08 Jun 2015

The Power of Color by Dior

No Comments Photo sessions

In August 2011, my country hosted a competition for make-up artists, organized by Dior and blogmakijaz.pl website. Its prizes included Dior cosmetics as training with Alex Chatti (Dior’s chief make-up artist) and Julie Bodrier (Sephora’s chief make-up creator). Karolina Zientek, a make-up artist cooperating with me on nearly every beauty shot in my portfolio, concluded that we should participate.

The task was to create a make-up and take three shots of it: the whole face, a profile and a close-up of shut eyelids. I never photograph my models’ in profile, so it was a new experience (there had only been one exception in the past – and not a beauty shot).

My model was Klaudia Danch, alias “Kala” – a girl proven many times. The hairstyle, made by Wioletta Nonas from Le’Prestige, took slightly over two hours. Later, Karolina started the make-up in a make-up studio, but finished it in her flat because we had to take the photos there due to lack of any other suitable place. It wasn’t easy at first: for nearly one hour we tried to arrange all things so as to squeeze them in. Those were my complete beginnings when it comes to beauty shots (a second photo shoot of that type), so I wasted quite a lot of time for issues which are obvious to me now. My assistant was Matt “Pro” Prociak, who has been my helper for a long time. As we were doing our best to arrange the lights, the girls weren’t wasting their time: the make-up was being continuously perfected and the result looked as follows in the close-up:

Potęga koloru Dior

Lightning

Let’s go on to the most important issue – the light. As I’ve already mentioned, three shots were required, including one close-up of the eyelids, so there were two beauty shots left. I first took the photo of the whole face. As the hairstyle contributed to the “wow effect” beside the make-up, I didn’t even consider a face close-up at all. The final shot looked as follows:

Potęga koloru Dior

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 135mm 2D DC  | F/8,0, 1/200, Iso 200

The setup was very simple – one light ahead from above. I used a transparent umbrella as a modifier because I didn’t have anything else. I also utilized two hair lights; without them, the hair would feature more black patches and wouldn’t be accentuated by light from the side. I didn’t like the background, so I took my time to edit it and you can see the result in the photo. I wouldn’t do it the same way again because it looks bad. It could be better for sure. I should also have added the second light for the background, maybe with a snoot or even a grid… But, as I’ve already mentioned, those were my beginnings when it comes to beauty shots.

setup-dior-03

I took one more shot with the same setup, although the hair lights there didn’t really come out right. I didn’t correct them because I didn’t intend to use that shot. We were simply planning the next photo and I insisted that the model hold something in her hands. We found colorful feathers; I took one photo and immediately put the camera aside because I decided that we needed something better. The girls kept on searching (and found it, but let me come back to this topic in a while). However, when I got home and saw that test photo on the display, I thought that it was quite interesting and eventually included it in my portfolio for some time (with an equally bad background, of course).

Potęga koloru Dior

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 135mm 2D DC | F/9,0, 1/200, Iso 200

As I wrote, the girls found something better than the feathers: a flower ball – or at least that was what it was supposed to look like in the shot. It was actually a half-ball, in which I put a flash with RF remote release. The flash added some magic and lit the hand, arm and virtually everything around the ball in an interesting way. The problem was to make it levitate above the hand. As I already was of the opinion that Photoshop was the last resort and I wanted to do as much as possible during a photo shoot, I concluded that we needed something barely visible. Sadly, our prop kept rotating when hung on a thread. It was impossible to accept even a minimal turn because one was able to see that it was only a half-ball, not a ball. A thin wire was a good idea, but we didn’t find any. Finally, we ended up with my assistant “Pro” holding a stand attached to the light in the half-ball, so I had to remove it from the shot while editing it afterwards.

Potęga koloru Dior

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 135mm 2D DC | F/10, 1/200, Iso 200

I don’t normally like pure gradients in the background, but I do like the one here. The wall was purple, so it matched the styling quite well, while the light in the ball nicely lit everything around. The setup was as follows: one light behind a transparent umbrella was directed straight at the face (i.e. it was placed on the left), while the second light on the right lit the hair and the back of the neck; I used no modifier with that one. The third light was put in the ball levitating above the hand. Those were all YoungNuo YN-460II – very cheap lights that I really like. The whole lighting set I used back then (including stands and RF remote release) was worth approx. USD 300.

Beauty photo setup dior

setup-dior-02

Summary

Everything is quite fine in terms of light, but I guess I would edit the shots in a different way today: I would add more contrast and more 3D. I wouldn’t mess the background up so much: I would probably light it better so that it wouldn’t require editing. Still, I really like the profile shot. And well, Karolina took the first place! She won and went to Warsaw, where, together with Make-Up Masters finalists, she took part in the training I mentioned at the beginning of this article. After that photo shoot, I took quite a lot of beauty shots with Karolina as the make-up artist and we have cooperated until now.

PS.

You can find more about that photo shoot on Karolina Zientek’s website (unfortunately available only in Polish).
(…) As I was collecting my prize, I learned that when the jury received my application, they had considered it a joke – photos from Dior’s new campaign. Thus, they sent them to the headquarters in Paris for confirmation – and got surprised :) (…) – see full post by Karolina.


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I have taken beauty and fashion shots for a few years. I publish the results of my work on this blog together with photo shoot descriptions, setups, backstage photos and everything that is significant while photographing. I try to diversify the equipment I use during my photo shoots.