Dramatic Short-Light for Boudoir with Lindsay Adler

It can be said over and over, but every time an amazing photograph is published and it's learned that it's a one light portrait, jaws continue to drop. That's definitely the case with this demonstration from Lindsay Adler shooting boudoir!


Lindsay's goal here is to use one light and one reflector to create a short-lit portrait with a little fill on the back-end of our model. This will give the image mystery and drama with the model's natural curves instead of blasting the viewer with an image of nothing but the model in lingerie on a dark background.

To start the image, first we start with the one source of light we can control with precision, a speedlight. Modifying the speedlight with a Rogue FlashBender 2 XL Pro Lighting System (Soft Box Diffusion Panel attached) we'll place it on the subject's right side so that our subject is closer to the camera than the light. This placement allows the light to fall primarily on one side of the subject with only a little bit of light falling on parts of her body that the camera can see.

The Rogue FlashBender 2 XL Pro System with the Soft Box Diffusion Panel attached will prevent light from hitting the background and illuminating it and also diffuse the light on the subject so it isn't hitting the ceiling and reducing the amount of any specular highlights that may occur.

Placement is important depending on the look a photographer's seeking. Lindsay demonstrates in the video above using the DoF button on her camera in order to find the position of the speedlight that provides her with Rembrandt Lighting, a technique that faces the subject's shadow side towards the camera illuminating a small triangle of light on their cheek.

After our main light is set up, we should bring in a little fill on our model's back side. Using a Rogue 32" Super Soft Silver Collapsible Reflector, we can be efficient with reflecting light back, but not so much light that it produces a harsh specular light.

Reflector placement needs to compliment our main speedlight's placement, by positioning it facing away from the main light, it is possible for the reflector to throw light the wrong way. Keep in mind light travels in a straight line and by determining the position of the main light, most of the time (not all of the time) the reflector should be opposite of that main light.

We also don't want to have the reflector throwing light all over the front of our subject. Remember in the beginning when we wanted to keep the mystery and drama? Let's stick with that, instead of allowing the reflector to throw light back on to the front of our subject, place it in a position so that we're skimming light on the back of her arms, shoulders, and bottom. This gives us nice accents of light throughout the shadow side, but not too much.

With the right placement, a single speedlight, and a reflector, even on-the-go photographers can produce intimate, dramatic, and beautiful boudoir images for clients!

Final Images:

Lindsay Adler
Lindsay Adler


Lindsay Adler is a professional portrait and fashion photographer based in New York City. Her editorial work has appeared in numerous fashion and photography publications internationally. A clean, bold and graphic style has become the hallmark of her work, making her in-demand for clients across the world. Lindsay is also a world renowned educator, author and sought after speaker.

2 Responses

Scott Clark
Scott Clark

July 05, 2016

Great shots!!! New at using a flash….can you give me an idea of what your camera settings were….or what you would recommend as a starting point…..thanks so much….

Lyndsay Styles
Lyndsay Styles

July 04, 2016

This has been so helpful. Really impressed with your results. Thank you so much.

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