Lighting PLUS Tips: Male Fashion Photo Shoot

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: January 21, 2016

Category: Photography

Okay, so as promised, here’s a quick look behind the scenes at a recent fashion shoot for a male clothing line by designer Matti Mamane that I work on just a few days ago. I thought I’d just put together a few lines to give you an idea of what lighting was used and also pass on some hints and tips should you ever get to do a photo shoot that involves this kind of work.

Now, before we get into the details of the lighting, one thing to mention is how fashion shoots, particularly for new clothing ranges, actually go through the process. Generally, it’s incredibly quick. The designer will have many items of clothing that need to be photographed, so our job as the photographer is to ensure that we actually photograph the clothing to show it off at its very best, to include all the details, but also to get through all the clothing as quickly as possible. This means, generally, that the lighting that you use will remain the same throughout the clothing photo shoot.

If we look below, you can see the lighting set up that I used in this particular case. Thankfully, we were using my friend Matt Marsh’s studio in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire (which is just about ready to be opened for general use also by the public).

In the studio, there’s a brick wall, and part of it has been painted black. As soon as the designer saw the black wall, that was it…his mind was made up as being exactly where he wanted the clothing to be photographed against.

fashion_btsNow, when it came to actually arriving in the studio … this was the first time I’ve actually photographed at Matt’s studio, so as usual I have to be very organised, get there way before time, certainly before the client shows up. However, in this instance, the designer turned up quite early. In fact, literally moments after I’d arrived. When it came to actually doing the photo shoot, the designer was with me from the get go so he was watching me set up and get everything ready. Without question, it’s times like this (although I always use one) without question to meter the lights using a Light Meter.

Now the lighting I was using was just one Elinchrom ELC 1000 into the 175cm Octa; a light that I use quite often however to ensure that we got things bang on it right from the start I metered the lights using my Sekonic L-758. The lighting was set up. We had the background ready. It was then away we go. This is something I’ll always do without fail; not necessarily for my benefit but for the designer/client as it goes a long way to them increasing confidence in your ability if they see you nail it from the very first shot from your camera…does that makes sense?


So a nice, simple cross lighting effect. The great thing is we were then able to use a polyboard (white or black) to add in or take away some shadows so that we could actually create a bit more of a mood and atmosphere, depending on what the clothing was. Really, the lighting remained constant throughout the shoot, which enabled us to work very, very fast. Any changes we made were done purely by using the polyboards with either the white facing towards our model from the side, or the black coming on from the side of our model as well.

I’ve included the video at the bottom of this post in case you haven’t seen it to show you exactly how I do this cross lighting, but also to show you how you can get the lighting pattern spot on right from the very start, so make sure you check out that video.


Also I always make sure that I use the X-Rite Color Checker Passport. The reason for this is that I was actually tethering to my MacBook Pro, so as I’m taking the photos, the designer who has sat next to me can see the pictures come in instantly.

I use the Canon tethering Software, so the images coming into the computer, come in very, very quick, and the reason for that, although I’m shooting in RAW, is that I’ve set it up (thanks to the advice of my friend Brian Worley) to bring in the JPEG’s straight onto the screen so there’s no delay…again, allowing us to work very, very fast. Having the designer look at the screen, he’s going to get an idea of exactly what he’s getting, if he’s happy or not, but also he’ll be able to see, because I’ve done a custom white balance, everything pretty much as it should be seen. Then it was just a case of going through the clothing very quickly, getting John the model, to change, and literally it was just a case of maybe two or three photographs per item being taken, the designer Matti being happy with the pose, and then we moved onto the next one.

Some of the picture taken are going to be on display at a fashion show in Las Vegas in the not too distant future so I’ll be sure to post those up. I’ve asked Matti, the designer, to send me some iPhone pictures of the actual images on display, so I’ll be sure to post some of those up.

Anyway I just thought this would be handy to give you an idea of what goes on in something like a clothing shoot. Again, something that is very, very fast paced. If there’s anything else that you’d like to know, please don’t hesitate to drop me an e-mail or better still, leave a comment below so that any questions you ask I can answer probably and then everybody else can benefit.

Cheers, Glyn

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  1. Jeni

    I have seen many of the times the lighting can make a huge difference in photography. As mentioned above some kind of differentiation can give different looks indeed. Thank you for talking about them here.


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