What is a Beauty Dish?
A Beauty Dish is a circular parabolic photography lighting modifier that features a deflector plate in the centre, the goal of which is to reflect light to the sides and prevent direct light from hitting the subject. Traditionally made out of metal, the effect of the beauty dish’s design provides flattering soft yet dramatic light to the subject being photographed.
Why use a Beauty Dish?
Beauty dishes are used predominantly in fashion photography due to the flattering type of light it focuses on the face of a model. With its round shape, any reflections in the eyes of a model will be circular in shape, providing attractive catch lighting that is very desirable in the industry. The shape of the beauty dish wraps light around the subject, giving the shot more contrast and bringing out more detail, effectively sculpting the face and emphasizing the ‘beauty’ of the subject.
For the same reasons as with fashion photography, beauty dishes are also used in sports photography. The wrapping light provided highlights specific details on the subject, such as certain parts of the body (muscles etc) and sweat.
A Quick Buyer’s Guide – What to look for
When choosing a beauty light there are a number of considerations worth noting before you buy:
Silver or White Interior
The first decision to make is whether you want a white lined or silver interior. The main difference between these is that a silver one will reflect light, whereas a white one will bounce light. Depending on what kind of lighting you’re trying to achieve, a white or silver lined interior will be preferable. Silver will reflect light more directly putting more focus on the subject bringing out the finer details. The white interior by comparison diffuses the light and won’t be as focused on the detail.
As a general rule of thumb, in photography the larger the lighting modifier the softer the light that is produced. Much like soft boxes, the smaller the beauty dish the harder the light it provides. Beauty dishes typically come in a 60cm diameter up to the larger size of 100cm diameter. Bear in mind the space these will take up when factoring them in to your studio.
This leads us into the convenience of transporting the dishes. There are two main types – metal and folding beauty dishes. Metal ones tend to be delicate, made out of thin metal and require a bulky protective case when transporting. However, when you arrive at the shoot the dish is already together so there is no set up. Conversely, the folding beauty dishes are far more compact and are more easily carried around. Our folding beauty dishes require minimal set up and can be assembled and disassembled within a minute.
To give you more control over your lighting, it’s worth checking out whether the beauty dish comes with a honeycomb grid. When installed on the beauty dish it helps focus and better angle the light, reducing light spill. As you decrease the light spread with a honeycomb grid, the light contrast will increase.