Sunlit Shadows Cosmetics Shoot

Cosmetic products come in all shapes, sizes, and textures, so every shoot requires originality and creativity. In this class, Karl experiments with a variety of lighting setups to produce an eye-catching, colourful, graphic arrangement of three Elemis face-care products.

Commercial clients often underestimate the difficulties of shooting variously textured products. In this case, with the the glass Elemis pots catching the light very differently than the highly reflective chrome lids, Karl goes through an extensive trial-and-error process in pursuit of the best dual lighting approach.

First, he tries a number of different key lights to generate the bright sunlight effect. He then reduces shadow density using global fill lighting.

Next, he experiments with different light sources and modifiers – plus some DIY accessories – to apply gradient lighting to the chrome lids.

To solve all of the problems the shoot serves up and help produce the stunning final image, the whole team gets involved. A light gets smashed along the way, but it’s all part of the process!

In this class, you’ll cover how to light mixed surfaces, balance multiple lights, and create interesting compositions using techniques such as depth, colour, light and shadow.

To find out how Karl brought all of this work together in post-production, check out the Photoshop class.

In this class:

  • Styling cosmetic products for photography
  • Lighting setups for cosmetics photography
  • How to use multiple studio lights
  • How to apply dual lighting effects
  • How to create gradient lighting
  • Using fill light to balance shadows
  • How to use a scrim
  • How to use a tilt-shift lens adapter

If you have any questions about this class please post in the comment section below.


  1. An amazing class with a lot of learnings for me, sharing your thinking process is very valuable!
    I am very sorry for the lamp head.
    Many thanks Karl

  2. Question! Do you usually test several different light sources for a shoot like this; trying to make sure the shadows are sharp or feathered, measuring the gradient on the top of the lids, etc? It seems like a lot of time is wasted testing out different lighting techniques, but I wonder if the testing is just for the sake of the tutorial, and in the real world during a commercial shoot like this, you already know what works best so that you can streamline the photoshoot?

    1. Hi, I already know what each on of my lights can do so much of what we do is for the benefit of the audience. But if I’m ever in need of reminding I (or you) can using our lighting comparison App which is on your ‘home page’.

  3. Wow.. did you ever get put through the ringer with that shoot. I lost count of how many shots you were needing to piece it all together. Great result.

  4. Great tips if using pro or other equipment to get the professional look. I have following your work for awhile and I always learn something in working with people, software training, and product photography. Many thanks for offering the courses.

    1. Hi, any good Sign Service company in your area should hold some stock as they use them for signage or you can go directly to any good plastic manufacture or supply company.

  5. OMG. Super big lesson. Lots of successes but also lots of failures. As always in product shoots.
    I loved the result. Maybe the lesson is not long.

    Thank you for every precious suggestion

  6. Instead of using three Pico wouldn’t it have been easier to use the fiber optic rods especially as your’s got three out of one light source?

  7. Great Video, learned many different tips. can you let me know the source for your coloured acrylic sheets?

    1. Hi, Sign Service companies are often the best place as they use lots of coloured acrylics or go directly to plastic suppliers/manufacturers.

    1. Hi, Sign Service companies are often the best place as they use lots of coloured acrylics or go directly to plastic suppliers/manufacturers. These were from Barkston Plastics in the UK.

  8. Karl, listening to your rationale behind each and every decision you made in this highly complex shoot was so valuable to learning. Thank you!

  9. Hi Karl

    Beautiful images as always with an amazing learning experience.

    I’ve wanted to ask you for a while, which boom arms do you use? the ones I have don’t go so far out and don’t hold weight too well.


  10. Loved this one! Sometimes working all these issues out gets so frustrating. Especially if you work out of a small space tripping over all your stands. Watching you work through this methodically was very nice and insightful.
    Thanks for this course Karl & team!

  11. Just finished watching. The title for this video should be “it’s all about problem solving” 😓😓😓 (seems like this one was a really tough one). I learned so much from all of your videos. Thank you and your team!

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