Beauty Lighting with Matthew Jordan Smith

This week I participated in a FREE online course with CreativeLive.com hosted by none other than world famous Matthew Jordan Smith. He has been a beauty, fashion, and celebrity photographer for more than 20 years now. Photographing people such as Tyra Banks, Oprah, and Gregory Hines.  If you are clueless as to who this is check out his website and you will see for yourself that he is a man of vision and dedication to his craft. The sketch below on the left was Matthew’s concept for teaching us beauty photography, a simple and yet cunning statement of intense distinction. Our assignment was to photograph our vision of this concept. The photograph below on the right is my vision for his concept. I was lucky to get a model that was extremely easy to direct and great to collaborate wit,h Micheala Texidor. Matthew Jordan Smith's Homework AssignmentSurprisingly enough I feel like I created something similar to beauty lighting with film lights and a silk flag. Although it was a crud set up by taping a black backdrop to the wall behind Micky and using my winter scarf on her head, I was surprised to see what I could accomplish within an 8×6 foot space. I would have chosen an 85mm lens if I had the benefit of having one however the luxury would have been a waste in such a small space. I ended up shooting on a 50mm lens at eye level. With a 600 fresnel on the left side of me, a lighting box behind me (or under me at times) and a silk on my right, I was completely boxed in. However it forced me to remember something wonderful that Matthew was trying to teach us: Get your lighting set and work from one location at the model’s eye level. Allow the model to move within your sweet spot, but don’t move your camera. It may have taken me 3.5 hours to set this up on my own but the shooting only took about 10 minutes total because of the lighting set up. Makeup and hair took us about 3 hours to work but the lighting was simple and only took about 30 minutes to set up (it took longer to get the gear out and move my son’s crib out of the way then it did to shoot). I should give a shout out to Michelle Phan for helping me with the makeup too. I had to make Micky’s nose and brow line look far more pronounced than they are in real life (Micky has very soft and gentle features, making her a classic beauty and I was mesmerized by how she transformed into such a strong regal woman in this shot by her expression and makeup.) and her tips were perfect.  To conclude my thoughts on this project I have to say I wish I could have had more power behind my lights, giving me a much higher f/stop. I shot at an f/5 with a shutter of 200 and dangerously enough an ISO of 1250. I over exposed by .3 just like I normally do for a more pleasing look and was fortunate to find that because I had very little shadows there really wasn’t any grain to speak of. However to blow the image up you would see grain in the iris of her eyes, so my recommendation for the future will be that I get a strobe with a power of at least 1200 Watts to fill a desire to shoot within an f/16 at a 200 shutter with an ISO of 200 or less. All in all I am so happy with the experience and I can’t wait for a new concept to create. If you have any questions on this drop me a line or too. Rebecca

Experimenting with Matthew Jordan Smith's Beauty Photography Tips

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