Reflectors used to freak me out. I didn’t know what to do with them, but knew they could be helpful if I did know! So I wanted to share some easy tips and tricks with you I’ve learned over the last year! Even if you shoot by yourself, that doesn’t have to stop you!! I’m sharing some tricks on how I use them even when shooting alone!
First off, reflectors bounce light. It allows for beautiful skin tone colors, and less editing if you shoot it right! There are two types of reflectors: Natural and artificial. I always prefer natural, meaning any light surface that I didn’t bring! This often looks like a light cement sidewalk, or white walls. Here’s a few examples!
I LOVE these spots, but obviously there won’t be white sidewalks and white walls everywhere! That’s why I also love using artificial reflectors!
These can get rid of colored shadows. Grass, dark pavement, etc. will cast weird shades on the shadows on faces, normally the tint of whatever the ground is! Meaning your skin tones won’t be as beautiful or accurate! Even if it’s red brick on the ground or nearby, there can be a red tint to the face! Not cool! But also, reflectors get rid of shadows on cloudy days! I LOVE cloudy days! It’s like a giant soft box! But if you can’t face your client toward the light, or really get those shadows filled in, a reflector is great for that too!!
What I do to avoid those unwanted shadows or colors is prop the reflector up using my camera bag in front of my couple! This is my FAVORITE trick, and a great system since I’m often shooting alone! It bounces the light right up to the shadows on their faces, and I can move in and out for tighter or wider shots without worrying too much about it! Another option I read on Ryan & Alyssa‘s blog a few years ago is to lay the reflector flat on the ground too if needed! I for sure use that as well!
Here’s a couple shots showing how I propped the reflector up! Obviously this isn’t a shot I give my couples, but you can see how all the shadows in their faces are filled in!
If it’s a tighter shot, I can pick the reflector up with one hand and shoot with the other! Here’s an example! If you look closely at my bride’s face, there’s no green tint that would be there normally from the grass!
Here’s an example with and without the reflector being held up towards the face! Look under the eyes- they’re way lighter in the first one thanks to using a reflector!
Reflectors can also shade your lens! If the sun is setting and shining right into your lens, there’s going to be flare. So to get rid of that, there needs to be something to create a shadow on your lens. This can often be a tree, building, lens hood, or I’ve even used my hand, but in some cases a reflector is the best thing! Have an assistant hold the reflector to block the sun from hitting your lens. This is a recent trick I learned from Amy & Jordan, and this way you won’t get any flare at all! This has really helped in locations where the sun set was really bright and didn’t have much to diffuse it, or anything to shade my lens!
I use the Westcott 6-in-1 reflector kit! I highly recommend it too, and if it’s too pricey, I’d just purchase a white one! The 6-in-1 includes a silver/gold side, which adds some color on gloomy days (thanks again for this tip, Amy & Jordan!)! But I use the white a lot more, so that’s a great start for a budget that will have a huge impact!!
Happy shooting and I hope this helps with your knowledge of reflectors!