Easily Create Catchlights with Outdoor Light in 5 Steps

by | Light

Have you ever seen a portrait and noticed a “twinkle” in the subject’s eyes? That look that makes them seem full of life and mischief? That “twinkle” or light in their eyes is known as catchlights. Catchlights are the little bit of light in your subject’s eyes, and they make your portraits come to life! As a portrait photographer, this is your goal, and it’s not hard to create catchlights with outdoor light. Like I’ve said before… you have to shoot for the light and not the location.

Catchlights are easy to achieve, especially in outdoor light; you just have to know a few basic things…

How to Create Catchlights with Outdoor Light

1. Use open shade to capture the best catchlights. Make sure that your subject is under the shadow of a building, tree, even an open garage door. Have them walk to the edge of the shade and have them face the light. 

create catchlights in your subjects eyes

2. If it’s an overcast day, you can create catchlights in your subject’s eyes by having them sit down, look up towards you, and to shoot down on your subject.  

create catchlights in outdoor light

3. Realize that if your subject has dark eyes, catchlights will be harder to achieve. Catchlights are easiest to capture in people with lighter colored eyes.

create catchlights in dark eyes

4. Use a reflector. Reflectors are great and can easily be used to bounce light to create catchlights. Remember, you can use a white sheet, the concrete, or even a puddle as a reflector.  

create catchlights in light eyes

5. Practice, practice, practice. Begin to get familiar with different types of light and know where to place your subject to create those catchlights.  

Creating catchlights with outdoor light isn’t hard; it just takes a bit of patience and a bit of knowledge on how to make the light work for you. Capturing that beautiful light in your subject’s eye’s just takes a bit of practice. So grab your camera, head outside, and try to capture those magical catchlights in your subject’s eyes!



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