Beauty Shoot for “Citizen K” Magazine “How Did I Do it?”

Recently, I received an e-mail from someone who saw my image on my introduction page of my blog, asking “… How did you do it?” I will not include what he speculated, which was actually quite close.

For those of you wishing to participate, I would like you to tell me, what you think I did. I will eventually tell you all the technique I employed for this particular beauty photography  shoot for Citizen K International.

So, go ahead and tell me what your impressions are. Post your answer on the Forum and on my Blog. That way, everyone who has participated can see all of the responses.



So, here is the lighting set up for the shot.

A 4 bulb Kino Flo Light, lit from below with a white shoot through diffuser.

An Opalight diffuser on a Profoto flash head shooting down at around 60 degrees and around 1 meter above and 2 meters back from the model.

Two Profoto bare bulb flash heads, one on either side of the model at around 100 degrees just slightly off the 90 degree axis of the model.

Two HMI 1.2 Kilo Cinema Lights for the backdrop, shooting down to achieve the gradation.

Full Blue Gelatins on all of the flash sources and a Midnight Blue Gelatin on the HMI’s using a Blue Backdrop.

Shot with a Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 Lens at f25.0 at 1/8th of a second & a good old Canon 20D.

Converted to B&W in Photoshop.


About Benjamin Kanarek

Fashion and Beauty Photographer. Some of the magazines I have shot for include: VOGUE (China, Portugal, Brazil, Italia, Paris and South America & Mexico editions), RG VOGUE Brazil, Harper’s BAZAAR (China, en Español & Latin America, Hong Kong, Italy editions), L’Officiel Paris, ELLE (Spain, Portugal and Greece editions), Madame Figaro (France), Cosmopolitan (France and Italy editions), Glamour (France), Votre Beauté, Jardin des Modes, Dépêche Mode, New York Daily News, Fashion District News, New York Times Magazine, W (British edition), WWD, Fashion Magazine (Canada), Flare (Canada), Oyster, Tank, WestEast…

  • Jenny

    Nice work! May I ask what was the reason that you used blue gel on all the light sources, including backdrop?  Does that enhance the B&W treatment? or is it for ease of white balancing?

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Benjamin Kanarek Blog » Beauty Shoot for “Citizen K” Magazine “How Did I Do It?” --

  • Benjamin Kanarek


    No. That hard line around the shoulders was accomplished using a slow shutter speed of around 1/4 to 1/8th of a second. Actually the model is at least 2.5 meters in front of the backdrop. Using blue gels, as it has an effect on the conversion to B&W.

  • Jens Langen

    I just have to ask…
    Did the lower fill light create that tight dark shadow above her shoulders?
    If so then the background must have been really close and I’m wondering how
    your background lights managed to reach the background. And why the blue gels? Did this help achieve your B&W effect, or did you want it to be a blue colour shot that you later converted to B&W?
    Questions, questions….
    But I have to say the photos are inspiring!

  • Benjamin Kanarek


    A well deserved compliment none the less. 🙂

  • Ben

    Thx for compliment. I am trying to update it. Hopefully soon!

  • jon

    my two cents:

    – ringlight high, centered with the camera axis, the ringlight was slighlty front the girl vertical axis and aimed more at hair
    -reflector down to reflect some light on the eyes and torso
    – two sided light with reflector, maybe gridded?
    – the light in the background come from reflector and ringlight.

  • Daniel

    Beyond the BD above camera, reflector below, and 2 rim lights behind, I wonder whether you have not also dragged the shutter a little bit to create the black hedge around the shoulders?

  • roentarre

    Seriously good here and your blog is now looking so fabulous! I have been inactive for some months. Reading your blog really broadens my perspective and knowledge base

  • joe

    I think you washed her hair and left it slightly wet and then used a defuser on your flash

  • Patrick Fatigati

    I’ll give it a try. It seems you used three lights to light her face.

    1- Main light: The ”raccoon eyes”, along with the shadows under her nose and neck indicate that your the light was located high above her head, angled about 45 degrees, aligned with the camera axis. The specular highlights on her hair indicate the light quality was soft, and that the modifier was of good relative size, so perhaps a large softbox?

    2- Rim lights: The highlights on both sides of her face tell me you used one light on each side, angled at about 90degrees to the model’s face. Perhaps they were gridded, to keep the light from going on her shoulders?

    As for the background, it looks like it could have been lit by the main light.

    If I could see her eyes better, I could definitely tell you what main light you used 😉 Looking forward to knowing what the real setup was.

    Very fine work btw!

  • – Beauty Dish, Small Octa or perhaps a softbox (w/ grid) above model for Butterfly lighting
    – Two lights w/ Tight Grids on the models flanks slightly feathered to provide the side lighting.

  • Outstanding work by you and your team (as always)! I think the rest of the crew hit the nail on the head as far as lighting.

    Love & Bass

  • Erez Avraham

    love this look, i think its a BD above, reflector and 2 lights on the sides. maybe even a hair light

  • 5 lights.

    2 hairs lights, one on either side of the model above and to the rear.

    2 rim lights, about even with the neck and to the rear and sides of the model.

    1 large light overhead the model, perhaps a beauty dish or medium softbox.

    a fill card below to open up the shadows.

  • @:

    Leo, I just had a look at your website and all I can say is, Bravo! I am truly impressed…

  • I’m guessing

    1 beauty dish or ringlight from above and slightly behind the model with a reflector to bounce light back onto her torso
    1 snootted strobe on either side from behind and approx 45 degree pointed towards her for the side hilites.

    Maybe some post work to bring the eyes back a little.

  • First : those shots rocks.

    Second : Besides an awesome team, like amazing an amazing stylist and awesome make-up artist, I’m thinking of :

    For the lightning :
    – Front beauty dish (slightly in the top of the model, so you can loose the catchlight in the eye)
    – A white reflector under the model
    – 2 strong backlights faced to the model for her cheek/neck. I’m thinking bowls without grid ?