Photography for Beginners: Capturing Catch Lights

Today’s photography for beginners photo tip is super simple but makes a huge difference in photographing people. When I’m taking photos of my littles, or anyone else for that matter, the one thing I really try to focus on and highlight is their eyes. It’s the eyes of a person that draw us into the photograph and capture our attention. But, it can also be really easy for the eyes to get lost in shadows and not stand out in a photo. The eyes can make the difference between a good photo and a great one. Today’s Tuesday Photo tip is all about how to capture the catch lights in your subjects eyes- and really its one of the easiest things to capture in camera once you’ve played with it a little.


Photography for beginners: What are catchlights?

Catchlights refer to the light reflected and highlighted in your subjects eyes so that it draws attention to them. It adds life and drama to your photo rather than leaving the eyes shadowed and lifeless.

How to capture catchlights

Face your Subject toward the Light: Really it’s that simple! If your subject is looking toward the light – whether is the sun or some sort of artificial light- you’ll see catchlights in the eyes. Now, obviously theres a few things you need to consider.

Facing your subject towards the light at noon on a bright day is going to produce squinting- probably not the look you are going for.

Keep these things in mind: Open shade (shade with no streaks or dappled light coming through) helps you avoid a squinting subject, but still allows you to face them toward the light and get beautiful catchlights in the eyes. This works even on a cloud day! The clouds act to naturally diffuse the light and get rid of shadows, but you can still face your subject toward the sun and get those gorgeous catch lights.

Here is a great example of capturing catchlights while in the shade. The photo on the left the subject has the sun behind him. On the right I turned him so that he was still in the shade but facing into the sun and was able to get the catchlights in his eyes.

Another way to do this is inside- Turn off any indoor lights and face your subject toward the light coming in from a window. Position them so that you can see their eyes pop and sparkle and then snap away.

Okay. But what if for some reason the light is behind my subject? Use a reflector!

A reflector does just what it sounds like it reflects the light and bounces it back onto your subject. This might take a little bit of playing with to get the hang of. Position the reflector so that it faces the light and then play with moving it around and see how the light on your subjects face changes as you move the reflector. The more you play with it and practice the better you’ll get at finding the “sweet spot” that reflects just the right amount of light and produces catchlights in your subjects


So now that you have a super simple way to improve on your photos go out and practice! I’d love to hear how it goes so be sure to connect with me on Facebook & Instagram.

Want to learn more about capturing beautiful photos that document your every day? Check out my ebook!

Document Your Days: A Busy Mom’s Guide to Photographing Life with Your Phone