Tiki Bar Time

On September 3, I did a session with the lovely Anastasia.  This session was inspired by the color pink, a peacock chair and the1950’s tiki aesthetic.

For this session I used:

Photography Equipment


Cannon 80D


3 strobes

2 c-stands

1 Backdrop stands

White backdrop


52-inch Umbrella

Umbrella sock

1 round soft box

Soft box grid

1 light stand

1 speed light with pink gel

Pink & red gels

Peacock Chair


Pink flamingos

Tiki & Margarita glasses


Green foliage

Styrofoam blocks


The set up

To make the base for the set, I started with a plain white backdrop that I turned pink using a gelled strobe and then placed Astroturf down on the floor. From there the set revolved around a medium sized peacock chair. I really love these chairs for shoots, even if I must rent them every time.  I added some pink flowers to the chair to give it a little flair. I then strategically placed Styrofoam cones and blocks adorned with tropical foliage around the chair. I then place the flamingos into the Styrofoam blocks, ensuring they balanced properly and did not tip over as the flamingos are top heavy.  

For the lighting I wanted a nice even light that didn’t drown out the color coming from the gelled strobe lighting the background. I used a strobe with a large 52-inch umbrella with a sock attached to it.  This light was to my left, slightly raised, and pointed down at about a 15-degree angle. I then added a second light to my right, whose job was just to add a little pop of light on the model. This second strobe had a 105cm round soft box with grid attached to it. This light was raised slightly and pointed down at about a 15-degree angle.  I last strobe was used only to add color to the background, and only had the regular bell reflector on it with a pink or red gel attached based on the intensity of the color needed.  I moved this light around based on my lighting needs. It started high in the corner to my right, with a speed light placed directly behind the chair.  The strobe then moved to directly behind the model when I took the chair away.  Because of some space limitations I couldn’t have the strobe behind the chair, so I had to settle for a speed light on its little travel foot.  This set took me a little over an hour to set everything up, and that is with most everything being pre-staged. You can watch a video of me setting up the set here: Link.

Camera Settings

For this session I used ISO 100 with an aperture of F8, and shutter speed of 1/160s and 1/200s. My focal length ranged from 18mm to 50mm with most of the images being taken at 28mm.  By keeping the same basic camera setting throughout the session, all I needed to do was dial in the lighting then just worry about composition. The thing I did have to worry about was the amount of power I was pushing through the strobe with the gel, the higher power the lighter the color but more reach, the lower the power the deeper the color but less reach. It is a very tricky balancing act.  Next time I’ll just use pink seamless.  

The Photos

For this set we did a wardrobe change in the middle of the shoot and went from a bright pink fluffy tulle dress to black capris and a tropical top.  I must say as I was shooting the session, especially after the wardrobe change, I started to feel like I was shooting a 1950’s ad promoting Florida tourism. Which is kind of the over all look I was going for, so it worked.

My one of my favorite images from the session occurred after the wardrobe change.  As you can tell the strobe with the pink gel was to my right adding that hint of color, however, I really need a second coming in from the left to balance the color across the backdrop.  I did attempt to even the pink color out in post, but it wasn’t looking natural so I left the gradient. I did all the basic adjustments, and made the image a little brighter. I then cropped the image to 8.5x11, cleaned up some spots where the white Styrofoam was peaking through and little bits of it on the ground.  I then smoothed out a couple wrinkles in the clothing. I then applied a very light blue/green color grade to the image.  Blue in the highlights and green in the shadows. I finalized the image with a light vignette, just to push the viewers’ attention to the center of the image.

My next favorite image is in the first outfit with the pink tulle. To go with the dress, we went with a fun little pink tiki cup complete with lime wedge and umbrella.  If I would have had a pineapple, I would have used a pineapple slice too. I shot this image sitting on the floor looking slightly up at the model.  There is not as much pink in the background as I would like because the power combination was wrong and the speedlight with the gel didn’t fire. I did the basic edits and adjusted the white balance and exposure. I then cleaned up a few tiny blemishes. Then cleaned up any spot where there were Styrofoam pieces or white peaking through the green. I then added a very light blue/green color grade to the image.  And finalized the image with a very light vignette.

Overall, I liked how this shoot turned out and the overall vibe of the images. Anastasia really understood the assignment for this shoot, and gave me that perfect country club woman on vacation, with her movements and poses. She really got the “Hi darling” and “Honey over here” looks down. As I was going through the images, I could see a little story unfolding from relaxing with the first margarita to, waving over friends to judging other around the pool.  This is one of the reasons I like working with Anastasia, is because she is very expressive.

You can see the final images from this session here: Tiki Time Flamingos.


Model, Make-up: Model: Anastasia (Instagram - @Brunklestein)

Wig/Headpiece, Set Design: Heather of Munchkin Photos (Instagram: @munckin_photos_by_heather)


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