Fashion / Catalog Lighting for Mood and Detail – Erik Valind

The devils in the details, especially when it comes to photographing clothing for websites and catalogs. With portraits and people photography we’re free to be as moody and contrasty as we want with the lighting, but when a client hires you to capture their clothing or accessories, they want to see the detail as well as feel the mood. To achieve both of these goals in the final image I used three of the new Siros 800 S monolights and a variety of Broncolor lighting modifiers.


To start my lighting build out I focused on the person, our model, and then moved onto the products – the clothing and specifically the purse. Just as I would with any portrait, I began with the face, placing my first light to camera right and attaching a beauty dish. This beauty dish with diffusion sock on it gave me a soft even light to flatter the models face. And with it positioned off camera it cast a fair amount of shadow as well, which created contrast and gave the photo a sense of depth.


Now with the model’s face lit and the balance of highlight and shadows giving us some contrast, I needed to separate her dark hair from the background. To do this I put a second Siros strobe on a boom arm up above the model’s head to camera left. This was modified with a 2’x2′ softbox which created a soft wrapping hairlight. A larger light source like the softbox also allowed light to spill onto the jacket illuminating it from the side and making the outfit appear three dimensional in the final photo. With only these to lights though, I had created a cross lighting pattern which did wonders for sculpting the model and her upper body, but didn’t complete all of our objectives: namely mood (contrast) AND detail.


Having two lights on opposites sides of the subject cast a lot of shadow towards the front of her body facing the camera, and this shadow hid most of the detail in the cloths and the purse that we added. To raise up the level of these shadows enough to expose the detail, I needed to add a third light as a fill light, which ideally wouldn’t create any shadows of its own. This is easy to do by simply placing the fill light on camera axis, as all of its shadows then fall behind the subject where the camera can’t see them. But what modifier do you use that won’t end up killing all of the contrast in the photo? This is where I was really excited to learn that the new Siros monolights work seamlessly with the amazing Broncolor Paras! I hooked up a Para 88 with the third and final Siros and placed it above my head at a low power setting for the perfect amount of 3D shadowless fill light.


If you look at the final photo you’ll see that we maintained a beautifully illuminated image, with a sense of depth, while still bringing out all the detail in the leather purse and outfit. Then if you look closely at the crop of the model’s face you can see the tell tale catchlights in her eyes. Overall I was really impressed with the power and color accuracy of the Siros as well as their ability to utilize all of the existing Broncolor modifiers that I’ve grown rely on, especially the Parabolic line of light shapers.



— At a Glance —

(3x) Siros 800 S

Broncolor 2’x2′ Softbox

Broncolor Para 88

Broncolor Beauty Dish


Nikon D800 – 70-200MM f/2.8 Lens

1/200 Sec – f/8 – ISO 200


Photographer: Erik Valind

Make Up Artist: Soleil Atiles

Model: Jordan H – New York Model Management

Studio: Studios LIC – New York

Background: Oliphant Studio