Create a beauty-light portrait with nothing but speed lights

Mar 27, 2023

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

Create a beauty-light portrait with nothing but speed lights

Mar 27, 2023

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

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Why would you choose to use speedlights when so many other, more powerful options are available? Well, several reasons, actually. They are small, portable, and lightweight, and the latest versions can really pack a punch. They are fairly good value, and you don’t need an external power source or heavy battery pack. Some new models even come with modelling lights. They are simple yet still capable of giving professional results.

In this video for Adorama, photographer Gavin Hoey shows you how he creates a gorgeous beauty light effect using nothing but speedlights.

The first thing to take into account when shooting with speedlights is that you may want to shoot at ISO 200 so that you don’t have to have the flash at full power. This will speed up the recycle time and make your battery last longer.

Gavin shows three simple variations which will allow you to take creative control over your lighting. The first is a basic butterfly lighting set-up where the light is in front of the model and directly above the camera. If you want to fill in the shadows under the chin, you can add a reflector, as shown in the video.

Next, Gavin adds a circular speedlight to the background. A speedlight has a distinct advantage here. It is small enough to be hidden behind the subject, and you can control the amount of zoom from the camera. If you don’t have a circular speedlight head, you can always add a small reflector modifier. It’s also incredibly easy to add coloured gels to create even more interesting effects.

Speedlights are just so versatile and useful, it’s easy to just throw a couple of extra ones in a bag to give you more lighting options. As Gavin says, in a small home studio, there’s no reason why you need anything more powerful. Sure, fancy lights are nice, but certainly not essential to create beautiful portraits.

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Alex Baker

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

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