Natural light and reflectors

After 25 years of working as a photographer, it’s a great feeling to walk into a studio and have pretty much everything you need to start shooting. Backgrounds, lights, reflectors – I’ve built up a collection of kit over the years that means I’m pretty well set up to do anything that the client requires, and like all photographers I’m still always buying new equipment. However, sometimes the simplest piece of kit can make the biggest difference to make the shot or give you a new idea. In this instance, I’m talking about the humble reflector. It’s cheap, versatile, portable and has saved my photography life more times than I care to remember.

Reflector lighting tutorial 1

Many photographers see the ideal studio as a blank canvas, where they can hang a background roll and have enough space to put lights around the subject. But even the simplest space can offer surprising opportunities to do something a little different. In the summer I was shooting with some models using my usual backdrops, props and furniture and concentrating on bringing the best out of the girls. It was a hot day and I opened the back door of the studio to allow some air in. The back door is north facing, so that side of the building is always in shadow, but the light that day caught my eye.

Reflector lighting tutorial 2

I asked one of the models to stand in the doorway and I took a test shot. I got a nice silhouette, but I felt it needed a bit more. I grabbed a stand with a 5-in-1 reflector on a reflector arm and positioned it close to the model using the silver reflector sleeve. It bounced back just enough light to fill in the shadow and give some detail while keeping the shot nice and moody. Using a studio light or an on-camera flash would have killed the softness and mood of the shot, but the reflector once again proved its £20 worth.

Reflector lighting tutorial 3

That little ignored corner of the studio has become a well trodden path, especially when the light’s bright enough (so about 3 days of the year in the UK then), and more importantly it made me think out of the box – or away from the backgrounds – to utilise any spare corner, or odd little area that I may come across either in the studio or on location. And to always have a reflector at hand.

The final images were shot with the Olympus E-5 and 12-60mm f/2.8 lens set at 40mm (80mm in 35mm equiv). The exposure was f/4 1/60 sec @ISO 200.

Models: Melita and Lauren from Mission Models

Make-up: Belladama