The eyes are the most telling feature of a person. Finding the catchlight in your subjects eyes can completely transform an image and the story you’re trying to tell.
So what the heck is catchlight? Catchlight is the light that is reflected in your subjects eyes. It’s often that visible, white square somewhere on the dark part of your eye. In some cases, cartoons like to depict it as the twinkle in your eye.
Catchlight can completely affect the mood you are trying to convey and will often give you that wow factor in your images.
Now that you have an idea of what catchlight is, it’s on to my favorite part. Showing you what catchlight is! In a series of three different photos I will show you no catchlight at all, some, and full on catchlight in both eyes. The difference will wow you, and will leave you searching for it in every photo you snap.
As you can see the subject’s face is facing away from the window leaving him with “dead eyes”. Terrible phrase I know, but now it’s something you’ll never forget. There’s no expression, his eyes are flat, what color are they even?
The subject lifted his head and you can now vaguely see the little white box resembling the window to his left. You can also now see some color in his iris.
WOW! The only difference was a small head tilt toward the window (your light source) and you have a completely different image. (I, the photographer, did also move slightly to my right to follow his gaze) His eyes literally pop out at you. Catchlight is soooo important to capture in an image. Especially if you’re trying to capture a joyful child. Unless of course you are trying to convey a dark, creepy, sad, empty image. Then by all means go with picture 1. More often than not you’re trying to capture image #3.
This is such a cute image. If only his eyes weren’t so dark.
Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. There is a small head tilt upwards, so now we can see the white in his eye. But still not great.
I, the photographer, moved slightly toward the light. (My back to the window) The subject’s gaze followed me and we now have catchlight in both eyes!
So there you have it. You’re one step closer to photographing like a professional.
I hope you enjoyed this small but mighty tip. I would love to hear how this tip made an impact on your images. Please comment below with a story or even better, your pictures!