On one of my latest assignment shooting studio portrait of a Swedish illustrator, I did a few different setups in the studio. One of them was this, a simple lighting setup using two Profoto D1 lights. Main light in both portraits were a white Profoto Softlight Reflector camera right on a boom.
The portrait above uses a large 5-foot softbox Octa as fill camera left, but the characteristic beauty dish look is still visible. With no grid and the model pretty close to the background, the white cyclorama is light grey.
Adding a grid to the beauty dish and changing the light ratio plus moving the main light just a little bit creates a very different portrait. I like to work like this, setting up the lights before the model/client comes to the studio, and then breaking it down to the bare minimun that creates something more minimalistic.
Ok, the two portraits have gotten slightly different treatments in Lightroom and Photoshop, but all the same, it doesn’t take to much to change one setup into something else. Many times, the easiest way is just to turn off the lights one by one, but here I wanted to have some detail left in the shadow areas.
With the same distance from the model to the background, just one grid on the main light and lower effect on the fill creates a darker background with a gradient.
During the same session, we also did portraits on blue background with a slightly different lighting, but that was before these photos. So that is yet another step that can be made to easily change the look.
This is a method I am constantly trying to experiment with and develop, starting with a setup that I can change into something different just by switching one background into another, or adding a grid, or turning off the rim light.
I wish I had a robot with preset positions of lights and modifiers programmed into it that I could activate just by clapping my hands. Maybe something for the future?