It was Kristina's wedding day and she wanted to take bridal photos under the age-old tree where they would soon tie the knot. It was the middle of the day and there were bright spots on the ground from where the sun found its way through the tall tree. Kristina completely trusted me and I knew she would be willing to switch up the location if we needed, but I wanted to make the spot work for her! Plus, it was beautiful...
I knew there were 2 big issues happening with the combination of the location and time of day. First, the bright spots on the ground would reflect the green grass onto her dress and skin. Second, the deep shadows from the tree's shade would add a green color shift to the skin tones. I was shooting both digital and film and film tends to have an even bigger issue with color shifts/reflections than digital. The solution? A reflector. Let's dive into 7 scenarios where you will definitely want to pull out the reflector! You will want to use a reflector...
(1) If you're shooting under tall trees
Madalyn and Conner had their first look in the middle of the day under several tall, thin trees. The light was evenly diffused for the most part and it was a beautiful setting! Without the reflector, there would have been yellows and greens in the skin tones from the grass.
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(2) If the sun is hitting the ground beside your subject
Midday again! This was during Mariah and Haden's first look, which was during the afternoon. I wanted to create some interest by using the speckled light, but I didn't want the front of her dress taking on the green reflections from the grass. Isaac held the reflector at a 45 degree angle to wash out those green reflections!
Side note: Normally we just lay the reflector on the ground to add just a little bit of light. But the grass was tall and uneven, so Isaac had to hold it!
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(3) If you're shooting in the middle of the day on the grass
Here's another photo of Kristina during her bridal portraits. While I was this close to her, I leaned the reflector against myself so that I could get close and still have an illuminated subject!
(4) If your subject is sidelit
After the ceremony, we headed to Lafayette Park in St Louis for wedding party and couple photos! We were near the bridge where the landscaping is full and has a lot of depth. Because it was the middle of the day, I didn't want to take them too far into the shadows and opted for illuminated bokeh! I mean, just look at that bokeh!
I put the reflector on the ground and you can see evidence of this in her eyeshadow, her lipstick, and his ring. The sun was hitting the reflector and bouncing that clean, white light back onto their skin!
(5) If it's overcast
The reflector is with me all day, but I use it even more on overcast days. If you have ever shot film and noticed the mucky colors that can happen on a rainy day, it might not be an exposure issue. It might be a color issue. You can easily solve this with a reflector! And let's just go ahead and talk about this bokeh, too...
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(6) BONUS: If you're shooting details outside
Clean light for clean color! I love shooting bridal details outside when there's an outdoor wedding. There's something about being infused in the environment that sparks creativity! Plus, speckled light to pull your attention to a diamond ring? Swoon.
I Placed the reflector on the left to fill in the shadows!
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(7) BONUS: If you're shooting details inside with uneven light
I photographed this in my office for my rebrand. There's a window on the North side of my office and a window on the East. It was the middle of the day and I was photographing in the middle of the room (as opposed to by the window - more on that another time)! I wanted the long shadows, but I didn't want them to feel dramatic. So I place the reflector on the left side of the image to fill in those shadows!
When I was first starting, I thought you had to use the reflector for every image. And then I thought you had to shine the light onto your subject with the reflector. Then there was a short season where I refused to use a reflector because I thought it was amateur. Oh my! Haha!
I hope these tips help you as you bring that reflector out and let it work for you! We bring it with us everywhere!
Questions about the reflector originally came up in our #askjordanbrittley facebook group! If you're a creative looking for the sweetest group around, come join us on facebook!
UPDATED TO ADD: For those of you who have asked, I use this reflector!