What to Keep in Mind When Shooting Hats


I can’t tell you exactly why I’m in love with my Profoto beauty dish, but it probably has something to do with the beautiful shadows it creates and the dramatic lighting that I can easily get with it, like the Rembrandt or Paramount lighting. The reason I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for shooting hats is because hats have brims that get in the way of a light that’s very directional AND placed high above the models face at an angle. I’m guessing I would suggest something broader and softer like an Octabank or a softbox. But I wanted a classic Rembrandt look with this shoot so I went to my go-to standard lighting that I love: the Profoto Beauty dish. I didn’t use the grid but I did place a sock over the dish to help diffuse the light.

This shoot was not for a client, nor did I make any money from it. It was for a friend of mine, Eric Funk, who is a milliner here in Los Angeles. He and his photographer partner Matthias Brandt, have become my surrogate family and it’s these two who have turned those awful family holidays into wickedly blessed affairs in their beautiful Los Angeles hillside home on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Now I actually look forward to the holidays.

Any ways, Eric’s hats are awesome and I wanted to shoot them so I pulled a team together. David Harrington did the hair, keeping it slicked back and creating a bit of an edge with some accessories to keep the hair secondary to the hats, which I think is important when you’re shooting hats to not let the hair compete. Still, you have to have hair styled for these type of shoots and I think he did a great job at keeping it clean and still interesting. Joanne Adolfo did the make up and she did a genius job. I won’t go too much into it but she really did an amazing job on a not so easy shoot.


Another reason I did this shoot was because my agent, Timothy Priano, told me over breakfast one morning that I needed to do some shoots where the make up was flattering to the skin and really glistening. He told me to “get out of the Goth world for a minute” (I love his humor) and make the skin look real and lush. So I knew that Joanne would pull that off and that’s the direction I told her to go in. I just sent him the final images and he emailed me back saying, “looks great, send them to Kimberly at the agency to have her put them on the site.”


So if Timothy approves, the shoot was a success. And I did score a hat...a tall, black Top Hat. Maybe I’ll wear it to Thanksgiving. It would be apropos to one of their soirees. Xoxo

Melissa Rodwell