How to Create Three Very Different Looks with a Beauty Dish

Getting into fashion or beauty photography doesn’t have to involve getting lots of expensive gear right away. As New York City-based photographer Jeff Rojas shows you in this short tutorial, you can capture three totally different looks with a very small footprint and just a couple of lights.

Rojas created the tutorial for Phottix, and he focuses specifically on their beauty dish and how versatile it can be. Using a beauty dish, a reflector, and (for two of the looks) a softbox, he’s able to create three very distinct portrait looks.


1. The Dramatic Portrait

The first portrait is dark, moody, and dramatic. It’s meant to enhance features—in this case, his model’s freckles—and all you need is a beauty dish with a grid at 45° above your subject, and a reflector directly below the subject’s chin to fill in some of the harsh shadows.

2. The High Key Portrait

Without moving the beauty dish and reflector at all, you can totally change the feel of the portrait from “dramatic” to “clean and high key” by simply adding a softbox in as the background.

It changes the whole aesthetic and requires next to no work on your part to switch from one look to the next.

3. The Fashion Portrait

Finally, Rojas covers standard fashion portrait lighting. Again, all he uses is a beauty dish (this time with a diffuser on it) and a softbox with a grid. No reflector this time.

The beauty dish is placed above the subject at a 45° angle, and the gridded softbox is placed in front of the subject as a fill light.

And there you go. Three totally different looks with minimal gear and setup. Check out the full video above to see the exact lighting setups for yourself, and hear Jeff explain why he uses the modifiers he does.