Emily Dahl combines flash and lighting for video in a 1920’s inspired beauty shoot | Profoto (CA)

Emily Dahl combines flash and lighting for video in a 1920’s inspired beauty shoot

05 February, 2020

Written by: Sofia Sigfridsson

To fashion and beauty photographer Emily Dahl there’s always a story behind every photo. For the story to fully come alive she combines stills with video. “I’m a storyteller and as such I want the audience to understand the whole story, from beginning to end. And the Profoto B10 enables me to make the story complete”, Emily says.

When Emily Dahl was a teenager, she used to buy fashion magazines like Vogue and Elle and rip out the pictures she found inspiring and pin them to a big board. This way she could look at them again and again. “This is my vision, my goal with every shoot; to touch the viewer so much that they rip out the page and save it. And by offering a behind-the-scenes-clip to the fashion shots, the viewer is told so much more,” Emily says. 

Social media increases the demand for video

The demand for behind-the-scenes clips are increasing, especially for Emily’s editorial clients. “Since almost everyone today uses social media there’s a big advantage in offering short clips or films, only a few seconds long, on how the cover shot was done. The BTS-clips boost the stills which make them a big part of the whole story” Emily says.

Why you should combine video and stills –
Emily’s 3 best tips

  1. Ability to tell the full story. The combination of stills and video makes it possible to show the viewer things outside of the shot that adds to the story.
  2. BTS-clips are popular. A short film clip boosts the cover photo of a magazine.
  3. No extra time. By using Profoto B10 and B10 Plus you can use the same light for both stills and video which both saves time and brings consistency to the story.

Matching the color temperature to suit the scene

Since Emily wanted the light to be consistent for both stills and video, she set the Profoto B10 and B10 Plus to continuous light. “I chose to use the continuous light since it was the best solution for video, and I knew I could keep the same light when shooting stills. Since I wanted to enhance the warm ambient light coming from the light bulb in the room, I could match the natural light in the scene simply by switching the adjustable color temperature control on the continuous light. “

“The B10 products are really user friendly and easy to handle, just the fact that you can remove the cords while working makes things a lot easier.”

To give some extra pop to the image, Emily used her main light in flash mode. “Using flash mode on my key light, I aimed to enhance the beautiful 1920’s makeup the model was wearing. Showing textures, sheen and pigments in makeup is important, and this look incorporated silver pigment that needed some flash to really pop. To further enhance the bone structure of the model’s face, I placed the flash slightly above her, to the right.”

How did you prepare for this particular shoot?

Emily says that she prefers open briefs, a concept or a theme that frames the assignment but at the same time gives her a lot of artistic freedom. This case was no exception, the brief was: “A Romantic turn of a century” presenting products for hair and makeup and the location was a hotel with a luxury feeling in Stockholm. After giving it some thought Emily decided to have the model be a time traveler from the 1920’s who woke up one day a century later, feeling lost and looking for her lover in every room of the suite they were in.

“I always make up what the headline of the shoot would be in my head, and work with that in mind throughout the whole shoot, from choosing the right lighting to building up the set and instructing the model. To get the romantic flair the client asked for in this shoot, I made the light reflect in for example sprinkled water, which created a very dreamy feeling.” 

It’s all in the reflections

When it comes to lighting, Emily always starts by analyzing the location for the photo shoot; what type of location or room is it, are there any natural sources of light, what creates the lighting behind the camera, is there anything already in the room she can use for the light to reflect in, and so on.

Light itself or backlight does not create the visual effect I’m after, it’s all in the reflections.”

“To create the right feeling for this shoot, I worked a lot with reflections: sprinkled water, glasses on the table, the bathroom tile, the bathtub, etc. Light itself, or backlight, does not create the visual effects I’m after. It’s all in the reflections.”

Adding flash for that extra kick of light

To really catch the reflection in the water and from the model’s wet skirt when lying in the tub, Emily chose flash mode. “With the model lying in the tub, clothes on and longing for her loved one, I wanted to make the viewer really feel her sadness. To add to this feeling, I worked with both shadows and reflections, the light coming from her upper right.”

Always with a soundtrack in mind

All artists must find inspiration to create great work and photographers are no exception.

“Even though I love photography, I’m a text-person. I find my inspiration in music, I listen to the lyrics in songs and from them I get a sense of how I want to portray the assignment at hand.” She smiles. “During a photo session, I play the song that inspired me on repeat. I believe it adds to the ambiance as well as to the final result.”

Video and stills – a winning combination

Watching the video and the stills from this shoot Emily was very pleased.

“Using video and stills to tell a story is a big advantage since the combination gives so much more to the viewers. In this shoot I could present all the parts to capture the full story, from the model moving to the structure of the makeup. And using Profoto B10 and B10 Plus I knew they would give me the result I was after. I’m happy I got the chance to tell the story of the time traveler, captured in a hotel in Stockholm, not fully realizing she’s a whole century apart from her lover. Maybe I will bring her to life at another shoot – but that’s a whole different story.”

Written by: Sofia Sigfridsson

Products used in this story

OCF Softbox Octa

Ideal for flattering portraits, used with off-camera flashes
From $159.00 CAD

OCF Softbox Rectangular

A popular, versatile softbox for off-camera flashes
$239.00 CAD

Air Remote TTL

Wirelessly connects your AirTTL light with your camera
From $319.00 CAD

Core BackPack S

A sleek backpack for the fast-moving photographer
$369.00 CAD

B10-Series Battery (4S1P)

A spare battery for the B10-series flashes
$314.00 CAD