Your job as a photographer is to match your light with your subject’s pose and emotion. In our image, we want a gritty, edgy look. This requires controlling where the light falls on our subject. Here’s how to use stripboxes and a beauty dish to create this edgy style.


Start with an empty set and take a shot–setting your exposure to create a completely black image. This proves the ambient light does not affect your image. Next, add side lighting with stripboxes to create the edge light. Looking at the subject, position one stripbox slightly behind the left shoulder at a 45-degree angle facing into the subject. Do the same on the other side. Make sure to place them far enough away from the background to avoid light spill on the background. If space is limited, applying a grid on the stripbox will control the light plus allow you to keep the light closer to the background. If you notice lens flare, angle the stripbox more toward the subject and make sure you keep your lens hood on. Turn one light on and take a shot. Review how the light is falling on your subject. Do the same for the other light. Then take a shot with both lights on.


Next, position the main light high and just slightly off-center to the subject. This main light will illuminate their face and uniform. An Octabox or beauty dish is a good choice. Use a larger light source to illuminate a full body. A smaller light source can also illuminate a full body if it is moved further back. Keeping the side lights off, take a shot with only the keylight. Review how the light is falling on your subject. Finally, turn all the lights on and start shooting!


Before you photograph your client for this one look, practice with an assistant. When the client walks on set, you can focus on posing and getting the emotion you want for a powerful image. The entire shoot should only last about 10 minutes and they will be in awe on how simple you made it appear.