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Three years ago in my photography career, I became obsessed with catchlights. These little lights are highlights in a subject’s eyes that make them pop just a bit more. They’re quite often really beautiful and add a bit of character and beauty to a portrait. And after shooting subject after subject and using light modifier after light modifier, it took some time but I learned the secret of getting better catchlights. Believe it or not, I took the concepts applied to using a ring flash and used them for other lights.
So what’s the secret?
The simple little trick is to tell your subject to look into the light source. Is your big umbrella camera left and above? Have their eyes right up there, get in nice and tight with an 85mm lens, and let the light do the rest of the work. Many portraitists don’t ever think about this, but it works wonders.
To take the most advantage of this, you’ll need to move your light source closer to your subject or have a really massive light source. This is one of the reasons why I’m smitten with really large umbrellas–because the light from them gets spread out and the arms of the umbrella create an interesting shape in a subject’s eyes.
Try it out this weekend–you’ll see a big difference in your images as they come to life.