This imagpe of Conor Mcgregor has a 'high fashion' type of look. How is that achieved?

It seems low saturation, it's sharp and kind of 'shiny'! Could someone give some insights please? I use LR. Is it also to do with dodging and burning?

I love the style.

enter image description here


The saturation looks to be decreased a bit, but I don't think low saturation is the right description. There's plenty of color here even if they're not especially bright shades. If saturation were increased more than a little, the model would look oddly orange:

high saturation

In a truly low saturation image he would look more washed out:

low saturation

I think some of the keys here are the choice of muted colors for the suit and tie, center-right lighting that creates highlights on the hair and forehead as well as some deep shadows, and the fact that the background is light gray rather than being blown out to solid white.


This look is primarily about the choice of lighting. Compared to typical headshots and family portraits the light here is very 'hard.' What that means is that the photographer has chosen a small light source that casts very crisp shadows. You can see this by looking at how sharp the shadow cast from his arm onto his jacket is. Larger light sources like soft boxes and octas are generally considered more flattering because they hide imperfections, but if you have someone with great skin or you are willing to go through some extra retouching, this hard light approach can work really well.

In addition to the small light source,there is no fill light which is why the shadows are almost completely black. This gives the image and additional high-contrast punch because the difference between highlights and shadows is maximized. For a little extra punch you can also add a bit of local contrast through various techniques (sharpening, clarity, etc).


It's a little while since I've played with that sort of thing to remember (and then not to that level!), but from memory it's about selective desaturation by colour range.

I've been a long-standing user of CaptureOne, in which it's quite easy; select the colour range you want, drag it smaller or larger if required, set the saturation and lightness that you want specifically for that section, then check it balances with the rest of the image.

Useful tool. I use it a lot with landscapes actually; I find the greens tends to go brassy or outright blow first quite often, so a selective desaturate on just them helps control the balance of the colours across the image when saturation needs tweaking.


I definitely think Caleb and Mark are on the right track. This look can be recreated with careful lighting and wardrobe selections - more so than it can be with editing. The lighting setup looks like a gridded (or modified in a similar fashion) key light to prevent spill - notice there are no shadows on the backdrop.

Although, to me, it looks like there is a second source of light - maybe just a reflector - if you look at the reflection in his eyes, you can see one small light source (the key light) coming from slightly up and right of centre and a second light source (maybe just a reflector or a small piece of foamcore) a little low and to the left. I would guess the second light is filling the shadows on his face and collar, whereas otherwise the detail on his shirt would be lost and there would be a little bit more of a shadow to the left of the bridge of his nose. You can also see a bit of light inside his hand - again, that would have to come from a little down and left somewhere.

With regard to editing, the low contrast wardrobe and backdrop give it the desaturated look (think of how neutrally a grey suit and grey backdrop would reflect light).. the rest is probably done by enhancing the detail in lightroom and probably by using an aperture somewhere around 5.6 (his hair is crystal clear, but his ear starts to blur a bit... depends on focal length, etc... but I'd guess an 85mm at f4 or 5.6... could be way off though).

At the end of the day, this look was definitely achieved using lights and wardrobe, editing only enhances it.

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