Using Reflectors to Take Better Portraits

There are several different ways to light up your subject for portraits, sometimes we can get caught up in needing more lights for our sets while forgetting there are other tools that can help. Reflectors can very beneficial in bouncing additional light in a cost-effective way.  Whether it’s the sun, available light, or your own artificial light, reflectors can help you control the light. Aaron Nace over at Phlearn shows several ways to use a reflector, or a few, on-set to improve your portraits.5-in-1 reflectors are great but they are not the only thing that can be used to bounce light, there are several different objects that can be used instead, most of which you could have already. Foam core or poster boards work great as white reflectors, or even a white bed sheet as a diffuser depending on how thick it is. Look around, see what else can be used to bounce the light. If you need to pick up a 5-in1 reflector or a few, you can check this one. There are several different ones varying in shape, size, and some even come with handles for a better grip. 

I find myself using the reflector for outdoor sessions with natural light. I am seriously underusing my own reflectors as I don’t usually think to use it for studio work. Instead of setting up another light, I could just bring out the diffuser.  Aaron does a great job of showing how the reflector works and how he uses it for different setups. While he used mostly the diffusion panel or the white reflector, don’t forget the other sides of that 5-in-1 reflector can be used as well if you need it. For stronger light, you can use the silver side or if you want to add some warmer tones flip to gold. Black side can be used to flag your subject if you want to intensify the shadows.

How often do you use a reflector during your photo shoot? How do you use them? How many are on set?

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Jermaine Beckley's picture

The part about pointing light into the white sides of a v flat definitely set off a light bulb in my head!

Jared Wolfe's picture

That is my go to light setup. Light bounced off 4x8 polyboard. I use a small 16" beauty dish for extra softness and no hotspot. Bare light for a extra power or punchiness.

stir photos's picture

I've been under utilizing reflectors apparently... I use 1 or 2 on almost every shoot and I use them as fillers mostly, but sometimes as keys. On at least 2 shoots, I used black reflectors to increase shadow intensity... Thanks for sharing this, good stuff!