Dramatic Portraits

Bring the drama with these simple lighting tricks.

In this two-light portrait photography class, Karl uses two different modifiers as his key light, demonstrating how they can be combined with a simple accessory to achieve this punchy, dramatic fashion-style image. He also reviews the results of each, providing clear comparisons of the various modifiers.

In this class:

  • Studio Lighting: How to set up multiple studio lights
  • Two light setup for fashion photography
  • How to use a beauty dish
  • Lighting modifiers and their effects
  • Beauty Dish vs Beauty Box

For more in-depth tutorials on how to use a beauty dish, make sure to watch our live show “Mastering the Beauty Dish” and read our blog post “Lighting Modifiers: The Beauty Dish“.

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.


  1. Gary Stasiuk

    Karl.. your fashion shoots.. in regards to an overall content type, mostly deal with women. It is certainly very interesting watching the models running through poses, their confidence playing with mannerisms and acting/performing. It would be interesting to see a session with a confident male model. I often do sessions with my 20 something sons, who are not models. I am working with them and directing them. The one element I noticed is some poses seem right and are more masculine, even if the expression is sensitive and vulnerable. I don’t think the lighting would change much but I’m curious how you would use the light to bring out the best in the model. Just curious if your approach changes much.

    1. Hi Gary, the only thing that I notice with lighting male models compared to female models is that I can be a little more aggressive with the lighting and the angles of the light as I’m not looking for ‘beauty’ as often. Much of the time with male models you are looking for mood, character or a chiseled look. However in saying that very good female models can also be lit in ways you wouldn’t consider lighting a normal person. Often the biggest part of succesful results from a model comes down to how much confidence they ooze in front of the camera.

  2. I’m a little confused as to why the beauty dish is placed at a distanced position to the model, I thought the basic rule is “the closer the light the softer result it produces” the beauty dish isn’t close yet it’s producing a soft light on the model

    1. Hi, the beauty dish in this instance is only about 1 to 1.5m away from the model. The light isn’t actually that soft, it’s more flattering because it is directly to the front of the model so less shadow is visible because of the direction of the light and the white reflector filling in the shadow density. The distance of the beauty dish looks further than it is as the cameraman is mostly behind me but if he had filmed from the side it would be clearer that it wasn’t as far as it looks. We now try to film from all angles in our other classes.

Leave a Comment