Sephora Top Notes

By Barbara Goldman

Sephora, a leading well-known beauty retailer that offers the best in cosmetics, skin care, makeup, perfumes, hair, beauty products and makeup tips recently created a new campaign to promote their fragrances. Freelance Art Director Chris Romney was tapped by Sephora to oversee the project and brought in Rich Begany, a highly sought after still life photographer in the beauty and cosmetics business. Begany is known for his unique eye for detail and rather modern interpretations that play with color, texture and light.

Begany grew up in New York's Hudson Valley and received a BFA in photography from Rochester Institute of Technology. Upon graduating he moved to New York City and began assisting other photographers before setting up his own studio in 2005. He seeks a careful balance in collaborations with his clients and allows an object's design to inform his lighting and composition before applying digital tools. He has worked for such well-known clients as MAC Cosmetics, Maybelline, Estee Lauder and Neutrogena.

Romney presented the initial concept and designs to the in-house creative and marketing departments. He wanted to tell a story for each fragrance in a simple, slightly abstract way. After discussing several ways to approach the project, he and Begany agreed on using color to reference the various notes in each scent and to create a unique atmosphere for each- just the kind of presentation Begany executes so well.

Once the concept was approved he had only a few days to prep and lock down the direction. He had to determine a camera angle and lighting scenario that would give all ten setups a cohesive feel but allow some flexibility. Getting the main color to blend with the chosen secondary "notes" and enhance each other was where he spent the most time. Once he determined the correct colored gels to represent Meyer Lemon, Wild Hyacinth and Jasmine for example, it took some experimentation with strobe power, light shaping tools, and color density to achieve the atmospheric effect.

The post production, which was handled by Begany, also provided some challenges. The individual manufacturers had given Sephora guidelines for how their product would appear in the final piece. Each shot was covered several ways on set to provide flexibility during post. This allowed him to keep some of the influence of the colored backgrounds in the bottle but maintain the product's recognition.

Begany got his shots just the way he and the client wanted. And, of course, he came through smelling like a rose. The images will be used in a direct-mail fragrance promotion by Sephora sometime before the end of this year.

You can see more of Rich Begany's work across the beauty and style spectrum at


PDN August 2016: The Fine-Art Photography Issue

PhotoServe Membership Portfolio





Sign up for our free monthly PhotoServe e-mail newsletter.


Contact PDN | About Photo District News | Camera Reviews and Gear Guide | Photography Blog | Photo News | Photo Magazine- Print Subscription |
Photography RSS Resources | Free Photography Newsletter | Photo Magazine Advertising | Photographer Features & Resources | Stock Photographs
© 2016 Emerald Expositions, LLC. All rights reserved. Read our TERMS OF USE and PRIVACY POLICY