How to Light Fabric - DENIM

Welcome back to the Breed Classroom! Today we’ll be discussing how to light Denim! Denim is still in the opaque category because it’s a very dense material which means it’s impenetrable to light, just like leather and velvet that I previously posted about. But denim differs than velvet and leather because of the nature of the weave. You know how jeans can be soft and pliable? That softness makes it easier to light because it’s not absorbing most of the light. But denim is also coarse so I normally use a strong, directional light but I can use diffusion with denim. There are some cases with certain denim like dark blue or black denim and the more coarser fabrics where if you don’t use a stronger light, they will disappear and look “blocked up”. In other words, you won’t be able to see any detail in the fabric.



Remember, it’s not just your typical jeans you have to keep in mind when shooting denim. There are many different colors of denim,  there are denim accessories like purses and belts and many different washes of denim like stoned washed and acid washed. It’s a good practice to really study the fabric first before determining how strong and how directional the light will need to be!



I used a Profoto RFi 3 x 3 Softbox to light the denim pants that Mathilda is wearing on this shoot. There is diffusion on the softbox which I felt was a good choice because the jeans weren’t super coarse. The softbox lent a softer feel to the soft jeans. I also had a Profoto head with a reflector angled up towards the models’ eyes to add a little punch to her eyes. I also used a black V flat to the models’ right side to absorb some of the light and add a bit of shadow or depth to the photos. You know I like my shadows and don’t like things too commercially lit!



Denim is fun and sexy! I wanted Mathilda to just have fun with this shot so we had her dancing and sitting and moving around a lot. I think it all depends on the garment you’re working with on how to determine the right pose. And sometimes, you can just have the model move around a lot and capture it! You’ll usually see it while you’re shooting!



It was important that I communicated exactly what I wanted to achieve with the fabric lessons. I wanted Mickey Freeman to pull strong pieces but also to accessorize and use other clothing pieces as an overall look! It’s very important to have really good communication wth your stylist. I think Mickey really nailed this look! I love the big, dangling earrings with the little halter top and then the soft, luscious ripped up jeans! I like the way he folded the bottom of the jeans up just a little to show off the gold strappy heels. It was a great finishing touch! Yay Mickey!




Nikon D750

Nikkor AF-S 85mm 1.4 Lens

Profoto Pro 7A 2400 Pack

Profoto RFi 2 x 3 Softbox





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Melissa Rodwell