How To Use A Reflector For Better Portraits

A reflector can be your secret weapon for better outdoor portraits on cloudy days! It is a cheap (depends on the brand and the size) gadget to enhance your photography skills. I bought my first small reflector at a photo fair 9 years ago and I was surprised by the results. Today I would like to show you the differences when using the white, silver and gold sides.

How to use a reflector

A reflector reflects light, just as is says. Seeing where the light is landing when you’re using a gold or silver reflector is easy. For the white reflector it’s a little bit harder. The best method I have found for using a reflector is to move it back and forth and watch the light on your model. You will see the eyes lighten up. The change might be subtle, but you’ll be able to find the right angle for your reflector with a little practice. Also ask the model is she sees or feels the difference. If you’re using a silver or gold side, be careful in the full sun, the last thing you want to do is temporarily blind them :)

When to use a reflector

photography-reflectorI prefer to use a reflector only on cloudy days, because the results will be too hard in the full sun, especially the silver and gold ones. You can also use the reflector when using backlight like I did with the photos below. The sun came from behind the model and the reflector is reflecting the light back to your model’s face. Of course it all depends on your photography style when you prefer to use a reflector. I recommend to buy a reflector to go out and discover what your style suits the most.

How we did the test

It was a cloudy day with just a little bit of sunshine. The models didn’t wear any makeup and I didn’t edit the photos. My intern took the reflector (60cm) and stood at a 45-degree angle from our models, since I was shooting them straight on. She held the reflector open to the sky, almost flat, at just a slight angle to bounce the light from the sky back into their faces. There was a slight difference when using the white reflector. The gold and white sides were more effective. For Roxy @ Paparazzi Models (the girl with the light skin tone) the white reflector suits the best, the silver one made her skin tone too fair and the gold one too warm. For Namikka @ Elite Models (the girl the the darker skin tone) the white or the gold reflector was the best option. The silver side made her skin tone too cold. You will also see the differences in her clothes.

The Fashion Camera

The Fashion Camera

Now it’s your turn! Fall is the perfect time to play around with a reflector. Enjoy!
Click here to see the best reflectors at Kamera Express.