Uses of a Photography Reflector

Jan 2020

4 mins read

Ever wonder why your clicks don’t look satisfactory despite you using the best cameras and lenses? Well, it’s because you’ve ignored a critical component in your photography arsenal, and that is the photography reflector. These simple-looking tools can be the difference between clicking good photos and genuinely great ones. A photography reflector can help you make the most of any given light source (artificial or natural) and bring the dazzle to your setting and shots. There are many different types of photography reflectors. The most commonly used reflectors are the ‘5 in 1’ photography reflectors, which have five different colour surfaces, namely black, white, gold, silver and translucent. Individual reflective surfaces are available too along with ‘8 in 1′ and ’10 in 1’ light reflectors.

In this article, the various uses of a photography reflector, and how it can take your photography to the next level are discussed.

Amplify a Lighting Source

The lighting effect of a photography reflector

If you are stuck with inadequate natural lighting and don’t have powerful photo light boxes, it is time to let photography reflectors be a part of your shooting process.

A photography reflector has a highly reflective surface, and so it can help you make the most of any light source by redirecting light to the desired object or setting. This feature makes photography reflectors a fantastic choice for projects in dark and dimly lit environments, or if you have budget constraints and want to make the most out of your led photography lights

Photography reflectors are generally portable and easy to carry around, unlike additional photo lightboxes that are quite heavy. So, if you’re bogged down with time constraints and need a quick artificial lighting source that you can carry, a photography reflector is just what you need in your kit.

Diffuse a Light Source

Left: photography without a diffuser | Right: with a diffuser.

Have you ever looked at a photo and been dismayed at the harm that too much flash or direct sunlight can do? An undiffused light source (such as led photography lights) can thoroughly wash out all the features of an object or setting, creating harsh shadows in the photo. This problem occurs because generally, artificial light sources or direct natural light sources unevenly dispersed. Due to this uneven dispersion of light, the setting will receive the full blast of light, making it overexposed. Moreover, while shooting, with an individual or a large group, the harshness of direct light becomes unbearable after a point. 

Hence, photographers use diffusers to soften the lighting effect. A diffuser works by evenly spreading a light source passing through it so that the result is soft or diffused light. These often come with ‘5 in 1’ photography reflectors. The result is that you can illuminate an object or setting without creating rough tones, and make their subtle features stand out. It is an essential tool for food and fashion photography. 

Achieve Special Effects

A photography reflector can help you take control of the colour tones and intensity of light, which can help you create plenty of special lighting effects. Think of a dark room with just one object of focus, or a shot of a model with only his/her eyes in focus. The scope for customization is endless, and you can achieve incredible light settings across both indoor and outdoor projects. Wedding and fashion photographers are especially indebted to photography reflectors, as that can assist them in creating dramatic shadow effects.

Just to give you an example of a photography reflector use case, take a look at the famous portrait of Steve Jobs given below. 

A great example of reflectors being used the right way

In the above portrait, a black photography reflector absorbs all the reflected light coming from the photo light box, which is on the opposite side. The light focuses more on certain prominent aspects such as his glasses and his gaze, in comparison to other features.

It Can Serve Many More Purposes

Photography reflector has many different uses. It serves as an alternative source of light. If a natural source of light (like direct sunlight) is falling upon the back of your object, you can place the reflector in front of the object to create an excellent source of soft light. For example, if you’re taking a picture of someone lying down on the ground, you could use place the reflector on a low level to direct some soft light into their direction. It can be a convenient replacement for a bulky photo light box or led photography lights.

Furthermore, photography reflectors can block out unwanted light sources. They can also be useful in wildlife photoshoots, as animals are much less likely to run away from a reflected light source in comparison to a flashlight source.

In conclusion, it is abundantly clear that photography reflectors are very crucial additions to your kit. They might not be the most expensive, or the coolest looking accessory in your set, but are equally essential to your photography projects as a right lens, camera or lighting unit. 

Additionally, it is helpful to learn how to use photography reflectors in various situations so that you can clearly understand what would work best for a particular project. For this purpose, there are many online photography courses, like the one offered at Shaw Academy. These courses can do wonders for you and can take your photography to the next level. The course helps you realize your potential in photography by giving you a solid foundation on the subject. Everything from the various styles of photography, types of camera functions and lenses to the composition and lighting, and the uses of photography reflectors, will be covered in the intensive program offered by Shaw Academy. If you are planning to turn your photography hobby into a full-time profession, Shaw Academy’s online photography course can equip you with the right knowledge and skills to fulfill your wishes.

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