working on location

Working on location with Off-Camera Flash

Working on location with Off-Camera Flash with Dixie Dixon

As a commercial fashion and lifestyle photographer, I always want to bring out the raw beauty and personality of my subjects! It is a good idea to focus on placing your subject in the best light and utilizing certain techniques that flatter faces. I shoot on location for the majority of commercial beauty and fashion work and sometimes I don’t have the time and luxury to create a complex lighting setup, especially when we have an ambitious shot list. So in this case, I love to mix the ambient light on location with strobes or constant lighting. The easiest way to accomplish this is to go with super portable lighting such as the Profoto B1x’s with various modifiers such as the beauty dish, Magnum Reflector and Zoom Reflector. The majority of the time you only need one light, which makes it fairly simple. I love to bounce the light off of a wall and back onto the subject. This creates a natural look that doesn’t look overly lit. When we are outside, I love to place a light in the background and aim it towards the back of my subject in order to create a nice rim light/hair light as well as a little lens flare in camera.  The simpler you keep your lighting, the more time you can spend with your subject creating magic and capturing personality. 

Here are 12 simple techniques I use to create gorgeously lit beauty/fashion images while working on location:

1. Place your subject in the best light. 

Scout your location during the time you are planning to shoot so you know where the light will fall on your subject. Pay attention to shadows, direction of light, and find interesting compositions to place your subject in. Think about the extra light you might need in each spot. Check the weather and think about what might be needed if it is overcast. In overcast scenarios, I love to throw a light in the background facing towards camera to create some drama and lens flare while also creating a nice rim light on the subject. When shooting inside, be sure to take notice where the sun will be at certain times and when there will be direct light shining through. Overhead fluorescent lighting is so unflattering. I never place my subjects in this type of lighting. Instead, I’ll turn off the fluorescents and utilize either window light or strobes to illuminate my subject inside. 

2. Experiment with the light

All faces are different and require different angles of light. Some people look better with butterfly light and some photograph better in moody lighting. You have to give yourself permission to play a bit during the shoot to find which kind of light flatters your subject the most. It is a good idea to use bigger light modifiers such as softboxes to soften more textured skin. 

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To read the full article, launch the digital version of the April 2021 magazine.