Fantasy Fatale

This class is part of a series of fashion photography classes where Karl teamed up with Next Model Management’s Kariss Craig, professional fashion stylist Bianca Swan and makeup artist and hairstylist Shanine Levrier for an intensive week of filming high-end fashion photography. The results form part of our newest fashion course, a new series, that details each and every step of fashion photography.

You can follow this shoot from set building and test shots through to the final finishing touches. Watch as Karl uses careful control of light to create an impression of moonlight through a doorway and adds a fantasy-like, dappled light effect to really enhance the mood of the image.

A strong idea is central to a good image but sometimes the final picture doesn’t quite match what we set out to achieve. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In this class, Karl clearly shows the importance of thinking on your feet when he takes his idea of creating a mysterious, ethereal scene and turns it into something far more sinister. Together with a team of stylists, assistants and model Kariss Craig, he uses careful control of light to create an image filled with drama and emotion.

In this fashion photography class we cover the following:

  • Set creation from start to finish
  • How to make efficient use of time
  • The development and evolution of an idea
  • The importance of creative direction
  • Creative lighting effects
  • How to work with and balance multiple lights
  • How to use subtle lighting to best effect
  • How to achieve feathered lighting
  • The emotion of light
  • Using simple props to enhance your shot


  1. This module and the preceding module (planning the shoot) are very good. I was very interested to see how you work with the designer (and other staff members) to plan, create and set up the shots. Thanks for showing behind the scenes.

    I am drawn to the stories you tell in the dramatic shots you showcase.

    Do you have a module that explains how you plan out the cost of a shoot? I realize you have a lot of the more expensive parts (space, equipment) but I’d love to learn how the costs of model, dresses, stylist, makeup etc are factored ahead of a shoot. I am an amateur so I tend to ask friends and family but I am reaching a point in my education that I feel like branching out to work with others and wondering how to decide how to estimate the costs.

    1. Hi Derrick, I can email you the usual costs of the various providers but you should also check out the previous live show with guest Daria Belikova, she’s a Russian fashion photographer and explains how she creates her elaborate shoots with mostly collaborations and on a low budget if it is just for her personal work.

      1. That’s a very generous offer and I want to be thoughtful of your time so I will watch the session with Daria first and learn from her. Thanks a lot Karl.

  2. Hi.
    I write from Spain.
    It has emerged me a doubt. I understand that this type of lighting belongs to continuous lighting, instead I see that the broncolor Picolites shoots flahs? Would it be the same if I use PROFOTO SPOT SMALL?
    Thank you

  3. For the background light, what other light modifiers could work in place of the continuous light projector ? For example, a Pulso Spot 4 with Projection Attachment with gobo and color gel ? Or a flooter or a Para in defocused position with gel ?

    1. Hi, Pulso Spot 4 with projection attachement would seem to make the most sense with gels as it would be the most similar to what I had but without testing it I couldn’t be sure.

  4. Awesome job, the door effect, the knife at the end, the whole idea is a 5 stars, you inspired me years back in your old studio and till now, great work keep up. 🙂

  5. She really came to life when you gave her a story to inhabit! Love it. I really love the drama from the shadow/silhouette. I wonder if you considered just having her shadow in the image or separating her and her shadow somewhat to emphasise that? Great stuff.

  6. Thats some creative thinking and putting that thought into a beautful finish.
    Love the work expelling the lights in the room.
    the model did a lovely job also helping the images come to life with her expressions.

  7. I’ve realized that I had a big smile on my face watching these beautiful images, Karl. You’re a true artist.

  8. Wow!! Karl, what can I write, I love this!!! This shoot has given me more assurance that I want to do fashion and learn to think outside the box and be a bit more adaptive on set. The clarity of your instructions to the model and your thought process is excellent to watch. I have been away from photography for a month or so but watching this video has inspired me to shoot again. Thank you.

  9. This video I really enjoyed. Not only the creative lighting technique, but the story telling in the images. This sparked several ideas for me to try and play with, that alone gives this video 5 stars.

  10. Congrat’s to KT’s Team, your video skills are getting amazing !! It’s a pleasure to watch those videos !!


  11. Looks amazing and you make it look so easy and professional. How did you keep the knife from reflecting the light back to the camera was it the angle you used?

  12. Wow! amazing to see how it went from building the stage and sketches to the final image!, also great to see how your entire team works together even the final video with the suspense music, it felt like watching a movie. great job guys

  13. it was a joy to watch. lighting set just outstanding . model was class she had that look . it was all just outstanding well done again a very fine work top class
    frank garvan

  14. Hi Karl,

    Love this cloak and dagger theme! Despite their size, those Picolites have more than enough punch for a full length fashion photo. This caught me by surprise; I guess I am just accustomed to seeing them used on up close product photography. This is an exciting and informative new course; can’t wait to see more!

    1. Hi Peter, yes they are capable of 1600J maximum power. Which means if they are the only light plugged into a Scoro pack that you don’t put it to full power otherwise that will be one stop too much!

    1. Hi Nicholas, that is very kind of you to say so, thank you very much. I have to say that I believe my work and style has grown in the last 10 years the most and I put this down to changing my perception of what I thought possible and trying to visualise as much as possible first and then simply trying to find solutions to make those visualisations work. For example this image started as an idea, a sketch and then weeks of mulling it over on how I was going to do it, followed by several hours of testing as you saw here. Obviously the necessary tools were needed as was the set, but in the end this was essentially a two light set up.

  15. Wow! Amazing process and beautiful results (as always)!

    Can’t imagine coordinating all the pieces of a puzzle like this when locally FedEx does not even show up half the time! If I commissioned those dresses they would show up three days late and delivered half a mile away! On the other hand it is easy to find a woman with a knife in her hand – that is date-night in West Texas.

    1. Ha Ha, I’m not sure if I should laugh or cry, date night doesn’t sound too appealing! :/ If it’s any consolation we have the same problems with DHL, Fedex etc so we just order the stuff way in advance!

  16. Thanks Karl, it is just as you mentioned on your first marathon four hour live show. A photographer must; know their stuff, think on their feet, solve problems, be flexible and think outside of the box. Wow. QED!

  17. Lovely, lovely. It is really interesting to hear you develop your thinking and ideas as you light and shoot.
    I would love to hear what motivated/triggered the thought to move from a sophisticated, beautiful and confident Kariss to the caught-in-the-act killer Kariss. However, it’s still a brilliant image.

    1. Hi Ted, that’s a very interesting question as it wasn’t part of my original concept. What happened was when I asked Kariss to face the wall to try an alternative pose, I perceived the expression of the pose as if she was trying to hide or forming contact with the wall for security. Then came the idea of her turning in surprise to the ‘car headlights’ or ‘opening door’ and from there I expanded the idea on the spot from fear into a more sinister expression of beauty and psychosis and then added the weapon. This part was formulated during the process and actually came about from my emotion of being ‘in the set’ with the model and the lighting and following my feelings.

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