Lighting setup for swimwear fashion photography

Everyday is a good day for a swimwear photo session. Even if the daylight is a bit dull.
Swimwear fashion photo session behind the scenes

Photographer Eivind Røhne gives you a great lighting setup for swimwear fashion photography:

A lot of the fashion stuff I do is photographed abroad, especially since Norway is a rather cold place in November when we often do new spring and summer fashion stuff. This is for a magazine I work with, and this time we travelled to Malta. We try to utilize the time as best we can, and shoot constantly during the time we’re there. We manage to get a lot of stuff done rather quickly, and that’s great for a magazine. Time is money. And to do that you have to work as light, easy and fast as you can. So most of the time we use California Sunbounce reflectors and also diffusors.

It was a bit cloudy this early morning, with no direct sunlight on the model. Unfortunately the swimming pool at our hotel wasn’t heated, and even though it may look warm, the water was only about 14 degrees Celsius. And when a model has to do 40 swimsuits in cold water, I try to work as fast and easy as possible. A happy model is a good model!

The hidden sun is behind the model to the right in the picture, as you can see from the glow on the skin. To fill in the front side of the model, I used a California Sunbounce mini (with zebra or half gold color as you could call it) right in front of her. I put it at an angle, resting on my camera bag. The model stood about a meter in front of it, stepping in and out of the pool with 40 swimsuits. The light was metered with a handheld Sekonic, to get an accurate reading of the light falling on the model, without the camera being tricked by the lighter background. At ISO 50 I got f/5 and 1/125 secs, and it was all shot on a medium format digital Hasselblad.

As you can see from the behind-the-scenes picture, the light is actually rather dull with no punch or contrast, but the reflector did an amazing job of giving us beautiful soft light.

Natural light fashion photography

Fashion photography using only natural light
Lighting diagram for fashion photography in natural light

Believe it or not but this stunning fashion photo by Cecilie Harris is shot using 100 percent natural light. Cecilie and the model were under a bridge to avoid direct sunlight and used the reflected light from the right.

Sport portrait lighting setup

Sport portrait of NHL player Peter Forsberg. The sweat is real and the ice is fake.
The reflector behind Peter gives the illusion of ice, in this creative setup by Pontus Höök

This photo by Pontus Höök is taken in a hallway at Colorado Avalanche’s training facilities. Peter Forsberg came right of the rink to Pontus’ makeshift photo studio. The sweat you see is real. 22 exposures later Peter is off to the locker room. The photo is shot using analog film.

This photo was the cover photo of the first edition of the sportmagazine “S”

Jill Greenberg lighting setup and lighting diagram

David Bicho's tribute to Jill Greenberg, using her characteristic lighting setup.
Lighting diagram explaining the Jill Greenberg lighting setup

This image is a pure tribute to the classic crying-images by Jill Greenberg. This is really showing the crisp and contrasty light of the beloved Profoto Giant (the huge umbrella). From the back, I use two strip lights and a hair light on a boom stand to create a “kicker” all around her silhouette. One gridded light on the black background (turns blue when white balancing to get nice skin tones). Just below the model there is a squared silver reflector (I hate round ones!) to give the classic extra lower clam-shellish-spark to the eye to give some feeling of “wet eyes”… To eliminate all unwanted indirect lightning, I used big black book ends to really push the contrast by lowering the levels in the shadows.

Visit photographer David Bicho for more great inspiration.

Glamour lighting with Helene Wiklund

Lusciuos glamour model Helene Wiklund from Sweden
Glamour lighting diagram

If you are into glamour photography and have already tried the golden umbrella thing and similar lighting setups, you can find new inspiration from Magnus Svensson here. The keylight is a large octabox, and then you kick some light from the smaller softboxes at both sides in the background. This gives you a glamour lighting with a slight touch of beauty lighting!

Fashion lighting setup on location

First class fashion photography doesn't necessarily require tons of lighting equipment.
Lighting diagram for fashion photography

This is a lighting setup for fashion photography on location. Using only sunlight and a reflector you can achieve amazing photos . We will soon publish more photos, lighting setups and lighting diagrams from Magnus Svensson. In the meanwhile, check out his portfolio at Maz Studios

Clam shell lighting setup for beauty shots

Beauty shots using the clam shell lighting setup.
Clam shell lighting diagram. Please notice that the softbox and reflector are NOT vertical as the lighting diagram insinuates.

Beauty lighting setups does not have to be difficult. You can easily get professional looking beauty shots using the clam shell lighting setup.

It’s called clam shell simply because you rig two softboxes as a giant gaping clam shell. It’s hard to see in the lighting diagram because of the levitated view. It would have been better illustrated if the lighting diagram was viewed from the side. Anyway, I think you get the idea.

A common setup is to build you’re clam shell with a larger upper softbox and then a lower smaller stripbox. The upper softbox is about one stop higher than the stripbox. Using two softboxes gives you good control of the light.

Simplified clam shell lighting setup

This specific clamshell lighting is simplified a bit. I used one big softbox from above and then a big horizontal silver reflector underneath. This gives you a little less control of the light, compared to using two softboxes, but the setup is about what you want anyway. The softbox will automatically give more light than the silver reflector. You can vary the distance between the soft box and the rector to control the light a bit. You can also try with a white reflector to find a lighting setup that you like.

Travelling light with portable lighting setups

An elegant lighting setup will only take you half the way. You still need a good model pose. Aight?!
Hong Kong based model and actress ShellZ Zhu
Lighting diagram of portable lighting setup

These photos are from a session on location in Hong Kong, featuring ShellZ Zhu. ShellZ Zhu is a fashion model and actress in China, but she has also been seen i a few Hollywood productions.

Portable lighting setup

I didn’t have the possibility to bring my full arsenal of lighting equipment, so I had to find a lighting setup that was easy to travel with. I brought a hot shoe speedlight flash, a shoot through umbrella, a lightweight light stand and the Elinchrom Skyport radio trigger. The shoot through umbrella was actually a multifunction umbrella with one shoot through layer and one removable silverlayer that you can bounce the light in when needed, but for this photo session I used it only as a shoot through umbrella.

It was a bit cloudy that day so the daylight was soft and had no specific direction. I placed the umbrella in front of ShellZ Zhu about 45 degrees to the left. For the photo with the “catwoman stance”, the lighting setup was moved so the lighting direction came a bit closer to the camera direction. Since the models pose i lower, the light gets relatively more from above.