Sometimes art directors (or clients) want something that wasn’t included in pre-production. Photography is a creative endeavor. Art directors are creative too. When creativity happens during the shoot it’s time to open the tool kit of fast, simple solutions.


The art director for an article about MAC cosmetics new line of romance novel inspired line of makeup wanted three looks of the same model. The same painted muslin backdrop from C&M Backdrops in Atlanta was to be used to keep the budget in line. Each look would have a different background brightness… light, medium and dark. The model is lit with a 22″ beauty dish, while the background gets its light from a 12″ by 71″ Dynalite strip bank.


Turning the strip bank off made the background super dark.


Think pink

Instead of making the background much lighter than the first photo, the art director said “I really wish the background was pink.” I looked at her as asked “How pink would you like it?” She smiled and said “Really, really pink.”

I already knew that without the strip light the background would be almost black. This meant a gel could be used to make the AD’s background really, really, pink. Over the years the studio has acquired quite a colorful selection of 20″ by 24″ theatrical gels. Going through the shades of red, I came across a Roscolux #44 Middle Rose from Rosco, a hundred year old supplier of expendables to theatrical and motion picture productions. I used 4 mini A-clamps from Home Depot to clip the gel to the poles inside the strip bank. I put a flag just above the model’s head to keep any pink light from coloring her hair.


The art director was ecstatic. I made her wish come true. The take away: it’s a great plan to keep gels of many colors in your tool kit of fast, simple solutions should an art director throw a creative challenge your way.2192-PSW LV lighting

Kevin is a commercial photographer from Atlanta. He works for fashion, architectural, manufacturing and corporate clients. When he’s not shooting, he contributes to Photoshop User magazine & writes for