How to create dramatic short-light boudoir with just a single speedlight (NSFW)
When you think of the popular boudoir photographers out there at the moment, Lindsay Adler’s name is one of those that immediately springs to mind, and for good reason. Her work’s fantastic.
In this video, Lindsay goes through her thought process when lighting a boudoir set in the studio, and demonstrates that you really don’t need a lot of equipment to get amazing results.
Using only a single speedlight and a reflector for a dramatic low key look that highlights form with smooth flowing curves, this is a simple setup that anybody can try very inexpensively.
In the video, Lindsay uses the Rogue FlashBender 2, but there are other options out there, and you could easily modify the setup to better suit the equipment you have available to you.
You could opt for something like a 24″ speedlight softbox, with either a speedlight or a studio strobe. One of my favourite speedlight modifiers at the moment that would work well for something like this is the RoundFlash Ring.
The same principle shown in the video can also be applied outdoors on location, for dramatic portraits. Using the sun in the same relative position as the speedlight in this video as your main light source, adding either a reflector or a flash on the opposite side creates a highlight along the shadow edge of your subject separating them from the environment in the background.
Broad vs Short lighting is a debate which often brings out some very conflicting arguments, but it basically boils down to personal preference. Me? Well, I’m a huge fan of short lighting, but broad lighting definitely has its place.
Is this a style of lighting you use often in your boudoir or portrait work? Is it a look you’ve wanted to try for a while but not been quite sure how to get it? Let us know in the comments.
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.