At Zeferino Professional Lighting this week we would like to take a deeper look at the lighting in beauty commercials. When approaching any form of beauty lighting, it is important to know your subject’s facial structure, skin texture, and color. How does the light naturally fall on their face? What is the shape of their forehead, nose, chin, etc.? How does the light change as the subject turns?
You’ve probably built up a few default lighting setups that you can rely on, and that’s fine. However, since every face is different, you will need to tweak your setup and create a “rulebook” for the shoot. Then you can adjust your setup to suit narrative decisions and atmosphere, all the time knowing how to bring out the best from your models.
The first port of call is to check previous shots of your talent — either still photography or video — to see how other DPs or photographers have approached them. You don’t necessarily have to like the way they’ve been photographed in the past, but it will certainly help inform your lighting decisions. So, study their characteristics and get to know as much as you can about their facial structure.
The next stage is to set up a test shoot. This isn’t always possible, but I strongly advise getting some time with your models/characters if you can. It’s a chance for you to study how light falls on them and make informed lighting decisions on your shoot. It’s all about getting to know what does and doesn’t work so that you can reduce the guesswork or variables on the shoot day.
The main thing is to hold a light and move it around your model’s face, studying how the light changes. Where are the most flattering light positions? What light positions cause awkward shadows? How does a side light affect skin texture? Move the light in all angles from left to right and top to bottom to get a sense of their facial structure.
The next stage was to choose which beauty filters would work best. Roscoe Beauty and the Lee Cosmetic sets work fine. This is all about finding which filters match the skin tone of your model. These packs contain a wide range of colors and clearly not all will work, so it’s good to try out a range making a note of what seems to flatter her skin.
Moreover, make sure you have storyboard and shot list so you can prioritize your schedule and tick off the shots as you go. This should ensure you have enough time to implement your lighting rules. And have enough time to spend on the most important shots.