How to Set Up and Photograph a Powder Portrait Session

If you’ve been looking to practice different lighting techniques, you may want to try your hand at powder photography. The skill has been gaining momentum across the strobist community lately. As a result, there have been a slew of video tutorials popping up on the interwebs that take a lot of the guess work out of the exercise, leaving more time to dedicate to making a powdery mess out of a perfectly clean workspace. What could be more fun than making a mess and taking some awesome photographs? Take a look at Cedward Brice’s behind the scenes shoot for a little inspiration and few pointers on how to get started:

Brice used a three light setup that consisted of 580EX II speedlights triggered by Pocket Wizards, two Photoflex strip boxes on either side of the dancer, and a Photoflex Octodome in front and slightly above of the dancer. He shot on a Canon 5D Mark II at 1/200 of a second on f/5.6 with an ISO of 400.

photographing powder

After some trial and error, Brice eventually decided that using more flour was a good thing. Learn from his mistakes and avoid using cocoa powder, which only turned to hot chocolate when mixed with the sweat of the dancer. In others words, a BIG mess—and not the fun kind.

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One response to “How to Set Up and Photograph a Powder Portrait Session”

  1. Bev says:

    Love doing the powder thing but thought there are some things everyone should be aware of. People who are allergic and/or asthmatic don’t need to be inhaling flour. So first, let the model/client know what you plan on doing well in advance and make it clear that some of the stuff is inevitably going to get in their eyes, nose, mouth, lungs etc. (Make sure they aren’t allergic to wheat!) Wheat is a common allergy. Corn is a less common problem, so I like to use cornstarch. Next, don’t try talcum powder… stuff in it can be nasty when inhaled (check with any pediatrician– they warn moms about using it around babies).

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