Let there be light! – feat. international published top glam model Melisa Mendini.
This gear fits anything from shooting portraiture to boudoir, lingerie, glam, art nude and alluring full nudes.
I am introducing you to the smallest necessary equipment selection that will nevertheless take you a long way when starting out in Sexy Women Photography. I am calling this selection the Little Kit of Light and I perform a lot of shoots with this gear myself.
Results Created with my Essential Studio Lighting Kit (1 Flash Head only)
One Flash is Necessary
Unless you want to rely on sunlight, artificial ambient light and reflectors, a flash head (or speedlight) is necessary to create the main basis: light volume. A flash head is the core-piece you need for your lighting efforts.
Mobile Flash Head
The Little Kit of Light contains only one flash head. It is absolutely enough to illuminate (almost all) the desired looks. I am using a very mobile and simple built monolight (monobloc), meaning a flash head that already includes the capacitor. The whole technology is packed into this compact and powerful flash head.
I use a 400 Ws flash head and it delivers way more juice than I need in most of the cases. Of course there are more powerful heads out there. But the thing is that you really do not need more power when you get started in photography.
1st Light Modifier Included: When you buy a flash head, it usually comes along with a so-called standard reflector. This silver-coated modifier actually comes in pretty handy as background or kicker light. However, it is not very useful for the illumination of a model’s skin. It has a harsh lighting character, provides very sharp shadow details – so no soft look but good when you want an effect or hair light.
Light Modifiers: More Important than Flash Heads!
The flash head you bought only emits light. Of course you can control it somewhat by making it stronger or weaker – but the beam is nevertheless uncontrolled in shape, character, diffusion and even direction. The most important enhancements to your lights are the “really-need-to-be-attached” light modifiers (light formers).
For now, I am differentiating them in a very simple way into two groups: modifiers that create a soft light and formers that create a rather harsh light.
Small Box: In the kit I have a small, pretty simple softbox (60x90cm/2x3’).
Folded flat it is easily transportable; in its assembled state it only gives the impression of being bigger. The box is set up within a minute: it works with an umbrella mechanism, meaning it opens up just like an umbrella, then the diffuser fabric is being attached – and that’s it! This quick process comes in handy when I work on location and have to shoot various sets.
Octobox: A bigger box (Ø120cm/Ø4’) with the exact same umbrella mechanism I often use is a so-called octobox. Now this one is not square-shaped but octagonal. The bigger diameter casts a clearly softer light. In addition, when I use this former as key light, it leads to a round reflection in the model’s eyes.
A beauty dish generally casts a more defined, edgier light. The light is being focused but at the same time scattered by the bowl form. I mainly make use of this dish as a key light in my glamour shots because they have to come across crisper and shinier. The dish once again creates a round, natural reflection in the eyes.
Grids (Honeycombs, Fabric Grids)
If I want to direct the light direction in a more focused way, grids help to limit the light beam from spreading too much and allow for a more controlled use of the beam.
Reflector for Fill-In
Since we are only having one flash head in the Little Lighting Kit, we need to make use of a fill-in every now and then (in order to illuminate strong and harsh shadows) by using a different tool than a flash.
The absolutely easiest, most reasonable and really well working tool is a so-called 5-in-1 disc reflector. It has a golden surface on one side and either a silver or white one on the opposite side. Last but not least, this tool can also be applied as scrim or flag.
Light stands. I recommend you gradually invest more money in light stands. It is gear that lasts for about 20 years. Invest in brand’s light stand (like Manfrotto)– after all, they carry and secure your relatively expensive flash head and modifiers. Don’t go for the cheapest! Stands I use cost about 90 Euros – they are absolutely worth their price.
Grey Card/Color Checker Card. You shoot in RAW format so you can influence the white balancing later on in post. But for this you need to have a reference on some of the images.
A simple grey card provides such an indispensable reference for the post production process. The grey card I use has a white, grey and black reference.
When you start with a new series you should absolutely take a few pictures with a grey card in the beginning so you will have that reference later on which is necessary to determine an exact white balance in Photoshop© or Lightroom©.
Enhancing & Tuning my Little Kit of Light
Now, there’s always a way to improve and expand things, isn’t there? You can add some more light modifiers like a strip light or an additional medium sized softbox. As mentioned before: modifying light is what it’s all about. So investing a bit extra money in these tools is certainly not wrong.
A second flash head comes in handy when you want to add some effect light or a kicker. Just working with a fill-in reflector wouldn’t be enough anymore.
Results Created with my Essential Studio Lighting Kit (2 Flash Heads)
NEXT: LEARN MORE THE EASY WAY
In my ebook SMOOTH, I walk you through all the equipment, techniques and processes to help you create those stunning shots that you always wanted to. Contrary to popular believe that one should only use the most expensive lighting equipment I demonstrate in ebook SMOOTH that you can get fully professional results by investing only $1-1,700 in light equipment.
The key is to learn what is essential and what is not. In the practical case studies we will dive into the pragmatic aspects and I show you how to utilize the “Little Kit of Light”.
SMOOTH. Sexy Looks the Easy Way!
Portfolio Blueprint. Completely revealed overview of 7 characterized nude looks. Each of these looks gets meticulously stripped down. Follow an all-embracing step-by-step instruction-path from start to finish. Featuring Melisa Mendini. (eBook Version)
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