Stunning Two-Light Beauty Set

Karl demonstrates all you need to know to capture incredible beauty images with just two studio lights. The setup he demonstrates is simple but effective.

As Karl walks you through his shooting process, he starts with a simple background light before positioning his key light and adjusting its power settings. He goes on to explain why positioning the camera, subject and lights correctly is crucial.

In this portrait photography class:

  • Studio Lighting: How to set up multiple studio lights
  • Two-light setup for beauty photography
  • Basic modifiers for studio lighting
  • How to control light in a small studio
  • Portrait photography tips


  1. Hi Karl,

    I tried to copy the set up in my home studio
    and encountered a problem that I hope you
    might be able to resolve for me.

    I positioned the backlight with a medium grid
    about half a meter away from the background
    and positioned the model about half a meter
    in front of the backlight.

    The backdrop is dark gray, muslin material.

    When I take a shot of the model just to make
    sure the light comes up at and around the shoulders
    like it does in your video, everything works fine.

    However, when I turn on the key light, which is
    a rectangluar softbox, the backdrop gets a blueish
    tone of colour.

    Can you explain to me whay that happens and
    how to correct it?

    Many thanks/Ralph

      1. Hi Karl,

        Many thanks for your super fast reply.

        Actually the the problem arose when
        I put the model in fron tof the backlight.
        Without the model the backdrop was
        grey with a nice gradation even with
        the key light.

        However, you pointed out something
        which I overlooked. In trying out what
        you showed in the video, I didn’t take
        into account that you are using a wider
        softbox than I did. So obviously it has
        to come closer to the model.

        I will try it out again tomorrow.

        And yes I have watched your video on
        the inverse square law – twice – but for
        some reason I overlooked it this time.

        Will get back to you.


  2. Hey Karl,

    I like the content but it’s quite frustrating with all of the back and forth manually adjusting the power of the lights. Why not just setup your lights on groups (group 1 = Key, group 2 = Fill, Group 3 = BG) for example and then because you are using the standard Elinchrom transmitter that you can just adjust the power to individual lights with 1 click = 1/10th stop. Or just get a Elinchrom EL-Skyport so you can see the power of your lights on your transmitter. Much more efficient. Just a thought and it will save a LOT of time in your videos so energy can be focused on instruction vs adjustments.

  3. Karl.. I notice you almost always use a ladder to gain a 10-40 cm height over the eye line of the model. Obviously, nothing is universal, and the resulting slightly top down angle creates great results. Do you have anything more to add to this point other than it being a great angle?

    1. Hi, I find often on beauty shots (upper body to head shots) that I’m either at models eye line or above it. For me that just works, the eyes open up a bit and it just looks a bit more fresh. However that’s not always the case. On fashion shots they are usually 3/4 to full length and I’m shooting from lower to make the model look more imposing and powerful. We have a big series of new fashion and beauty shots coming over the next 12 months or so where you will see these variations.

    1. Hi Shana, in this shoot and most head shots I shoot from slightly above. In fashion shots I often shoot from below to make the model and clothes look more empowering.

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