Lighting , a classic example of beauty lighting by Neil Snape

One of my timeless classics that stays that way due to the simplicity in light.

It is a large Octa from above centre but not extremely high maybe 30º. It is also turned down, and towards the camera. It is quite close , the only way to keep the shadow under the neck. Too many pictures are lit with way too much light on the neck, or half way which is generally worse.You can see this as the light on the charcoal grey background has it’s ritual dark on light , light on dark. Also the light on the close edge of the back of Martha is partially graduated , a sure sign of the light being turned towards the camera. I also use black cinefoil to shade if it is still too bright. Sometimes it’s best to leave the light close and have a hot edge (too much light) and shade that with gobos, cinefoil etc so you maintain that special light graduation which makes the volume interesting.

Next there is a second light , a small strip light called a LightBar 60 with barn doors. It is  at camera lens height redirecting some of the light back in the eyes and the upper lip. It was very close to the girl and below pointing up. It is quite visible in the close up screen capture. I usually close the barn doors enough so that it doesn’t kill the under chin shadow, yet lights the lips and eye lides. The upper lip is your area to watch for beauty that it doesn’t become excessively shadowed. Of course this depends on the volume of the girls lips>

Next there is a black poly board to keep the shadow side dark, a 120cm Broncolor LightBar with barn doors and a Rosco Peacock filter on the shadow side.  That is about it. simple but extremely effective light for classic painterly beauty.

Post prod: make multiple copies in LightRoom, turn up the red brightness for one virtual copy . This one is the one used to make the skin light. Open in layers in Photoshop , mask out what you don’t want.close up MArtha eyes catchlights

Martha S

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10 thoughts on “Lighting , a classic example of beauty lighting by Neil Snape”

  1. Hi,
    Thank you for the tutorial and the photo is wonderful. I am still unsure if I understood your setup completely so I was wondering if you could post setup photos or diagrams. I am uncertain as to the light positioning and strength. Thanks anyways!

  2. Hi Neil,

    I recently stumbled upon your blog and really like it!
    But as Ared, I’m not pretty sure about the placement of your mainlight. “above center” for me sounds as sitting right over the camera, but from the example pictures it’s obvious that the light is positioned camera left. So camera left and about 30° above her eyelevel. But what do you mean with “the light is turned towards the camera”? Maybe you could describe it like at what hour your mainlight is positioned? So if your model is the center of a watch, the mainlight is now positioned at about 7 o’clock to 8 o’clock and then feathered, so the flash head is turned away from the model and towards the camera?

    Cheers for the great blog

    1. Some flare is actually a good thing. You can minimise flare by using a lens shade which I always do. Unless the light is bright and truly direct, most flare doesn’t really enter into the picture.

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