How I Got The Shot: Gel Colors

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Some of my beauty work was created with NIKON D610 and my old-friend lens 85mm 1.8. In this blog, I would like to share about Concept & Styling, Lighting Setup, Colors, Posing and Retouching. Let's get started.

Concept & Styling

The concept behind this photo-shoot is bold and vivid color in model's face which intersect each others to create interested patterns. My photos are inspired by an awesome work of Lindsay Adler and Jaques Bagios who used color gels very creatively on models' faces. However, I want to create a series of images without involving the obvious edges of Rosco gels in the frame; also, I want to see more contrast and sharpness. Regarding styling, I simply have a model wearing a black strapless bra to keep it simple. I chose black to avoid any reflection from the material.


The lighting of this photo-shoot is very simple, I use one Elinchrom strobe with grid on. I place the strobe above model's head and 45 degree angle, which is high enough to get catch light in model's eyes and create Rembrandt lighting effect on her face (ONE OF MY FAVORITE LIGHTING EFFECT).

Feel free to be creative with Beauty Dish if you want softer beauty photos or having hair light, background light, etc. Lighting is simply Fun to play with.


Posing is the most essential element of the whole photo-shoot and needless to say, my UK friend model Natasha killed it. If you're new photographer like me, saving lots of posing reference in advance is a must. I always make sure I have at least 10 references before heading to studio.


I always arrive 30 minutes to 1 hour before the photo-shoot for catering, preparation and setting. Basically, I want to make sure I am ready before everybody arrives. So, I can spend time talking with models, make-up artist rather than focusing on preparing lighting and making the whole studio silent. Remember to prepare music, sometimes you never know what music can do. Energy is very important, so I make sure everybody in my team feels that on the photo-shoot.

After the make-up session is finished, I always spend 10 minutes to make sure this list of things are ready:

  1. is my lighting right?
  2. is my model comfortable?
  3. is the make-up match with my lighting?
  4. am I shooting tether?

I am type of person who can't focus on many things at the same time. So I make sure everything is right before pressing my camera's button.

For the gel colors, I use the Rosco Gels Effects Filter Kit and apply Complementary Colors theory to mix gels together. I ask my MUA Denise to hold the gels near Natasha (model) and thanks to awesome tethering, we keep changing and fixing the position of gels until we got the best shots.


My retouching flow is simple: Basic Clean, Dodge&Burn and Frequency Separation. You can find the final photos below: