Beauty Lighting: On Any Budget

Shooting beauty commercials isn’t like shooting other types of videos, skin tones are super important and so is making your model look the best. In this video filmmaker, Valentina Vee from Aputure talks about her tips for the best ways to shoot beauty commercials when you are on a tight budget.

For quite a few beauty commercials you will want to use a white background. You really need to make sure however that your model is far enough away from the background so that the material will not actually be seen in the shot (so use a 50-100mm lens if possible).

For lighting, you will want to have very soft lights and in most cases a circular light source – this will give you nice catch-eyes. Having a bounce below the model will help illuminate those chin shadows. Having some rim lights (but not too much) is also very important.

Vee used 3 light sources and one bounce for her first shot. You can use fewer lights and more bounces and reflectors if you are really on a budget – the result might not look exactly the same (if you want that super white background dissolve you will need some powerful yet soft lights) but you can still get a nice enough result for lower budget work.

There is a lot of things that you can shoot outdoors as well when it comes to beauty commercials but you will need even more lighting and a lot of diffusions (that is if you don’t have a naturally diffused skies). You will need a large silk diffusion as well as at least a couple of lights powerful enough to overpower the sun (at least on the controlled area where you have the diffusion and your model is). Something Vee doesn’t mention but is very important is using ND or VND filters – these will help you with dynamic range and can help you prevent blown skies.

For the budget option, Vee only used a silver reflector – the result is significantly less attractive to be honest – especially if you look at what happens to the skies (again – ND/VND here is crucial), but the model itself is lit fairly well.

In the final shot, Vee shot a face close up – one with a higher budget and one with a lower one. Here she used a bounce instead of a fill light for below, another fill and a main light – here there are some big differences but the basic idea in both cases is that you won’t have shadows on your face and how to get the best skin tones (good quality lights with high CRI/TLCI are really important here – but these are getting down in price all the time).

Bonus video: Understanding Light Quality – hard vs. soft light

YouTube player


You can find more HDSLR tutorial videos here on LensVid as well as more of Vee’s tutorials and videos – here. You can also check out more light related videos on our special subsection.

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.