December 2020 // The How-to Edition

Signature White Session | Zsa’nee Gaines


With the signature white session, you don’t need a lot of equipment. To be honest, you only need your camera. This can be photographed with a few different easy setups. For the natural light photographers, you can place your client with their back facing a solid white wall and their face towards a large window. The window light will act as your main light source. Be sure to place them far enough away to avoid any harsh direct sunlight. Remember they are wearing all white. You don’t want to blow out the whites or the highlights. Also, your client should not be directly against the white wall. You don’t want their white clothes to blend in with the white wall behind them. For the photographers that love to use off-camera lighting, this is for you. This is a setup that I use the most. Again, my client’s back is facing a white wall and their face is either towards the window light or to the side of them. Here I have added a one-light setup in front of them. I like to place my light at about a 45-degree angle from my client’s face so the light is not flat. I like to see some sort of dimension in their face. In reality, we are not flat-faced people. I use a softbox to diffuse the light, giving it a softer look and feel. The window light will give that natural appealing look to their natural beauty and I want my off-camera flash to fill in any shadows and give me a crisper look to the image. We can take this setup even further. Let’s say you don’t have a large natural window light source or you want to be a little bit more dramatic and less natural. This is where you would do a two-light or three-light setup. With your client’s back facing the white wall, position two off-camera lights behind your client, one on each side pointed towards the white background at 45 degrees. Your client should be in front of the two lights—make sure they are at a nice distance so that there is no light spilled on them. Again, have your main light in front of them with a large softbox. The backlights are going to make the white wall white and your main light in front will light up your client. The reason to keep your client away from the backlights is to avoid their white clothes blending in with the white background. The light will mesh it all together. I love a shallow depth of field when I’m photographing because I love when my client’s face just pops in the image. I honestly want the background to kind of fade away. I will typically photograph them at F1.8 or F2.8 depending on which lens I am using. Although I love my 70 to 200mm 2.8 lens, my go-to lens for the Signature White session is my 85mm F1.8 Prime. I love this lens for this look. However, don’t be afraid to use a wider lens if you have a smaller space to shoot in and you’re looking to capture their full body. I am a huge fan of all setups. It honestly depends on where I am shooting and who my client is. If I’m in a tight space and the window light is large enough to give enough light without compromising the quality and grain in the image then I will go for a natural light setup. If I have plenty of room to back my client away from the window light then I will add in my off-camera flash and go for it. If I have no window light source at all, I will use my three-light setup to get the look. The goal is to simply just capture her in her beauty no matter where you’re at.

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