Beauty Dish on Horses

Who said that beauty dish is for beauty shots?

Although this phrase might sound a wordplay, it is true that some equipments are specifics for certain tasks.


The “beauty dish” - or softlight reflector, as Profoto more technically call it - is a light modifier that, applied to a strobe (studio lighting), creates a unique lighting patter, enhancing facial features, make-up and hairstyling with a pristine, natural look. Hence is perfect for beauty photography.

I often use it for my fashion & beauty shots… with gorgeous models.

The following photos show actual set up and final images from one of my studio beauty shoot.

But what about using the beauty dish in a more exciting and unconventional way?

Joining my unstoppable draw to experimentation with Strawberry’s passion for horses, time ago I started to use this “beauty tool” on my equestrian photography as well.

Most recent shoot of this genre, which I called “Proud Horse Portraits” is the one we did few months ago for Vinny, Florence and Blue, three beautiful horses owned by Miss Kayley Lanston.

Every production on location is always a challenge, but having as models three four-footed friends is definitely something that require extra attention and a careful planning.

On a first reconnaissance on location in the Kent countryside we selected the best spots where to shoot, outside the stables and in front of an old barn nearby.

The following task has been to define the lighting setup, which I sketched and shared with the team, making everybody aware of what we were going to arrange on set.

On the day of the shoot the whole team knew what to do. Therefore all the preparations on and off-set went smoothly and we have been able to respect our schedule, keeping focused and enjoying our job.

On the main set, the beauty dish (on Profoto B1 strobe) was the key light, whose main task was to enhance shape and features of horse’s heads thanks to its even light, crisp definition and contrast.

Another strobe with 6’x1’ strip softbox gave fill light, illuminating the whole horse’s body (which is big!). A third strobe with wide zoom reflector was placed to the side/back to give rim lighting to the horse’s rear.

A blue gel on the fill light gave some additional mood, enhancing the natural hue of the metal fence in the background.

I can assure you that is not easy to keep an horse in position, when lighting is specifically calibrated and we want to achieve a very precise look.

Although it took a good time, many shots and the best horse handling skills by Kayley and Strawberry, we finally made it!

We also managed to get Kayley ready with make-up, hair and dress and to let her model along her beloved Vinny… a gorgeous couple indeed!


photography & production :: Marco Joe Fazio

creative director & horse handler :: Strawberry Love

make-up artist & hair stylist :: Stefania Paci

assistant photographer :: Oliver Spier

models :: Kayley Lanston, Vinny, Florence & Blue