How to Shoot and Edit Like Brandon Woelfel

How to Shoot and Edit Like Brandon Woelfel

A couple months ago we asked you who your favorite photographers were, and put out a tutorial on how to shoot and edit like them. Since then, so many of you have asked us to create another one about Brandon Woelfel’s style. And… Some of you did not. Anyway, here’s a tutorial on how to shoot and edit like Brandon Woelfel. Before we get started, we want to remind you that the purpose of this tutorial is not so that you can blatantly rip off Brandon. Instead, we hope that you’re able to identify aspects of his photography that you can apply to your own unique style. Also, we don’t want to discount Brandon’s expertise, experience, and creativity. If you like his work consider picking up his book “Luminescence” We’ll link it in the description below. Finally if this isn’t your style, feel free to fast forward to the end of this tutorial where we’ll show you some Lightroom tips and tricks that we haven’t covered before. Let’s get started 🙂 Brandon uses some key tools to achieve his look. We’re using a few of them today. They are fairy lights, 1970s serial killer glasses, a CD and a prism. He favours a 50 millimetre lens, and the occasional 85 and 35. Try to shoot at blue hour and later; depending on how your camera performs in Low-light. Also, be sure to shoot with a wide open aperture to get a super shallow depth of field. Have your model hold fairy lights in front of her face to illuminate it. Grab the end of the strand and hold it near your lens to add drama to the whole fairy light situation. You can use a prism or CD underneath to the side, or in front of your lens to reflect more of the fairy lights in your shot. This can create some pretty unique looks, so have some fun with it. Another Woelfel staple is using neon and other artificial lights to illuminate your subject at night. We went to Chinatown to make use of all the Indian light. Choose a backdrop with plenty of lights in the background, so they’ll add bokeh behind your model. Again use fairy lights or any exterior artificial lights that can light up your model without casting unpleasant shadows. While Brandon favours photoshop, you can get a similar look in Lightroom. Looking at reference photos of his, I noticed he favours a cotton candy colour palette. I started off by adjusting the white balance. I made the temperature a little cooler, and I adjusted the tint to be more magenta. Next I jumped down to the tone curve. I needed to lift the black point to give that crushed black look I also finessed the curve just a bit keeping the line slightly above the dotted linear guide Back in our basic adjustment section. I lifted the exposure and contrast Brought the highlights down to around negative 30, lifted the shadows to 70 and slightly adjusted the whites and blacks I brought the clarity down just a little bit and listed the overall saturation to the 9 For the hues, I brought the reds oranges and yellows to the left. This makes the reds more magenta The oranges a little more red and the yellow a touch more orange I also wanted the aqua to be more blue and the blue to be more aqua, which sounds counterintuitive, but it worked out well I also thought the saturation was a bit over the top, so I lowered it almost entirely across the board, except for the purple and magenta Remember we’ve got to get that cotton candy and some adjustments to the luminance helps brighten things up a touch For the split toning I really wanted more blue in the shadows, so I used a hue of 224 and a Saturation of 16 to bring that in I also wanted some pink and highlights, so I added a hue of 292 and Saturation of 3 to do just that I also added a sharpening of 8 with masking set to 96 so only the most infocus areas get sharpened since I was at an ISO of 2500 I decided to add a little noise reduction, just don’t overdo it I also added a dehaze of 18, this adds a bit of overall contrast and saturation in So if your version of Lightroom doesn’t have dehaze just add about 10 of both contrast and saturation One thing that works well to add warmth and light to your model’s face is using the radial filter It’s the circle to the left of the adjustment brush I made an ellipse in the shape of Rachel’s face and clicked the invert mask option Then I added warmth and lifted the shadows and highlights Another trick to adding more dramatic color into the photo is using the graduated filter I clicked and dragged from the right side to link to the left stopping when the center point reached Rachel Then I chose a pink hue to play off the aqua hue on the left side For less intensity, just drag the slider down to your desired level of saturation Now if you need to mask out areas of your model But you don’t want affected by the graduated filter, just click the brush option hold down the alt or option key and click Enable auto mask click the o key to see your current mask and while still holding down the Alt or option key Paint away the part of your model that you don’t want the graduated filter to affect I painted out Rachael’s arm, so that’s no longer a part of the mask One other thing you can do is composite in some fairy light bokeh from one shot to another in Photoshop For example I had a test photo I did inside with the lights Since the background is completely black I was able to just drop it in onto another photo that I thought would benefit from the added depth Just change the transfer mode to lightning and there you have it One final thing I did was add a graduated filter across most of the image with a light yellow hue to add a little extra warmth as a finishing touch Recap Pick up a Brandon Woelfel Starter Pack™ Using a 50 millimeter with a wide aperture, shoot at blue hour or night with lots of ambient light Just re-watch the whole editing section again Bonus tip Use #doingthebrandonwoelfel and wait for those crispy likes to roll in D: We hope you enjoyed this video please like this and subscribe if you haven’t already And also we just released our first monthly newsletter filled with personal anecdotes, our current inspiration And we highlighted the instagram of one of our subscribers if you want to sign up head up to and enter your email at the bottom One last thing: if you like these Mango Street shirts And you want one for yourself, head up to the link in the description We’ll see you next week

100 thoughts on “How to Shoot and Edit Like Brandon Woelfel

  1. how does vsco compare to photoshop? i have a pc so i don’t think i can use vsco. if there is a way to get vsco, please let me know.

  2. could you please show us the process how to do that look you usually do, orange skin desaturated background with high level of contrast… ??

  3. hi can you please tell me why i cant just warm up the face ? i am doing what you say select the cerc put on face tick invert
    but when i go to warm up the whole pic warms up can anyone help me ?

  4. 🙂 we're not very creative as an old fart. So what's the best way to use Brandon's ideas (or anyone for that matter) and give him credit at the same time. We are not a fan of getting credit for others creativity.

    aka Bob

  5. This video series are awesome, not only because we learn tips and trick, but also because i get to know other styles 🙂

  6. Thank you @Brandon Woelfel & @Mango Street! You guys have inspire me in my photography and youtube journey.

    I have created a video from the ideas you have given me, hoping for some support ><

  7. my problem is: when i shoot on like low light sets (dark room) but with light on and behind the model the quality of my picture ( im usin a canon 700d and a canon 50mm 1.8) is really bad… idk maybe its the settings? which settings should i use

  8. I think Brandon is cool.. But if u will making same "style" pictures like Brandon. You will never have your style. 🙂

  9. New sub here. I like the way you guys shoot your videos. I’m new to all of this so watching your videos is teaching me a lot.

  10. nice. make more people be uncreative and just copy a pretty basic style to begin with. God I hate instagram.

  11. Help! What aperture and speed would you recommend i use if im doing this at night and only using the fairy lights ? I'm just now learning and have no idea how it all works :/

  12. I just wanted to say thank you for all these tips. I'm just starting and all these tips have really helped as a beginner who doesn't know where to start. Thank you!

  13. Ihave adobe cloud and have lightroom but our lightroom looks very different. I dont have nearly 1/3 of what is on your Lr. What version do you have?

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