Any actually good fashion studio lighting tutorials?

Discussion in 'Portraits and Fashion' started by pawel_baranski, Jan 3, 2018.

  1. Hello!
    Sooo there are lots of YouTube tutorials on studio lighting. However, most of them are crap :D
    and it's difficult to find videos featuring lighting setups capable of creating something that looks like actual high end fashion photography, and not some cheap lookbook for internet Store.
    Two actually usefully videos I have found are those:

    I just started working in studio. I shoot my first studio editorial, and it turned out pretty decent, but aesthetically it was not the style I'm after. And I don't know yet how to achieve what I want. And I would probably learn that sooner or later, on my own mistakes, but renting a studio is costy and it would be great to know certain lighting setups as a point of reference I could begin with.
    I have some upcoming paid lookbooks in studio too. And I don't really know what I am doing yet and I need to learn that quick.
    And yes, I read strobist, there was some useful info, but it's all extremely basic.
    I keep browsing YouTube videos, but it's difficult finding something worthwhile.
    So, good people of interested in fashion photography, do you have any videos, or channels, you would recommend for me?
  2. I'm always amazed by these type of questions, basically claiming that 'the perfect' technical solution', either 'the best camera' or the best lens' or in this case 'the best studio lighting', is the instant solution to creat a (great) fashion picture

    A (great) fashion picture is first and foremost the result of a (great) concept/idea, classic or non conformist, a photographer with a mind creative enough to translate that concept in a captivating image, and last but definitely not least a team of stylists, MUA/hairstylists and models.

    The camera is just a tool used to capture that image when the photographer pushes the release button, the lens the optical means specifically chosen by the photographer to render the image the way he has in his head, and the lighting similarly chosen by the photographer to suit/help create the image he has in mind

    Rather then trying to find the perfect website/video/utorial on how supposedly to set up that kind of lighting (after all, you know the saying 'those who can't, teach - or nowadays 'have a site with tutorials or videos on the subject ' - and those who can do'), I would rather recommend to start reading/collecting magazines with fashion pictures with all kind of different types of lighting

    Yes, actual (boring :( )books and magazines, not a collection of images plucked from Pininterest or whatever site on the net etc
    So you can hold thpse pictures in your hands, see them in a larger size then on the screen of your phone, and study them more extensively then just flipping from one to the other in a folder on your computer.
    And if you really want a book on lighting, just get a classic, again probably boring one.

    Way back when I made my first tentative steps into 'serious' photography, the rage was the Time-Life series of books on photography
    Beautifully edited books, great images, and true gems for the coffeetable
    But the actual info in them actually was quite superficial and in fact really dissapointing, decribing the subjects discussed in beautiful prose and illustrated with amazing images of well known famous photographers
    But essentially lacking any specific real practical info that could was actually usefull for an (ambitious) beginner to help make any further steps into photography in a real world, working situation
    Basically much like all those 'now it all' websites and tutorials from wannabe 'know it all's (like you mention) you nowadays, based on clicks and the logarithms of your seac=rch machine, rather then an evaluation of actual level of real knowledge, inevitably run into when you do a search on the internet

    Admittedly being older, back when I started to get some interest in the subject, it was despite the lack of internet and absence of Google easier to, admittedly even nevertheless with some effort, find books to get some insight into fashion photography, and lighting
    My first brake was finding copies of Nancy Duncan's 'The history of Fashion {hotography' a,d Polly Devlin's 'Vogue Book of Fashion Photography', later followed by the purchase of "shots of Style' the book the V&A in London issued in corporation with David Bailey on he occasion of the exhibit of the same name.
    Not much theory on how to make the pictures shown, but all books giving a wide view on the many different styles of (studio) photography (and types of lighting used) basically ever since the biginning of fashion photography since the early 1900's
    In that period Fransesco Scavullo also wrote his 'Scavullo on Beauty' and "Scavullo on Women' books, highly acclaimed at that time, again little 'how to' info, but shot in a deceivingly easy technical way that 'invited' to try and emulate that (at which I miserably failed)

    As one would, one would select the ones one liked and tried to, in a very amateur way and on a very basic level, to somehow imitate them.
    Nowadays people no longer are willing to experiment and fail, but rather ask on the internet 'how do I do this' to then expect to immediately get the desired result
    But in that failure lies the real knowledge to be found, and do the real questions arise, and can the real useful info be found

    So in my case, I started trying to analyze the lighting set up in the images I liked (by looking at the shadows, and the catchlights in the eyes of the models)
    and comparing my guesses with the very practical info in a very boring, by the time I bought my copy already old (40+ years) book on lighting I had found
    'Lighting for Portraiture' by Fred Nurnberg.

    Very boring and oldfashioned, unlike modern tutorials and videos no glamorous scantely dressed models, no slick product pushing moderators
    But instead a lot of theory and detailed technical info on different how to get a certain (lighting) look, illustrated with images shot with the actual set ups decribed, with detailed diagrams of the position and height of the lights, shadows created etc
    Not a 'how to' giving the illusion 'follow this precooked example and you're sure to succeed' but a lot of study material to work with/try to imitate and really learn sometning on the way
    With that 'knowledge' (and experience gathered from experimenting with it) in the back of my mind it was much easier to more or less understand/see through the shared 'wisdom described by photographers loke David Bailey, Artur Elgort, Horst P Horst and Chris von Wangenheim in 'Fashion: theory' by Caol Di Grappa for Lustrum Press

    And haven't stopped learning since, even nearly 40 years on I again and again still run into images I think "how did they do that?!'
    But rather then trying to find my answers on the internet ready to go like a hamburger from a fastfood restaurant, I study the image/lighting I'm interested in, try to find out tthe 'ingredients' (admittedly helped by some years of experience) and try, and don't shy away from failing, again and again till I get something I'm satisfied with even if it's not the perfect imitation

    So my recommendation, rather then trying to find yiur 'answers' on the internet, buy books and magazines, and practice and fail, and try again
  3. You cannot watch a YouTube video and instantly become an expert.

    There are a lot of books on this subject, you just need to find them.
    Studying books is a lot harder than watching a YouTube video, but oh well.

    You will only get better with LOTS and LOTS of practice, making mistakes, and critical critique.

    If you don't want to rent a studio. Yes $$$ expensive.
    Then get some shoe flashes and slaves (see "strobist") or low end studio lights and practice at home. You cannot do everything that you can in a fully equipted studio, but you can learn a lot.
  4. All your advice is corrent, and i agree with most if it, however it's not every helpful for me because i know all of that already :p

    and i do shoot a lot
    and i do watch lots of magazines and fashion photography in general, i basically browsed through work of every photographer from a major talent agency
    and i really realize that great picture if result of many things, and lighting is only one of them, but this one certain aspect is what i feel needs the upgrade right now

    and i think there is nothing wrong about failing in general, but when I'm either getting paid for my job, or if there's whole creative team involved,
    this is when i cannot fail.

    And while i realize that practice is the most important ingredient of progress, i also think it may be accompanied by learning stuff from the internet and youtube.

    This is my fashion portfolio, if anyone wonders -
  5. You cannot fail on a paid gig, so practice and fail when it does not matter.
  6. Youtube: I think Joe Edelman gives some valuable lighting and studio lessons? - Search through his channel for "remember the egg" and "inverse square law" + other interesting sounding short videos.
    It seems possible to find something valuable on Adorama TV or to fish more than product pushing out of Westcott Lighting's stuff.
    Not sure what to think about entering a rented studio without any previous practice.
    In doubt I'd get a dummy, scale my planned setup down and practice at home.
    I do understand that one part of contemporary fashion photography is gear heavy; i.e. to keep clicking away you can't light with venerable hotshoe flashes set to full power, so substituting them with rentals makes sense. Nonetheless it should be possible to generate mock ups of your desired looks at home, i.e. light placement and ratios, a general idea of your concept. Mix light sources, sod color balance, shoot in B&W either at insane ISO or from a tripod, maybe even scale down, but get your concept together before you enter a studio.
  7. In terms of lighting equipment, I suggest Godox/Flashpoint. I am currently using their XPLOR-600, then a large enough light modifier you can manage. I agree with others that practice the diff. lighting would be the key. Otherwise, I think there are way too many variable. Model selection, facial expression, color b&w, make up, clothing, etc...! Then the lighting to create the mood.

    Last edited: Jan 4, 2018

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