Letting there Be Light – the Way You Want It to Be!

Whether in the soft solitary light of the day or the controlled conditions of a studio, attaining that perfect image by leveraging the freedom it allows to set up a shot is the essence of fashion photography.

It is here that the quiet elegance of the model, their glamorous costumes and hairstyles and make-up, and their features almost chiselled-like; gorgeous contrasts, and stunning hues can be brought together to create an image that’s carefully planned and executed.

But the beauty and intelligence of the process of making an image lies in the less-talked-about details, the behind-the-scene secrets. And here’s a quick peek into such intricacies that add up to a piece of art – a photograph – through a study of three images made in as many different lighting setups:


1. Using only natural light outdoors


© Rajiv Shyamsundar

© Rajiv Shyamsundar

A striking shade of red flows on her, coy twists and turns as complex and enigmatic as she herself is. She rests on a charpoy, like her soul is far from resting, and an artist seizes her in contemplation, from a safe distance, an overbearing view without overdoing it.

This is how Toehold Skipper Rajiv Shyamsundar captured the elegant model draped in a gorgeous gown. This day was overcast, which afforded Rajiv some pleasantly diffused light and very clement conditions with no harsh contrast upsetting the light, fluidic feel Rajiv sought.  And since there were no deep shadows to worry about, Rajiv didn’t need to employ any artificial light.  The spectacular perspective, showing a bird’s-eye view with the fossilised-like floor making the perfect background to complete the rustic appeal of the composition.


2. Using artificial light outdoors


© Rajiv Shyamsundar

© Rajiv Shyamsundar


Holler! We are talking about unabashed colours that can almost make you gasp in delight! She wears the blue of the sky, of the sea and is almost afloat, surreal, among the contrasting yellow flowers.

Rajiv used a ladder to prop the model up to juxtapose her with the lovely flowers to complement the model’s indigo robe beautifully.  But to lighten the sharp shadows and accentuate the many vibrant shades, Rajiv used a single strobe to counter the excessive contrast of the natural light.  The result is subtler tones, richer hues, and enhanced dynamic range due to which the blues in the sky have been expertly preserved.  We also love the velvety texture of the dress Rajiv managed to highlight, thereby portraying the costume in the best possible light – a crucial feature for any fashion photograph to achieve its ultimate objective.


3. Using only artificial light (indoors)


© Rajiv Shyamsundar

© Rajiv Shyamsundar

The dramatic shadow of her exquisite form falls behind on the wall as a rebellious spirit breaks gently out of the demure shadows into chromatic brilliance in ethnic Indian overalls.

Rajiv placed a strobe on the ground, fitted with a diffuser, to coax a phantasmic shadow into reality. To this whimsical scene he infused a splash of unsheathed light from a diffuser-less strobe right behind the camera (and in front of the model) at a measured distance, to emphasise the unrestrained vibrance of the ethnic blouse, and implant a sparkling spot of catchlight in her piercing eyes.  The result is a masterful portrait that achieves exactly what Rajiv intended.

To learn and master all these lighting techniques and more, sign up for our next Fashion Photography Workshop.

Categories: Articles, Featured, Photography, Uncategorized
Sourabha Rao

Sourabha is a staff writer at Toehold who dexterously gives verbal form to the inexpressible, and with her passion for travel, weaves immersive stories that transcend space and dissolve time.

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