How to shoot ’80s-themed colorful portraits on a budget

Tips & Techniques

If you want to shoot colorful portraits inspired by the ‘80s aesthetic, you’ve come to the right place. Tajreen and Chloe of Tajreen&Co have prepared a fantastic video to give you some guidelines and examples of how to do it. The girls share lots of useful information in a short and concise video. But also, you’ll see that it doesn’t take much money to make this setup, and you can even do it in your own living room.

For a shoot like this, you will need:

  • A colorful backdrop (alternatively, you can just use a clean wall)
  • Off-camera speedlights with gels; or LED lights with gels
  • Wireless triggers
  • Star filter
  • Ultra sheer tights (thinner type, around 8 DEN)
  • Props and clothing to match the style you’re going for (hint: sequins)

I assume most of us already have LEDs or speedlights and wireless triggers at home. I also have sequin-covered clothes and sheer tights, but if you don’t, you can get them literally anywhere. You can also find gels for around $20$30 if you don’t already have them. Star filters start at around $11, but you can even use a DIY one.

Naturally, you’ll use the speedlights or LED panels with colorful gels to add a splash of color to your images. Use two sources of light with different gels. Feel free to experiment with color combinations, light placement, and light modifiers. You can use bare flashes, but also add a silver umbrella to reflect the light and make it softer. The girls also add an LED light on the front (without gels), which adds depth to their skin tones. Make sure to watch the video to see how they did it.

The star filter will add some nice-looking rays of light to the shots. And the thing with the sheer tights is adding haze to the photos. You should cut a piece of the tights and stretch it over the lens and the star filter. It adds the hazy, dreamy look to the images. It’s not my cup of tea, but I have to admit it matches the look of photos from the ‘80s.

Finally, add some props to the shoot, match it with the clothes and makeup to get the look you’re going for. The girls created a mash-up between the ‘80s style of shoot and ‘90s fashion and came up with some interesting results.

It crossed my mind while watching this video that the ‘80s sound is making a comeback in music (and I couldn’t be happier about it). I instantly thought of young synth-pop artists I admire (such as Svemirko or Isidor, for example). It occurred to me that, if you ever get to photograph promo images or album art for musicians like this, you could definitely rely on Tajreen and Chloe’s video for ideas and inspiration. But even if not, it has many great ideas if you just want to play and experiment.

[How to Shoot Dreamy & Colorful Portraits via Reddit]

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