Even though it is very tempting to follow lighting trends that seem more “fashionable,” I prefer to stay true to my style and use trendy techniques sparingly and only for enhancement. I like my work to be polished and elegant in its simplicity. I use strong lighting drop off to create dimension, depth and contrast in my images, focusing the viewer’s sight on the most important elements.
One of the undeniable trends in the beauty industry, and the hair segment in particular, is minimal lighting. Clients usually hire me for a monolight schematic, which can be very powerful. You can create diversity in your portraits by manipulating the distance of the source from the subject, the distance between subject and background, and the angle of the lighting. Here are three looks and techniques I employ most [all shot with a Canon 5D Mark III and a 24-70mm lens at f/2.8].
All photos © Daryna Barykina
1. Blonde Waves
In this self portrait, which depicts my lighting style and aesthetic quite well, I am about 6 feet away from the paper background [Savage brand’s Fashion Grey], and I’m using one lighting source with a 22-inch beauty dish modifier and diffusion sock. The light is set right in front and above me at approximately 50 degrees. This lighting, and my position, turns the grey background into a grey-black gradient. The diffusion sock softens the shadows under the chin and in the curves of my hairstyle. Because of its simplicity, this lighting setup directs your attention straight towards the subject, and you cannot ignore the blonde waves of hair, which is the key element here.
2. Timeless Beauty
I use a mixture of warm and cold tones when I want to enhance my more classic lighting setup. I create ambient light reflecting one source, with color gel over my standard modifier, bouncing off the ceiling/wall, and direct another source (without gels) with the 22-inch beauty dish with diffusion sock onto my model. My second source serves as a key light; first source serves as fill, adding the cool tone to the shadows and midtones. It is unnecessary to add color gels to the second light since, juxtaposed with cool fill light, it will look much warmer.
3. Glitter Queen
Long exposure has been actively used in the beauty industry for quite some time and looks like it isn’t leaving us any time soon. It has always been one of my favorite “special effect” techniques. This photo was taken with one lighting source with a 22-inch beauty dish modifier and 50-degree grid. Lighting was set up in front of the model and directed onto her at a 50-degree angle. My modeling light was on, and while the strobe “froze” the model in this pose, with the right exposure [1/4 sec, f/9, ISO 100] it also captured light trails reflected from the glitter on her hair. The model had to bow down and come back to the original pose right after the flash fired. The grey background looks much darker because the distance between the background and model is about 6 feet.
Ukraine-born Daryna Barykina, whose personal project Bruised Behind The Mask recently helped raise awareness of domestic violence, is a beauty and fashion photographer currently residing in Florida. Clients seek her out for creative lighting concepts, use of color and high-end retouching.