Creating Netflix’s DAHMER Style Portrait Photography with Gels and Flash

by | Oct 7, 2022 | Tips and Tutorials

In this post, I’m sharing my experience of recreating the iconic yellow-lit portrait from Netflix’s “DAHMER” series in my home studio. This project was not only a fun creative challenge but also a great opportunity to explore gel portrait photography and using speedlights for portraits. Let’s dive into how I achieved this look.

The Inspiration

The Netflix series “DAHMER – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” features a striking yellow-lit portrait of Evan Peters, which immediately caught my attention. The goal was to recreate this style using minimal and affordable equipment.

The Setup

  • Backdrop: A simple black side of a 5-in-1 reflector set on a light stand.
  • Model: Courtney, posing as Jeffrey Dahmer.
  • Lighting: Godox V1 for Sony speedlight with a 70cm light dome.
  • DIY Gel: Lacking the exact gel color, I improvised with a yellow document folder, cutting out a circle to use as a gel.

The Process

  1. Positioning the Light: The light dome was placed overhead, slightly to one side, pointing downward onto Courtney’s face. A grid on the light box minimized light spill.
  2. Fill Light: A piece of white foam board was used to bounce light under the chin, addressing underexposure in that area.
  3. Shooting: We experimented with various shots, both portrait and landscape, adjusting the balance and positioning as needed.

Editing in Lightroom

  • Importing Photos: I used an SD reader to import photos directly onto my iPad Pro.
  • Starting with Presets: I began with one of Peter McKinnon’s presets as a base.
  • Color Adjustments: The color mix slider was key in amping up and fine-tuning the yellow hue.
  • Radial Masks: Used to control light and dial in the desired look.
  • Eye Enhancement: Since we didn’t have contact lenses like in the show, I used editing to brighten the eyes for a similar effect.
  • Final Touches: Adjusted the exposure within the frames of the glasses and brightened the eyes for a spooky look.

The Final Images

I’m really pleased with how the photos turned out. They capture the eerie and captivating essence of the DAHMER series, showcasing the power of creative lighting and editing.

If you found this process interesting and informative, check out the full video on my channel for a more detailed look at how I created these photos. And don’t forget to watch “DAHMER” on Netflix for some captivating viewing and great performances.

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I'm Will Chidlow, passionate about creating visually captivating content that tells a story. Whether it's through video production, photography, or content creation, I'm here to help you share your ideas with the world. Learn more about my work. Follow me on Instagram and don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel.

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