Andrea Belluso is an experienced photographer with more than three decades in the business. Over the years, Andrea has shot everything and everyone from supermodels and celebrities to fashion, beauty and stock photography. In addition, Andrea works as a light shaper evangelist at the Profoto headquarters in Stockholm.
Once a month Andrea shares one of his recently used setups. He is usually available to answer any questions you might have, but as he is on a much deserved vacation at the moment, we cannot guarantee the he will reply instantly.
This month’s setup: The Supermodel Setup
Perfect when: You happen to have a supermodel in front of your camera.
But also whenever: You want a clean, fresh and flattering light.
The assignment: Swedish beauty magazine Daisy Beauty contacted me to photograph their cover featuring supermodel Caroline Winberg. Caroline is known for numerous campaigns for Valentino, Versace, Oscar de la Renta, Escada, Armani, D&G, Rolex, Chloé, Ralph Lauren and many others as well as for several Vogue covers. In other words, it was a pretty exciting assignment that I didn’t think long before accepting. In addition to the cover, I was to also shoot some images to illustrate an article about her in the magazine. The pictures had to be shot on a white background and have a fresh and dynamic feeling portraying Caroline’s beauty and character.
The setup: I wanted a setup that would work for the cover shot as well as for the full-length pictures for the article to give continuity to the picture story. Also, I wanted a light that was soft but with a bit of extra punch and a bit of character though keeping within the lines of commercial lighting that was required by the client. Can you guess what I used?
I chose the Profoto RFi 5’ Octa softbox as my main light. I chose a 5’ Octa because the size and shape would give me a soft light with a wide light spread so that I could have the same intensity in the light both for the beauty shots as well as for the full-length fashion shots. The fact that RFi softbox have a deeper shape was also a great help, as it gave me a bit more punch in the colors and contrast. The problem otherwise with traditional softboxes in general, and especially the ones that are of larger sizes, is that the light quality tends to be a bit flat. The Profoto RFi 5’ Octa, on the other hand, keeps the softness but gets rid of the flatness.
I then decided to make the light a bit more dynamic by placing a rim light on the hair. For this I used the smallest of RFi softboxes, the Profoto RFi 1×1.3’, placed high on a boom stand. I focused its light even more with a Softgrid, which also gave me a bit more structure in the hair. The Profoto RFi 1×1.3’ softbox is probably the hardest of the softboxes in terms of light quality. This is due mainly to its small size. As you know, the smaller the light source, the harder the light. Plus, if the light source has a grid in front of it then the light gains focus and contrast and is more restricted in terms of spill light.
Since I was in the mood for softboxes that day I decided to set the light on the white background also with softboxes, in this case two symmetrically placed Profoto RFi 3×4’ to give me a nice and even wide light spread to minimize eventual shadows on the background.
I used this setup for the whole shoot and it served me perfectly in all the different situations, from the cover face shot to the sitting-down portrait-like image to the lively jumping picture. The choice of softboxes proved to be ideal for the day, especially when the stylist took out a fluorescent green top that Caroline had to wear in a shot. Fluorescent colours are always a photographer’s nightmare, at least my nightmare, but the softboxes saved the day in this case. On a final note, working with Caroline was a lot of fun. She is, of course, extremely professional and delivers to perfection, but on top of that she also turned out to be a very pleasant person.
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