Beauty dishes are great pieces of equipment to have in your lighting arsenal, but they come at a price. You can spend hundreds of dollars on a dish, yet using a cheap shoot-through umbrella can easily produce the same effect, as this 10-minute tutorial by Joe Edelman shows.
A beauty dish is very handy in portrait photography because of its very rapid fall-off of light. They’re ideal for using close to the subject, creating a fairly hard light without a hot spot.
But a shoot-through umbrella allows you to recreate this effect, and they’re available for only $6. Your remaining buck is spent on a piece of black foam, letting you create a circle to prevent the hot spot and give a dot inside the catchlight, signatory of a beauty dish.
The comparison shots below show that while the umbrella is just a modifier, it does well to reproduce the effect of a beauty dish on its own, catchlight and all.
The shot with the actual beauty dish does give some more contrast and a crisper shadow under the jaw, but the $7 option is not far off at all.
Make sure to watch the video above for full instruction of how and when to use a beauty dish, as well as the specifics of positioning and shooting with your DIY beauty dish.