When it comes to shooting in available light, finding natural reflectors can be a great way to fill and even the light on your subject. What is a natural reflector? This is any object, building, etc that you can find and use to bounce light back onto your subject. While this can be used for any type of photography, the light you can find from natural reflectors is especially great for portraits. It can help even out and brighten skin tones, create catch lights, and produce flattering, even light to hide imperfections and dark under eye shadows.
What reflectors should I look for?
As you look around your location here are some great things you can try to find to bounce light.
Sidewalks – What’s great about sidewalks is that you can easily find them in urban settings as well as park settings. Look for a sidewalk that’s light in color and well exposed to light.
Hot Spots – These are areas where the light is most focused and intense and can be found indoors or outdoors. Think of the light that’s cast on the floor in the afternoon, or the light that hits the sidewalk at the edge of a building shadow. When you put your subject near the edge of the shadow before a hot spot, light will be reflected more intensely back onto your subject.
White walls – This is going to act light a giant reflector. The bigger the wall, the better as you’ll get a larger light source to bounce onto your couple.
White board, paper, or fabric – Whenever I am doing detail shots for a wedding, I always look for something white that can help reflect or fill light where I need it. You could use anything from a piece of computer paper, white pillowcase or sheet, paper plate, a light neutral colored invitation… Anything you can find that will help bounce the light for you.
As you search for your natural reflectors for portraits, make sure you stay away from anything that has a bright bold color. This will reflect back on the skin and make editing a nightmare for you. And the last thing you want is someone to have neon green or bright red skin! Stick to reflectors that have neutral tones.
So the next time you’re out photo scouting, look around and see what you can use as a natural reflector for future sessions! What are some creative ways you’ve used natural reflectors?