Soft reflec­tor, beau­ty dish, beau­ty dish are the names of one mod­i­fi­er. With it, you can empha­size the tex­ture of the skin, fea­tures of the face, fig­ure. Beau­ty dish is used when shoot­ing make­up, hair­styles, jew­el­ry. We will talk about how to use a beau­ty dish and what it is in this mate­r­i­al.

A soft reflec­tor will help you cre­ate a beau­ti­ful por­trait for a fash­ion shoot. Pho­to: adorama.com

beau­ty dish design
What is the dif­fer­ence between a beau­ty dish for pho­tog­ra­phy and a reg­u­lar reflec­tor
What size beau­ty dish to choose
Beau­ty dish or soft­box — which is bet­ter
Beau­ty Dish Acces­sories
How to take a beau­ti­ful pho­to with a beau­ty dish
Shoot­ing with a beau­ty dish in the stu­dio — 4 set­tings
How to posi­tion a beau­ty dish when shoot­ing out­doors
Is it pos­si­ble to make a beau­ty dish with your own hands

beauty dish design

The beau­ty dish looks like a large bowl with a recess. Beau­ty dish sizes:

— up to 40–41 cm — they are bought for ama­teur film­ing or in small pho­to stu­dios;
— up to 55–56 cm — the most com­mon size. A uni­ver­sal option that is suit­able for pro­fes­sion­al and ama­teur shoot­ing of objects of dif­fer­ent sizes;
— up to 68–70 cm — suit­able for large stu­dios, shoot­ing group por­traits and large objects.

You can find an option with a diam­e­ter of up to 85 cm. But this size is very rarely used. It is need­ed to illu­mi­nate a large area. For exam­ple, in the pho­to below, it was required to illu­mi­nate the entire scene, a pow­er­ful pulsed light source was need­ed.

An exam­ple of using a beau­ty dish with a diam­e­ter of 85 cm. Pho­to: blog.mola-light.com

What is the difference between a beauty dish for photography and a regular reflector

Larg­er diam­e­ter (for stan­dard ones usu­al­ly up to 40 cm). There is one more detail in the cen­ter (deflec­tor). This is a dif­fuser that is need­ed to dis­trib­ute the light from the flash through­out the reflec­tor.

The shape of the mod­i­fi­er is deep, the rays are direct­ed. You can more clear­ly dis­trib­ute the light by plac­ing hon­ey­combs on top of the beau­ty dish. For their fas­ten­ing, a bor­der is made on the sides of the device.

Why is the dish light soft? Each object in the com­po­si­tion is illu­mi­nat­ed from dif­fer­ent points. The shad­ows are not hard, but soft. This is an ana­logue of light­ing on a cloudy day, when the rays are not hard and straight. They refract, pass through the clouds, illu­mi­nate the object from dif­fer­ent angles.

On the left is a reg­u­lar reflec­tor, on the right is a beau­ty dish. Pho­to: ledil.com, gadgetdiscount.ru

What size beauty dish to choose

Focus on the request.

1. If you need a pow­er­ful source of soft light in a large stu­dio where group pho­tos will be tak­en, you can take a large option with a diam­e­ter of up to 68–70 cm.
2. If you need a plate for shoot­ing in a small stu­dio, you can lim­it your­self to a mod­el with a small diam­e­ter of up to 40–41 cm.
3. If there is no spe­cif­ic goal and you want a uni­ver­sal option, it is bet­ter to take a mod­i­fi­er with a diam­e­ter of up to 55–56 cm.

The larg­er the beau­ty dish, the clos­er it stands to the object, the soft­er the light it gives. Keep this in mind when choos­ing a beau­ty dish.

A large beau­ty dish is worth buy­ing if you have a large stu­dio. Pho­to: adorama.com

How to under­stand that the stu­dio is small enough for the min­i­mum diam­e­ter of the dish?

The human head is about 30 cm high. If you add the shoul­ders and chest to this, then no more than 1 meter will come out. To shoot such a por­trait with a 50mm lens, and tak­ing into account the dis­tance, the stu­dio should be about 2x2 m in size. Equip­ment with a diam­e­ter of 40 cm will be enough for it.

An aver­age plate will be need­ed if the room is 4x5 m or larg­er. It is log­i­cal to buy large soft reflec­tors with a diam­e­ter of 68 cm or more only for a stu­dio with an area of ​​40 sq. m. and more.

Beauty dish or softbox — which is better

Each light mod­i­fi­er per­forms its role, is used in dif­fer­ent cas­es. Beau­ty dish cre­ates a light that is some­where between a direct flash and a soft­box in terms of strength and dif­fuse­ness.

There­fore, you need to select a mod­i­fi­er specif­i­cal­ly for the idea.

A soft­box dif­fers from a beau­ty dish in terms of shape, size, and soft­ness of light. Pho­to: oehling.cz

Like beau­ty dish­es, soft­box­es vary in size. They come in dif­fer­ent shapes (square, rec­tan­gle). The shape affects the light cov­er­age, the soft­ness of the light.

1. Beau­ty dish is need­ed for por­trait, fash­ion pho­tog­ra­phy.
2. The soft­box is suit­able for food, ani­mal, still life pho­tog­ra­phy. It is also used to cre­ate the “scat­tered win­dow” effect used by por­trait painters.

Beauty Dish Accessories


Need­ed if you want to nar­row the beam of light that comes from the plate. The result is a spot­light effect.

Por­trait plate with hon­ey­comb. Pho­to: 999.md

Gel filters

These col­or fil­ters are used to tone shad­ows and back­grounds. Attach them to the reflec­tor on a spe­cial adhe­sive tape. If you do not use it, then when the equip­ment is heat­ed, they will peel off. When work­ing, you need to remem­ber one caveat — the fil­ter should be 5–7 cm wider than the plate. Oth­er­wise, white light will break through the sides.

How to take a beautiful photo with a beauty dish

  • Impor­tant: the mod­i­fi­er will high­light skin irreg­u­lar­i­ties and flaws. There­fore, a beau­ty dish is rec­om­mend­ed for mod­els with per­fect skin.
  • The qual­i­ty of the hair and make-up plays an impor­tant role. Dirty shad­ows, crum­bled mas­cara, hasti­ly done styling will be imme­di­ate­ly vis­i­ble. It is use­ful to find a good make­up artist and hair­dress­er who will make the look per­fect.
  • It is bet­ter to install a soft reflec­tor on a stu­dio light stand in order to move the light with­out dif­fi­cul­ty.
  • First you need to set up the beau­ty dish itself. And then add light sources. For exam­ple, back­ground, behind the object.

Shooting with a beauty dish in the studio — 4 settings

One soft reflector and reflector

The most com­mon method of shoot­ing por­traits with a beau­ty dish. Step one is to place the mod­el. The sec­ond step is to install the soft reflec­tor. You need to put it clear­ly above the mod­el’s face, slight­ly tilt­ing down. The cen­ter of the plate should be above the fore­head.

You need soft light. There­fore, the dish is placed close to the sub­ject (dis­tance of about 50 cm). The high­light should be at the top of the mod­el’s eyes.

Soft reflec­tor and light reflec­tor. Pho­to: freephotoschool.vsite.biz

The reflec­tor is placed under the chin. This is nec­es­sary so that the light is reflect­ed back onto the per­son­’s face. The tech­nique will allow you to remove the max­i­mum of shad­ows on the neck, add a high­light to the low­er part of the eyes. You can adjust the amount of light by mov­ing the reflec­tor clos­er to the mod­el or fur­ther away from it.

Addi­tion­al­ly, you can set the back­ground light to high­light the sub­ject. Or put a black V‑Flat pan­el or flag. It will help cre­ate a deep tex­tur­al back­ground.

The main dif­fi­cul­ty is to place the cam­era between the plate and the reflec­tor. And this is not always con­ve­nient.

Two light sources

This scheme is sim­i­lar to the pre­vi­ous one, but has one dif­fer­ence. Instead of a reflec­tor, a monoblock is used. It is placed under the sub­ject, point­ing upwards. This design is more per­fect than the pre­vi­ous one. In this case, you can con­trol the pow­er of light and shad­ows.

Shoot­ing a por­trait with a soft reflec­tor and an addi­tion­al light source. Pho­to: adorama.com


Such a device made of dif­fu­sion mate­r­i­al is often sold as a set with a beau­ty dish. The acces­so­ry makes the light on the face of the mod­el soft­er, removes shiny spots from the skin. You can place it as in the pre­vi­ous cas­es — just above the mod­el. So that the light falls on the face.

The dif­fuser makes the light soft­er. Pho­to: adorama.com

Shooting with honeycombs

The beau­ty dish should be placed above the sub­ject and tilt­ed slight­ly. The hon­ey­comb grid focus­es the beam, cre­at­ing the illu­sion of a spot­light. Impor­tant: the ret­i­cle must point direct­ly at the object. Oth­er­wise, the light will fall on the face incor­rect­ly.

Reg­u­lar beau­ty dish and hon­ey­comb soft reflec­tor. Pho­to: distudio78.ru

How to position a beauty dish when shooting outdoors

It is more con­ve­nient to use a soft reflec­tor out­doors than a soft­box. This is a more com­pact light mod­i­fi­er. And unlike an umbrel­la, it does not “catch­es” gusts of wind.

Umbrel­la is anoth­er mod­i­fi­er. It can be of dif­fer­ent sizes, with a dif­fer­ent num­ber of knit­ting nee­dles. Sil­ver is need­ed to cre­ate con­trast­ing, hard light­ing. And white is for soft, nat­ur­al, dif­fused light.

Out­doors, the beau­ty dish can be used as a main or fill light. You can place it on top of the object or at a dif­fer­ent angle. For exam­ple, at 45 degrees. It all depends on the time of day, the lev­el of light­ing and the desired result.

Is it possible to make a beauty dish with your own hands

Yes. But it is not used as pro­fes­sion­al equip­ment. Max­i­mum — as an exper­i­men­tal device for home shoot­ing.

An ana­logue of a large plate can be made for a flash. For this you need:

  • 2 dis­pos­able plates made of porous plas­tic;
  • 2 tooth­picks;
  • foil;
  • dou­ble sided tape.
You can make a beau­ty dish with your own hands as a home exper­i­ment. Pho­to: fotopoisk.com.ua

One plate must be put on the flash, form­ing an ana­logue of a soft reflec­tor (a bowl around a light source). You need to cut a hole for the flash in the cen­ter of one of the plates and insert the flash into the slot. From the sec­ond plate you need a bot­tom. On one side, it is cov­ered with foil. For this, dou­ble-sided tape is used.

A cir­cle with foil on both sides must be pierced with tooth­picks, attached to a large plate before flash­ing. The flash should face the side with the foil. There should be gaps between the edges of the inner dish, the flash and the edges of the out­er dish.

Such a prim­i­tive beau­ty dish will help you exper­i­ment at home. But to cre­ate high-qual­i­ty and pro­fes­sion­al images, it is bet­ter to buy real equip­ment.

Noz­zles for stu­dio light: what are and how to use. Detailed guide

Impulse and con­stant: a guide and light­ing schemes for begin­ners in the stu­dio

Light schemes and tech­niques in a pho­to stu­dio: options for cre­ative exper­i­ments


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