My photography and lighting equipment for beauty portraits: MyRingLight Dimmable Fluorescent Ring Light, Aluminum adjustable lighting stand, Vello RS-C211 Wired Remote, Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 lens
Since “How do you take your makeup photos?” is one of my most frequently asked questions, I finally put together some behind the scenes shots of my very simple setup. When it comes to photographing makeup, hair tutorials, or anything involving a self portrait, I usually prefer to use natural, diffused lighting — preferably somewhere indoors, facing a window. But since I live in Brooklyn, where much of the natural light is blocked by shadowy buildings, that isn’t always an option. That’s why I invested in lenses that perform in low light (the lower the f-stop, the larger the aperture = the more light it lets in), and additional lighting. But while our studio is stocked with different types of lights, backdrops, and accessories, I often turn to the most affordable and easy to use light in the bunch, when photographing beauty tutorials: my ring light. I actually own two ring lights: one strobe and one continuous, but I use the continuous much more. It’s the easiest thing to set up, is extremely lightweight and portable (though fragile), and Miku could probably figure out how to use it, if she put her puppy mind to it. All you have to do is turn it on, set your camera accordingly, and take the picture. It’s just one light, so it’s that easy — and since it’s continuous, it’s also perfect for video.
Ring lights are a great one-light setup for portraits, because they cast minimal shadows, giving just a slight halo effect around the subject (which can be eliminated with a fill light, if that bothers you). You’ll also notice the reflection of the rings in my eyes, in the final photos — this effect is greater with the light close to the subject. For my self portraits, I normally shoot with a prime Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 lens mounted on my Canon EOS 5D Mark III. I stand fairly close to the ring light (as demonstrated above), but keep the camera on a separate tripod, a little further behind the light. Since I’m so close to the camera and the remote doesn’t show — as it would in an outfit photo, for instance — I prefer to use a wired remote, which is immediately recognized. If you’re looking to elevate your beauty photography or video setup for your blog or youtube, I highly recommend investing in a ring light, but you do not need to rush out and buy a full frame digital SLR and expensive lens. Even if you’re shooting on a point and shoot or even an iPhone, this light will make a big difference. Case in point: this photo of Miku was taken with my iPhone and a ring light.