V-Flats as Negative Fill for Fashion & Beauty Photography Lindsay Adler on why and how to best use black V-Flats for Negative Fill and flagging

In this video, NY based fashion photographer Lindsay Adler shows 3 different ways of how a v-flat can benefit fashion & beauty photography by creating negative fill. But first a little bit about negative fill and v-flats.

We will start with the simple bit – what is a v-flat? well, it is a light modifier that you can buy or make yourself (see DIY video below). It is made in the shape of a v (hence the name) and typically based on hard foam although other materials might work as well. V-flats often have one dark (light-absorbing) material and one white (light-reflecting material). You can think of them as reflectors/flags depending on how you use them (which side you pick).

So what is negative fill? you will first need to go back to light fill which points to an area in your image where you are adding light to the shadows. Negative fill as you might have guessed is the opposite – adding more shadows (and in some cases also more contrast to your image.

As Adler points correctly in the video – v-flats are another tool used to control light and achieving your perfect shot (especially when it comes to fashion & beauty) is having full control of what you shoot and how the light interacts with your subject.

In the video, Adler shows 3 examples of using v-flats:

  1. Emphasize cheekbones & jawlines – in this first example of a headshot she demonstrates how using black v-flats on either side of the model will introduce negative fill in a way that will emphasize the structure of the face – this can be good for portraits where you want to show this type of contrast.
  2. Define edges – in the second example which Adler calls define edges she demonstrates how adding two v-flats from the sides adds to the drama of the image and make the edges more defined (you can also think of this as a sort of in-camera “vignette” although the darkening isn’t necessarily oval in this case).
  3. Control the background – this final example is all about flagging or blocking the light from reaching an area (as opposed to just not reflecting light as we demonstrated in the last two examples. Just put the v-flat in the path of the light and block it – in this case Adler blocked the light to the background creating a shadow which she used to create a little gradient in the color of her background which was too similar to the models dress.

Quality collapsible v-flats can get pretty expensive although they are a very valuable tool in the arsenal of many studio photographers. You can get a set of two 40″x80″ V-FLAT WORLD Foldable V-Flats for around $380. The alternative is to make your own (you can paint the other side black of course).

How to make your own V-flat for under $20 (Spyros Heniadis)

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Bonus video: Adler with more v-flat examples

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You can find many more helpful photography tips on our Photography tips section as well as lighting techniques here on LensVid (if you are more into beauty – take a look at this subsection). You can find all of Adler’s other videos we have published here in the past on this link.

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of LensVid.com. 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.

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