Useful Photography Tip #147: How to Properly Illuminate a Person’s Eyes in a Photo

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Portraits from Early Winter 2015 extras (13 of 21)ISO 4001-180 sec at f - 5.0

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Illuminating someone’s face when using a flash is pretty simple to do and really all about positioning more than anything else. Best of all, you can do it all with one light source.

If you’re using natural light:

– Don’t have your subject look into the sun.

– Find diffused light; like that under a tree, awning, or in a building.

– Preferably, find a reflective surface that bounces light back into the person’s face.

– Place the reflected light source in front of or slightly to the side of the person.

If you’re using a flash in the hot shoe:

– Bounce the flash output off of a surface to the side and slightly behind you.

– Have the subject face you directly.

– Do not bounce the flash directly off of the ceiling. You’ll create shadows under the eyes.

If you’re using a flash/strobe out of the hot shoe:

– Put the flash in a large modifier–one that is larger than the person’s face

– Place the light modifier with the flash in front of the subject/slightly to the side

In all of these situations, try to turn the subject’s face slightly towards the light source. This will create more direct illumination onto the eyes.