How to Use Colored Gels in the Background of Beauty Portraits

To some, studio photography is boring and dull. Others view the studio as a blank slate, capable of becoming anything an artist can imagine with the help of carefully placed props, lighting, and models. For photographer Daniel Norton, it doesn’t get much better then an empty room when it comes to crafting a creative campaign:

Rather than starting from scratch, Martin sets his scene by utilizing the leftovers of previous studio sessions. With an old cardboard cutout riddled with openings, he’s able to create a “stained glass” lighting effect by simply taping gels onto the back side and shining a light through it. By adding additional gels to the beauty dish fill, a subtle pop of color wraps around the subject and helps further incorporate the model with the bold background.

Captured with a Nikon D5 equipped with a 105mm prime lens, there’s nothing over the top about the look of Martin’s model. Her hair is neatly pulled back, her makeup and outfit are simple. Had she been lit all in white, the image may not stand out at all. However, with pops of color bleeding into one another, the portrait instantaneously transforms from safe to stunning.

adding pops of color to portraits

If there’s one take away from this little photo shoot, it’s this – don’t underestimate the power of an empty studio!

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