Often Overlooked but Essential Photography Gear – Reflectors

Some of the last gear added to a photographers kit is the most essential but often overlooked pieces, the reflector is no different.  Reflectors are one of those things that once you get one you’ll often find yourself asking yourself what you did without it.  It will improve your photography as well as make you a better person (just kidding, you could still be a bad person and own a reflector… you could use it to reflect light onto yourself making you look good though).


Neewer 110CM 43″ 5-in-1 Collapsible Multi-Disc Light Reflector ($17.29)

Reflectors are used in all sorts of photography, it’s a great source of natural light and doesn’t require power or magic to use.  One of the biggest benefits is the ability to light a subject and see the effects of the light without having to wait for the flash to fire, eliminating guess-work.  I highly recommend beginner photographers to start with reflectors before progressing onto speed lights and the likes due to the ease of use versus the complexities of using a flash properly.

If you don’t hate your money and want a great functioning reflector for cheap then hit the link below.  Otherwise, head to the nearest camera store and pay double.  Either way, get yourself a reflector and improve your photography.

So whats the deal with the colors?

Each reflector you find will normally come with some different color covers to be used in different situations.  Each color slightly adjusts the temperature of the light as it bounces off the reflector to give you warmer, cooler, etc. light.

White – Reflects natural light onto your subject, not as harsh as silver.

Gold – Gives a warm feel to an image (similar to moving the temperature slider to the right in Lightroom), this is good for people and pets.

Translucent – Diffuses light and softens it for outdoor portraits without blinding your subject.

Black – Reflects light but less of it and creates a more natural tone because of the lack of color.

Silver – Reflects the natural light back on your subject.  Increases the contrast of your subject due to increasing specular highlights.  (specular highlights are just a fancy way of saying the bright spot on shiny objects that enhances their shape visually – hence increasing contrast)

Blue – Gives a cooler tone to the subject, like moving the temperature slider in Lightroom to the left.

Quick Guide

  1. When shooting outside position your subject facing away from the sun and use the reflector to direct light back towards them.
  2. When shooting people try to eliminate shadows under their chin and eyes.
  3. Don’t burn ants, it won’t work.
  4. Your life will be easier if you have a friend to hold the reflector, if not you can use a tripod to hold it.
  5. Hold the reflector as close to your subject as possible without being in the frame.
  6. As you learn more about lighting you can use reflectors indoors, with flashes, to diffuse and direct light.
  7. Think outside of the box:  You can use the reflector as a makeshift plain background for macro subjects or a quick table to set your lens on as you change it.


Have you used a reflector before?  Any other tips I might have missed? Feel free to comment below.  If you’d like to share some great shots with us you can do so by using the Submit an Article link in the menu above under Articles.  If you found this article interesting then please like, tweet, stumble, or pin it for others to see.  Thanks and enjoy!

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