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Max Field

Lighting Female Talent

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Is there a different approach I should be taking when lighting a girl as opposed to a guy? I mostly work with actors and I like how my lighting comes out, but I'm not sure if there's different approaches which should be taken when it comes to rendering the female face.

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Ive had the honor of lighting two very demanding ladies.., lighting wise anyway....  Glen Close.. (checked with mirrors !) and Beyonce .. mass entourage looking  at the monitors and coming out with total bollocks re lighting..   I had pre lit  them the same as I  would anyone else ..  which, if I say so myself is fairly competent ..

Point of the story, in both cases.. I was forced to light them with  probably the worst lighting I have ever done.. large Kino Flo lights completely surround the lens..  the biggest (square) donut light ever.. flat flat flat !! they, and massed flunkies , didn't want to see even the remote suggestion of a shadow ..anywhere on their boat race..   really crap lighting.. 

Just to warn you.. 

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17 minutes ago, Robin R Probyn said:

 I was forced to light them with  probably the worst lighting I have ever done.. large Kino Flo lights completely surround the lens..  the biggest (square) donut light ever.. flat flat flat !! they, and massed flunkies , didn't want to see even the remote suggestion of a shadow ..anywhere on their boat race..   really crap lighting.. 

Just to warn you.. 

Interesting you say that as it's taught me the business origins of footage which influenced me.
I would watch many interviews and music videos of mega music and TV stars and Kino was extremely abundant. The double 4-bank right on the talent to kill all shadows is my go-to when I'm trying to make someone look as photogenic as possible. Despise the divaring and donut lights personally.

I should post some stills from this project I'm working on to see how photographer's art versus model's insecurities compete with one another.

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2 minutes ago, Max Field said:

Interesting you say that as it's taught me the business origins of footage which influenced me.
I would watch many interviews and music videos of mega music and TV stars and Kino was extremely abundant. The double 4-bank right on the talent to kill all shadows is my go-to when I'm trying to make someone look as photogenic as possible. Despise the divaring and donut lights personally.

I should post some stills from this project I'm working on to see how photographer's art versus model's insecurities compete with one another.

Yeah first time was with Beyonce .. Ive had it before as we all have.. entourage /agents/ PR / Stylists ..what ever flunkies  throwing in their 2 pence looking at the monitor.. usually just to justify their wage.. I sort of mutter something about Rembrandt paintings and they sort of slouch off with their phones .. which is what they want to do anyway .. I did try to stand my ground re having some sort of modeling light and frankly they were pissing me off too.. but I soon realised "they" were expecting me to do what they wanted ..In a much higher league , Ive read a young Haskell Wexler had alot of flax from Richard Burton, about the lighting showing his pock marked skin in Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf.. who wanted him sacked off the film.. !!  

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I had a problem once where our lead actress’s make up artists were standing by monitor, and altering the blocking depending on where they thought she looked best. This was while I was still lighting the scene. In the end, I walked over to the monitors and switched them off. There were a few moments of indignation, then they all stalked off back to their trailer.

If you feel the need to alter your lighting to accommodate an actress, then using a very soft key will usually do the trick. Bring it a little more frontal than you might for a male actor.

if you’re abandoning any attempt at naturalism, then surrounding the lens with light works pretty well.

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My lighting is gender neutral, women aren't  strange aliens that demand a different approach to men. If your shooting narrative with a sense of realism the both men and women are going to be under the same lighting conditions. It starts to look strange if your lighting people in the same scene in different ways based on gender. It was farcical when those 1940's films would wack in a load of diffusion for the leading ladies close up, killing any sense of shot continuity. 

Sure lighting can flatter a subject, e.g using softer frontal key - but again thats not a gender specific rule. Its boring that we have to stick to this  rule that women, on screen must be young with flawless skin and men should be rugged and are allowed to be older. 

Its the same path that results in a team of roto artists painting out Nicole Kidman's wrinkles in Baz Lurhmans Australia. It didn't help the film even if they made her skin little look a bit better.

But I don't work in beauty and have failed to any success in commercials for some reason.

 

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As mentioned, more frontal is better. Could be hard or soft light, but more frontal always looks best for women. If you're ever tempted to "keep it real" and use a more sidey source on women, especially 40+, don't. 

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