DIY Beauty Dish Band Portraits

It's been a full year since I designed and built my first DIY beauty dish, the “Chinatown Special.” So, after shooting with the dish for all of 2010 and the year coming to a close, I thought I'd put together a collection of band promos and portraits lit with this inexpensive light modifier that's made from a stainless steel mixing bowl, a pizza pan, and a little spray paint.

Building a DIY Beauty Dish

I built my first DIY beauty dish in December of 2009. Since I already owned an Lastolite EZYBox Softbox, I decided to use that accessory's bracket in my beauty dish, and went to source the other parts at a restaurant supply store.

As it turned out, a 16-quart stainless steel mixing bowl and a small 8″ pizza tray were perfect for this design. A trip to Home Depot and a couple hours of work later, and I had my finished dish.

If you haven't built your own beauty dish yet, check out my detailed tutorial for making your own DIY beauty dish and grab some popcorn for the video tutorial.

Why A Beauty Dish Kicks Butt

The main reason I built a beauty dish was for use in promotional portraits for bands. After working with softboxes and umbrellas, I was looking for a compact light modifier that I could take on-location for shoots. Softboxes and umbrellas a great for the light they throw, but I was looking for something that was a little easier to work with in unpredictable (read: windy) conditions. Enter  the beauty dish.

With a middling light quality, the interesting thing about a beauty dish is that it can almost be as soft or as hard as you want.

By itself with no other light sources for fill, the beauty dish as the key light can create a relatively heavy look with deep shadows. For a lot of the metal bands I shoot, this sort of dramatic, moody look is perfect. Used in combination with reflectors or other fill, the beauty dish can work to produce great light that can contribute to a very soft look.

But enough talk – here are samples of a beauty dish for band promos and portraits.

Beauty Dish Examples – Portrait Photography


Portraits of metalcore band The Devil Wears Prada, photographed on March 15, 2010 by Todd Owyoung. (TODD OWYOUNG)






Portraits of metalcore band The Devil Wears Prada, photographed on March 15, 2010 by Todd Owyoung. (TODD OWYOUNG)

Portraits of UK rock band Band of Skulls photographed in St. Louis on March 23, 2010. (TODD OWYOUNG)


Photographer's Notes:

95% of these portraits were shot with the following equipment:

Cameras Used:

Lenses Used:

Lighting Equipment Used:

In all cases, the SB-900 was used as the key light fired into the beauty dish, with additional accent lighting from other SB-900s or SB-600s.

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End Notes:

A year in with my beauty dish and I'm loving it. Want to make your own? Check out the tutorial: The Chinatown Special Beauty Dish.