Sunday, July 19, 2015

How to Use a Reflector

The night before we shot these photos in the gorgeous field
of wildflowers near my home,
it rained like CRAZY!

The morning dawned bright and sunny, but
the field still had standing water.

But, water doesn't stop me from photographing on a pretty morning!

Beautiful Madison was a great sport to slog through the
sloshy field with her mother!

I want to show you how to use a reflector 
because I have one with me on all  photo shoots and
usually hold it myself!

This way, I can get the reflected light right where I want it,
in the quantity I want it.

You can't see from this angle, but I am shooting the photo with my
right hand while holding the reflector with my left!

The sun is at Madison's back in all these photos.
The reflector bounced light back onto her face and filled in any shadows
so her skin and face are radiant!

Here, I'm taking the photo without the reflector and you can see that the face is shaded.

I shot this next photo without a reflector.
The background is beautifully exposed, but
her face is dark and underexposed because 
the sun is at her back.

I could choose to meter for her face, but that would
blow out the pretty background.

Instead, I use the reflector low and angled to 
bounce the light up and under her hat
to illuminate her face...

This way, the entire photo is exposed correctly. 

The reflector is a silver disc that is like beaming
a mirror at the subject...BLINDING!

I don't angle the sun directly into someone's eyes.
I look for the "edge" light which is softer and
much easier on the eyes.

I have my subjects close their eyes while I find this
sweet spot of light.  I count down from three and tell them
to open their eyes and can shut them the moment
after they hear my camera click!

Be very careful using a reflector with children too young
to understand how to close and open their eyes.
Use very little reflection with kids!

I like soft reflector light better than a flash.

                                  I like that I can instantly see the much light is
on the face and what is illuminated.  That's also the reason I use
continuous lights in my studio rather than strobes.

I am so used to holding the reflector with one hand and shooting with the other!

When shooting in back light and the subject is sitting or is a small child, get down
to their level so you can capture the dazzling sparkles of light
in background trees.

The results are so worth the effort!

Without a reflector and with a reflector...
the difference is dramatic!

You will see the light on the face to know you have the reflector
angled correctly.

In the running shots, I had my daughter hold the reflector:

Here, Madison's mom Eve used the reflector as a giant fan
to give her hair some movement!

Reflectors are also great to block the sun if you need a certain angle.

I use a 40-inch, five-in-one reflector that has silver, gold, black, white and a diffuser inside.
But, reflectors come in different shapes like oblong or triangles and various sizes.

Here's a link to mine on for $40. 

I also have a 12-inch reflector that folds tiny for travel which
works well to illuminate just a face.

It takes some practice to really SEE how the light is reflecting.
You don't want harsh....look for soft light.

You will see how a reflector really improves your photos!


  1. Very when you use your reflector you just meter for the background and not the i right..thank you ..

  2. Thank you i found the answer in your previous are the best...

  3. Wonderful examples .. don't do a lot of people photography but I've often wish I had a reflector when I do but not really sure how to use it .. now I can at least try. Thanks!!