What is a Reflector and when should you use one? Find out the answers to these questions and more as Pro Photographer, Robert Vanelli steps you through the benefits of using Reflectors.

Gear Tip: Reflectors — Do They Really Make a Difference? | Skylum Blog© Robert Vanelli

What Is A Reflector?

A reflector is an inexpensive piece of photography gear that all photographers should own. Its reflective material bounces light in a certain direction to quickly and easily make adjustments to your lighting in order to get the look you want. Most photographers use reflectors in an outdoor natural light environment, but they work equally well in a studio using artificial light.

When to use a reflector

Reflectors control the direction of bounced light. This is useful when a subject is backlit by the sun or is poorly lit in shade. Bouncing or redirecting light will light the subject properly. Reflectors can also change the angle of shadows and give some control to the contrasts you are creating. 

Note: Holding a reflector below the subject when taking a portrait can help prevent under-eye shadows known as raccoon eyes. 

Gear Tip: Reflectors — Do They Really Make a Difference? | Skylum Blog(2)Before | After Using a Reflector

How To Use A Reflector 

To use a reflector, hold it at an angle that reflects the light in the direction you want it. Watch how the light falls on the subject and adjust the angle until you achieve the best look for the shot. Remember, distance matters too. Placing the reflector closer to the subject will produce a softer light. 

The One Reflector You Should Always Carry

Look for a reflector that comes in a 5–1 kit that features a removable, reversible cover which allows for five uniquely functional surfaces

Gear Tip: Reflectors — Do They Really Make a Difference? | Skylum Blog(3)

White —provides a neutral soft reflection useful for fill light.

Silver — offers a neutral color balance similar to the white but with a higher contrast, increasing specular highlights.

Gold — reflects warmer light onto a subject, useful in enhancing skin tones or balancing a cool scene.

Black — can be used as negative fill or as a flag to block unwanted reflections 

The inside secret... Remove the cover completely to reveal a translucent diffuser. You can use this diffuser to lessen a light’s intensity and create a broader, softer light source to wrap around your subject.

So, the next time you are either in the studio or outside photographing a portrait, try using a reflector to open the shadows and bounce some warmth onto your subject.