Portraits Using Reflectors

My style of photography has always been fairly natural and only ever really using natural light. Anything other was definitely pushing me out of my comfort zone. However, as I have been working more and more in portraiture, I just had to experiment with reflectors. And boy I didn't know how much I would love it.

About 10 pounds from amazon and an absolute game changer.

You can use reflectors for a variety of different things, e.g. different coloured reflectors have different uses. You can use a silver reflector to bounce light onto your subject. You can use a black reflector to block the light and create shadows. You can use a gold reflector to cast a warm orange glow on your subject or you can use a white reflector to get softer light on your subject. It takes experimentation to angle your chosen reflector in the exact right position to get the desired effect. The help of a trusty assistant is always a plus. Whether you're working in a studio or using natural light in the great outdoors, a reflector is a lightweight and useful addition to add to your kit bag.

To show you an example using a silver reflector, below you can see an image using natural light without a reflector and the second image is the exact same spot incorporating a silver reflector angled from below the model to cast more light onto the subject's face and reduce the natural shadows. This shows you just how much of a difference it can make to your whole image. Photography is basically just playing with light and this is just another tool to make it work to your advantage. It all depends on the position of your light source e.g. the sun, and how you angle your reflector depending on where on your model you want the light to bounce to.

This light also produces a catchlight in the eyes of your subject. If you zoom in you will notice a small white circle of light in their eyes from where the light has been reflected. Different light sources produce different catchlights in people's eyes e.g. you can use ring lights and soft-boxes to create different shape catchlights.

However, using reflectors comes with its own challenges. You have to be careful that you don't reflect too much light onto your subject and completely blow out the highlights. You also have to be careful when using the gold reflector that it doesn't change your colours too much and make your subject look too orange. I would suggest that the gold reflector is best suited for a swimwear shoot rather than close up portraits, depending on the desired effect.

However, the results can be worth every minute. Take a look at a few other shots I've created with reflectors below. Get creative with it and see how it can completely change your images.