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Beauty portrait with make-up, studio lighting with setup for face photo. Stefan Tell

This kind of beauty portraits in my studio is not what I usually do, but the lighting setup is useful for all kinds of headshots. The main difference might be that these photos have a lot more make-up and hours in Photoshop than the rest of my portfolio.

The client was a Swedish producer of make-up and they wanted photos of their products in use on a model to show the colours of the season. In my studio we managed to fit a model, a stylist, a hairdresser, a couple of people from the client’s office. And me. And four studio lights. And some light shapers.

Behind the scenes and how I did it…


Three weeks of our summer vacation we spent in the small town of Collioure in France, and with kids that like to get up early, I saw a lot of fantastic sunrises. A bakery was also a part of that equation, and they tend to open when most people still sleep.

Taking photos of sunrises is one thing, and that can quite easily be done without any fancy equipment, camera stands or lights. But, when you want to include, let’s say, your son in that sunrise photo, some kind of light needs to be added.

On this vacation, I had only packed my Fuji X100s and one Nikon Speedlight SB-800. The flash extension cord stayed for the most of the duration in my bag. The built-in flash in the Fuji is quite good, I think, but it just gives you light from one fixed direction, on-axis with the camera and a little bit too low.

[Read the full post here…]


Photographing products on white background is something that never gets old, with all the e-commerce and catalogs and magazines, clients wants photos that are easy to use everywhere.

But with a white background the products might look flat and boring, often due to the background light that easily can wash away all contrast. Just using two pieces of black paper/cardboard/foamboard can solve that problem.

[Read the full post here…]


When I take portraits of my clients in the studio, I often end up with a grey background. Most of the time it is a white background, that I make light or medium grey depending on the subject and what I want to achieve, just by letting the right amount of light reach the background. But sometimes, background colour makes it a better portrait.

Changing background colour, or rather, adding, can be really really simple (just use the Adjustment Brush in Lightroom) if the portrait is lit in a way that takes away most of the hurdles when it comes to making the transition between the subject and the background look natural. Or natural enough for a studio portrait like this.

Rim lights and background colour…


Recently I bought two Profoto Umbrella XL (silver) with the optional Front Diffuser, they are really big and gives a soft light (of course, as they are quite big light sources) but with contrast. Maybe not the light modifier I would use primarily for portraits in the studio (I have tried it, and it is ok, but not great), my 5-foot softbox Octa is still more my choice there, but for assignments on locations they are very good. And they are easy to carry, and easy to set up.

I was hired to take publicity photos from an event a client of mine had which included a prize ceremony and they needed good photos of the winners. That included single portraits of the winners as well as group photos in different sizes.

What made me very glad was that with just two umbrellas (big ones, but still just umbrellas) I could use the exact same lighting setup as well as light settings and exposure to get good portraits and good group shots.

Two umbrellas for portraits and group shots…