The Choice And Use of Reflectors

Taking a photo centers primarily on the light. Light has the ability to make your picture look good or bad, hence the need for several sources of light; the natural light, flash, floodlight, and reflectors.

Reflectors are an important photography equipment which takes advantage of natural light (sunlight). As a professional, you just cannot do without it.

Reflectors come in different types, colors, sizes, and shapes. The color determines the kind of light bouncing back.
In choosing and using a reflector, we would consider some things like what a reflector is, their types, shape, sizes, color and the way to use them.



1. Knowing A Reflector:

Like I earlier said, it is a photography equipment which has a reflective surface and reflects light. It channels natural or artificial light to your subject. It can be used to bounce off the light, diffuse and flag natural light or artificial light. The main work of a reflector is to fix shadows

They come in different shapes, we have the board reflector which has a flat surface, used in getting a broader light, to control shadows and highlights. It is used for outdoor portraits.

Reflectors are also used to supplement your main source of light, when you have shadows on some part of your face or body, use could use reflectors to provide additional light. A typical reflector has a reflector panel, black panel and diffusion panel. The reflector panel bounces and reflects light to a surface or subject, the black panel absorbs and takes away light while the diffusion panel allows light to pass through it.

They are also used to make a picture a bit dramatic, they are used as a hair light outdoors.There are many types of reflectors, they come in sizes, with different shapes and colors.



Shape Of Reflectors:

Reflectors have different shapes, there are the board reflectors, circular reflectors, oval and triangular reflectors. Square reflectors are recommended over round and oval ones maybe because they are easier to handle. There are reflectors that have handles, frames and brackets.



Reflectors come in different colors, and the reflective surface of your reflector might change the light that bounces back. A white reflector simply bounces the light, and the light is nice and soft. Reflectors come in five colors- white, gold, silver, black and translucent reflectors.

The translucent reflector is used to diffuse out the light. It allows light to pass through it and gives out a soft effect
The gold reflector gives out natural and golden light, it is usually used at sunset and also for indoor and outdoor portraits. Gold reflectors usually change the color of the light, it makes the light look warm and has an orange tone.

The white reflector reflects neutral color light that is beautiful, soft and clean. The black is used to block and absorb light. The silver reflector reflects light the most and could be used in dark places or poorly lighted areas, or in low-light situations. It does not change the color of its light, so it is recommended for indoor and outdoor photography and also black and white photography.




One of the factors to consider first in buying a reflector is the size of reflector you need. In shooting portraits, for instance, you need a small reflector, say a 42′ inch reflector. There are also reflectors that have handles, brackets, and frames.

How To Use A Reflector:

Using a reflector is quite simple and easy. You hold the reflector (for handless reflectors) or you place it at an angle that reflects light. You would have to do some adjustments in the light angle to achieve your right result. For light or sunlight that is coming from behind or at the back of your subject, maybe you are trying out backlighting, you would have to hold or place the reflector in front of your subject.

You could also place your reflector opposite the light source to fill in shadows. For portraits, shadows are seen at some parts of your face, under the eyes, mouth, nose and sometimes in the forehead, especially when wearing a cap. You could place your reflector at the waist level and lighten up the shadows.



You could also use the reflector in an artificial light like the floodlight. When floodlight is hitting from behind your subject, you place your reflector in front of your subject. The light will bounce them off from the reflector to the face of your subject.

You could also use the reflector to block or repel light. For instance, taking a shot under a shade, you might have few days of light coming through, which you might not need, you could use a black reflector to repel or block the light coming through. The black reflector can be used to deepen shadows and have a dramatic effect on your photo.
You could also use the reflector in a studio by placing the reflector on the opposite side of your subject or at the right side of the subject.

When considering the reflector to buy, consider the shape, size, and color. Large lights sources are soft, using a smaller reflector and will likely give out harsh shadows. A large reflector will make do. Also the larger your subject, the larger the size of the reflector to be used.

Generally, a 42-inch reflector is ok. The shape of a reflector will determine the shape of the light, and if it reflects on the subject, it is the shape of the light that will reflect. I prefer square reflectors to oval and round reflectors, but round reflectors are easier to hold than square reflectors. The silver reflector reflects light the most and might be too harsh on your photos in some shots. Gold reflectors bring warmth to your photo and are also harsh sometimes.

White and silver are often the most used reflector. Take note that there are multiple reflectors that come with the four types or five in one and they are interchangeable.


Reflectors are used to take advantage of light and to amplify artificial light. They are good for taking indoor and outdoor portraits and also in creative photography like food photography.

Author: Arinze

A Photography enthusiastic. I work with a group of other professional photographers to provide you tips on photography

About Arinze

A Photography enthusiastic. I work with a group of other professional photographers to provide you tips on photography

View all posts by Arinze →

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