Lighting Tutorial: Lighting a Diva

Note: In this image a second flag was added, to block the flare of the right accent light.

This shoot was a long one – we did 6 completely different looks! The moment Veronica slipped into this gown (provided by Karima Renee for TheSkinnyMinority Image Consulting) and Tatiana worked her makeup magic, she instantly became a diva worthy of a Guinness World Reord. After she threw a couple cell phones at some poor passersby and we had provided her with the 5,897 pitted cherries imported from Australia, she decided to grace us with her presence on set for exactly 4 minutes. Here’s what I got in that sliver of time. (If I never have to see another cherry again in my life it’ll be too soon…) 

For this dramatic movie-star lighting, I used a very simple 3-light set-up against a black seamless. The main light here is a large beauty dish, set up high to the left of me at a 60-degree angle, creating the shadows under the model’s chin and curves. There is an accent light behind the model on the left at half-power with a light-blue gel to add a faint, moon-like glow and some separation. This light was flagged off from the background in order to prevent any spilling onto the black. The second accent light with the orange gel on the right is set up at the same height as the first, but is closer to the model, almost standing on the seamless. It is also set at full power. This light was not flagged, in order to create the brilliant flare that washes over her. If you look closely at the very bottom of the frame, you will notice a reflection; the model is standing on a sheet of black plexiglass. This may seem superfluous here, but in a large-scale print of this image, this simple element can add a polished touch. Here is a bird’s eye flat of what this set-up looked like, for all you visual people:

Please excuse my elementary Illustrator skills. I didn’t have a Wacom tablet handy. Then you would’ve been able to marvel at my elementary drawing skills instead. :-/

I hope this post was helpful, informative, or atleast entertaining! If you have any questions or comments, by all means don’t keep them to yourself! Share them down below in the comment section or email them to me directly at

Also, if there are any studio lighting setups that you’d like to me to recreate, or any from my website that you’d like an explanation of, let me know! I’m up for the challenge and here to help!!


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