Beauty Portrait Photography with Sparklers

Fabrics, hats, animals, flowers and glasses are commonly used props for beauty portraits. They make the photo more interesting by giving the subject something to manipulate. Since beauty portraits involve only a subject, lighting and a prop, there’s more pressure on the model to express herself beautifully because she is the main focus of the picture.

It’s not everyday you come across a brilliantly-executed beauty portrait that involves sparks bouncing off the model’s face, but Aaron Nace and his team have pulled it off.

Here’s how they did it:

A Sparkler?!

Creating an interesting portrait is made easier by having a few different elements. One thing you can add is a prop. Props direct attention within the photo and add interest. It also gives the model something to play with.

Using a sparkler was a cool idea, but they had no plans of letting it hit the model’s face at the time. Once they happened to catch one of the sparks hitting the model’s face, they decided to push that boundary.

model holding sparkler during photoshoot

Never force your model to do things she isn’t comfortable with. Aaron put himself in his model’s shoes just to see how close he could hold the sparkler to his face without getting hurt. It turns out it didn’t even hurt at all. Inspiring confidence in your model will pave the way for a more positive and relaxed atmosphere.

sparks hitting models face

Lighting is another challenge in beauty portraits. In this case, the room was pitch black to allow for a longer shutter speed (1 second). A slower shutter speed is often used in light play; coupled with a wind machine, longer light trails were captured on camera. Focusing became another challenge, which is why they trained a flashlight on the model to help the camera focus before taking the photo.

model shooting

It takes a lot of trial and error to get everything right, from the lights, hair, makeup and even the distance of the sparkler from the model’s face. In the end, the team’s diligence and creativity paid off.


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  1. Ahmed Qahal says:

    what kind of lens you was shooting with?

  2. David Ely says:

    Awesome idea… it!!!!!!!!
    I also use the Paul C. Buff Einstein’s & softboxes.
    How do attach the gels inside the softbox?

  3. Debbie Borato says:

    Have any of the models got burnt yet? Sparklers are very dangerous and leave gapping holes in the skin. Think twice about using these. Especially that close to the face. That would be terrible.

  4. Brian Jensen says:

    Burnt skin is the least of your worries if you hold a sparkler that close to your OPEN EYES. I’d never ever do that myself and much less ask anyone to do it. With closed eyes, maybe. But I value my eye sight too much to gamble with it like this, as should anyone especially a model or photographer.

  5. Kamra Man says:

    I think it should be pointed out that the use of fire fireworks including sparklers can be very dangerous.
    With regards to the sparklers, I wonder how many people would know that the CORE temperature when lit can reach 1000 degrees centigrade.

  6. Brian says:

    Terrible idea! Those sparks are tiny pieces of very hot iron. While they may be harmless on the skin they could cause serious damage to an eye.
    No photo, no matter how striking, is worth damaging someone’s vision.

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