Three Quick Uses for a Reflector at a Convention Event (Besides Reflecting Light)

“Man, you’re not kidding around.” That’s what Matt, my Lighting Tech, told me when he stepped into the Press Room and looked at all the gear I had laid out on the table—which included a collapsed 32 inch reflector. At this year’s Comic Con, I wanted to get the best photos I possibly could. While that means not only having knowledge of how to pose my subjects, it also meant bringing everything that was needed. After having shot the convention for the past four years, I finally learned from my mistakes enough to also know what gear to bring along. While I didn’t want to lug a reflector around with me, it was totally worth it in the end. Here’s why:

Makeshift Background

There are times when you really want an image a certain way. Backgrounds are very important to me, and to achieve the fashion-styled look that I want, I need a neutral background (or as close to it as I can get.)

In the photo above, I found it nearly impossible to move my subject to a neutral background, so I asked Matt to bring out the reflector. Since it’s a 5-in-1, he set it up to have the white side face me/the back of the subject. By doing this, we created a seamless white background that provided a not so distracting look to it.

Note that we only did this when we absolutely needed to. Otherwise, the convention floor’s black curtains (which were very plentiful) worked perfectly, as in the photo above.

Blocking Incoming Flashes

One of the major problems of being the guy that turns the floor into a make-shift fashion shoot is that you’ll always have on-lookers. And said on-lookers will try to get the same shot that you are. Please understand that when we do these quick shoots, we try to do them as fast as possible: in many times, two minutes or less with each mini shoot being only 2 to 6 pictures as most.

Sometimes, the pop-up flashes from a stray point-and-shoot camera, DSLR, or even phones can throw off your lighting.

If after asking kindly many times for people to please hold their photos for a second (or not use a flash), then it’s time to play back in order for you and the subject to get back to exploring the convention. In a case like this, the reflector can be used to give you and the subject a bit of privacy and also block incoming flashes.

Out of respect, I’ll only do this for at most seven seconds: which is more than enough time (too much to be honest) for me to get the perfect shot that I’m looking for.

Cutting Out Light Sources

While we know that shutter speeds control ambient light and apertures control flash exposure, sometimes you’ll find the perfect location but there will be some horrid light messing with your photo or your white balance. In a case like this, you can use the reflector to diffuse it or get rid of it totally.

Keep in mind that convention floors don’t exactly have the most photogenic lighting setups: they’re designed for the human eye instead of a camera.

B&H Photo has a load of collapsible reflectors to choose from. You can apply these skills to any situation as well.

Have you used a reflector on a convention floor? If you have, let us know in the comments below.

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.