrate a number of creative three-light setups for portrait photography, Urs explains why symmetry is a key element to this setup. Using just two small modifiers and a background light, this setup is well suited to a small studio space.

In this class:

  • Studio Lighting: How to set up multiple studio lights
  • Three light setup for portrait photography
  • How to prevent lens flare in studio photography
  • How to use reflectors for portrait photography
  • Working with reflectors and flags
  • Photographing in a small studio

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.


  1. Hi Karl

    Please let me know if the finished images at the end of your video have been edited in Photoshop or Lightroom? Or is it the original image after you took it

    Thank you .

    1. Hi Lena, in this video no they haven’t as Urs doesn’t often retouch his images. In some of our tutorials they are and we often include classes on the retouching too.

  2. derrick_connell


    This was an amazing module. Your educational process is very good and an amazing resource for budding photographer. There is so much in here.

    I had a moment of pause as I listened to Urs – could I replicate his level of precision? I will try. I was heartened when I saw you simply position the overhead reflector a few cm’s back. It is about experimentation and expediency. Thanks for that moment.

    Secondly, I wondered about how to work with models. Evie did a wonderful job – she is another human and had to sit there and hear about her nose profile. She was amazing. I would love to hear how you work with models, hire them, motivate them and get the best shots. You have a natural ability to get the best from models – I’d love a module on your experience working with models (and if there is one – can you share the link).

    And if I forgot to mention it. You are amazing, this course is amazing and I can’t wait to try out this technique. I have doubts on my level of precision but fearless I will go.


    1. She is and also such a lovely soul too. We are working with her again on a new conceptual piece that will be published later in the year.

    2. Someday, someone is going to walk by a 95 year-old Evie and say, “Damn! That is a lovely 95 year-old!”

  3. that 7:07 moment when you guys are talking about the light on the model nose and she immediately put the hand on her face to check.. is priceless! :))
    so so good!

  4. Maybe I missed something in the other tutorials but were all the background strobes just using the modelling lamp light or wire they fired to get the exposure? Some of the other 2 & 3 light videos had quite a bright modelling lamp the background so wasn’t sure the modelling lamp provided the light or the strobe was fired.

    1. Hi Chris, if we have the lamp switched on then we will always be using the flash at the time of exposure. We never use the modelling lamps mixed with flash as the colour is very different.

  5. Hi Karl!
    Since I joined your site this week, I am loving life. You have inspired me and believe that I can produce decent, solid images with your guidance.
    I have two questions.
    1) Is it possible to use the 30×120 softboxes rather than the 35×60 softboxes in this tutorial?
    2) Also, is there a scientific equation to determine the size of the hole in your mask? I don’t think you mentioned how to figure this part out. I know I saw you and Urs do this in another tutorial.
    I have a full frame Sony A7III. I hope that didn’t upset you.
    Thx again and I am looking forward to practicing your techniques!

    1. Hi William, yes I believe those softboxes will work. As for the size of the mask you simply work out the ratio of your camera format (the sensor size) so for example if your sensor is 36mm x 24mm then you could say multiply each dimension by say 7 and you would end up with a size of 252mm x 168mm and then you cut your hole to that size. But it’s very important to know the exact size of your sensor to begin with of course.

  6. hi your using always a passe-partout ( black with oening) are you using always the sme ? if yes what are the sizes of it ( just about)

    1. Hi Harm, no not always only if there is very strong backlighting coming into the camera (and this will also depend on the focal length) I’d guess the size of the hole is about 20-25cm but you must make it the same format (shape) as your camera format/sensor.

  7. What OTHER modifier do you think I can use instead of these two softboxes? I don’t have them.
    Closest I have is two Strip boxes, Profoto 1×3 size… but they are 1×3 so not as wide as these softboxes… Maybe use them horizontally ?

    1. Hi Babak, using them horizontally would not work, please watch chapter 1 to understand why. The other option would be to put your two softboxes side by side. My concern though is that at this stage based on your question you haven’t fully understood some of the fundamental principles of studio lighting that are very important and covered in chapters 1 to 15.

  8. Excellent! Even if I did not know that the Urs is Swiss, I would have realized it after this tutorial. He is so precise 🙂

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