We live in Arizona, the desert, home to snakes and scorpions, mountains and valleys, dirt and dust, cacti, open skies, and lots and lots of sunshine. Needless to say, we rarely have to reschedule sessions due to weather. The natural sunlight is as consistent as anywhere in the world. The light asphalt in the city and light gravel in the desert provide plenty of natural reflectors to fill pretty light into our subjects’ faces. We rarely, if ever, see a cloudy day for an entire day, which means most of the time we don’t need to use artificial reflectors to bounce light to fill the shadows on our clients’ faces.

But even though we don’t need to use a reflector all the time, we always have it handy for those occasional cloudy days, and it’s a life-saver! For photographers in more precipitous parts of the country, it’s a must-have in our book. We did an anniversary session for this adorable couple in Nashville last week while in town to shoot this cute couple’s wedding, and on the day of the anniversary session, the clouds were in full force and had formed a veil over the sun. We actually love this kind of light! Even though it prevents us from using backlighting the way we like to, it’s an awesome opportunity to face our clients any direction we want since the light is soft everywhere, so it makes any location a lot more fun and versatile!

When we were photographing them at a distance, like in this example below, it wasn’t necessary to use any type of reflector to fill the shadows on their faces, because a) they’re so far away that we couldn’t use a reflector without being in the shot, and b) their faces are such a small part of the overall frame that it doesn’t make a noticeable difference.

However, as we got closer to our subjects to shoot tighter angles and even head shots, you’ll notice in the example below, which is straight out of camera (SOOC), that our subjects have shadows under their eyes and nose, and even on the broad side of their face, especially Ryan’s right cheek.

So, since it was a cloudy day, we busted out our Wescott 46-inch reflector and opened it up to the silver-gold side. It comes with gold, silver, silver-gold, and white, and we prefer silver-gold the most because, like Goldilocks:

a) gold is too warm

b) silver is too cold

c) and silver-gold is juussst right!

Here’s how we used the reflector to bounce beautiful light onto our subjects’ faces to get our photos as close to perfect in camera as possible:

How to Use a Reflector_0001

1. Jordan took the reflector and stood at a 45-degree angle from our client, since Amy was shooting them straight on.

2. He 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.

3. Magic happened.

Again, here’s the SOOC version of this shot on the left and the SOOC version with the reflector on the right with THE EXACT SAME SETTINGS!:

How to Use a Reflector_0002

What?! How crazy is that?! The camera settings are exactly the same, but adding that little bounce of light goes a looong way!

Also, here’s the final edit on the far right of the photo so you can see all three. No reflector SOOC (left), with reflector SOOC (middle), and with reflector final edit (right):

How to Use a Reflector_0003

So, if you have an assistant, second shooter, or someone who doesn’t mind helping out at your next shoot on a cloudy day, use a reflector for up-close shots to add that little bit of polish to your in-camera work!

We’re so proud of our shooting and editing course students all across the world! They’re shooting better, editing faster and serving their clients better than ever before!

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Alisa

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14 comments
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    Melissa Badertscher

    Excellent info! Thank you for sharing.

    Ashley dellinger photography

    Silver gold? Im intiruged! I also find that gold is too much, silver is too little & white sometimes doesnt even make a difference. One thing Ill add is that i sometimes will have the assistant hold a small flash onlow power, aimed at the reflector (white side usually in this case) on cloudy days to create my own light to bounce when there isnt any! Love these shots glad I found your blog : )

    Jesus r cosme

    Thank you for the great photography tip !

    Amy & Jordan

    So happy to help! :)

    Gina

    Looking forward to more good info in the Monday Minute.

    Molly

    What if it is just you (the photographer) and the client during a shoot. Can you use the reflector by laying it on the ground? Would it still work/have the same effect?

    Molly Allen

    What if it is just you (the photographer) and the client during a shoot. Can you use the reflector by laying it on the ground? Would it still work/have the same effect?

    Molly Allen

    What if it is just you (the photographer) and the client during a shoot. Can you use the reflector by laying it on the ground? Would it still work/have the same effect?

    You two are amazing! Thank you so much for all your tutorials and articles! They are helping me tremendously!

    You two are amazing! Thank you so much for sharing your tutorials and articles! They are helping me tremendously!

    Amy & Jordan

    Aw!! You're so sweet! We appreciate that so much! :)

    Is there a reflector that is just silver-gold? I can't find one. Or do y'all use both silver and gold at the same time to achieve the silver gold combo you talk about?

    Don't have one

    Amy & Jordan

    We use the silver-gold combo in the Westcott 6-in-1 reflector! Hope that helps! :)

    Staranne Maxson

    Thank you so much for your willingness to share your knowledge, in straight, easy to understand terminology. The examples you add to your articles and tutorials show exactly what you are talking about.

    Amy & Jordan

    Aw! You're so welcome, Staranne!We're so glad this was helpful!