Saturday, May 23, 2015

Behind the Scenes: Using a Reflector

Since it's raining, I have decided to be fun.

I'm going to give you a little behind the scenes info about my last photo shoot.  Specifically the first picture of Rebecca and Grace in the center of the road.

My favorite lighting for any photo shoot is around a half hour after sunrise, which is roughly 6:30 am or so where I live.  At this time, the shadows are very translucent, and the harsh sun hasn't been established.  Every object looks as if it has been whitewashed, and there's no harsh light (ideal when capturing vinyl on camera).

Facing your dolls towards the sun is generally not a good idea because the light won't be evenly distributed on your girl.  I normally place my dolls' backs to any given light source to avoid this.  However, when doing this, their faces become dark, so I use a (fabulous five-in-one) reflector to get some sparkle back into the image.  It's a giantly round, collapsable gismo that reflects the sun's light and bounces it back onto your subject, all the while defusing the harshness.  This is probably confusing.

Allow me to show you with two pictures:

See the light patch on the right side of Grace's face?  It indicates that the sun is come from that direction.  I intentionally placed the dolls there because I loved the background and I didn't want the sun's harshness directly on them.  Still, you can see that their faces are dark and in an unwanted shadow.

As you can tell in this one, I've positioned the reflector to their left (by leaning it against the incredibly stylish stepladder).  This allows the sun to bounce off of it and hit the girls' faces, lighting them both up evenly.
So life is grand.  I have smooth, even lighting, two dolls in front of a great background, and a big black reflector being held up with a stepladder.  How quaint.  What happens next?

Once I took the photos, I sent them off to my brother who merged the two together (in photoshop) and provided me with the final product:

These reflectors are incredibly inexpensive.  I received mine a little over a year ago and I now can't do a photo shoot without it.  You can find them on amazon here.

If you have any questions, I'd love to answer them.  Once you get a reflector, it'll give you the chance to take pictures any time of the day in any place without worrying if the sky is too cloudy or sunny.  Unless it's raining...which is why I'm stuck indoors on a Saturday afternoon.  What uncanny luck I seem to have.


  1. Wonderful tips! You're so lucky to have a brother that does such a great job editing your photos, I never would've guessed that the end result was actually the product of two separate photos! Well done to both of you. :)


    1. Thank you so much, Maddie! I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I always look forward to your comments :)

  2. I am so surprised by how incredibly inexpensive the 5-in-1 reflector is on Amazon. Just clicked an order! Which of the 5 colors do you use most often and in what situations would you use the different reflector colors?

    1. Most of the time I use the silver side, especially in the mornings/evenings and on cloudy days. It bounces the brights and most controlled amount of light onto your subject. On extra sunny days, I use the white side. It's a lot softer and provides just enough light to "coat" your subject evenly.

      I have yet to use the black or gold sides, but I use the diffuser to shade my dolls on sunny days. It works wonderfully! I'm so glad I helped!

  3. Incredibly helpful post! My reflector will be coming in the mail this week! :)

  4. Thank you very much for sharing this. I'm another who is about to click and order the reflector. Amazon is probably wondering why they are suddenly so popular! ;)

  5. I will definitely get that, thanks for sharing!