While using strobes to light your portrait gives you flexibility  creativity and control  however there are some “tricks for young players”.  One of these “tricks for young players” is giving your subject black sockets for eyes and darkness under their chin.

When you put a flash light under your chin your forehead becomes covered in shadow, when you light from the top you do the opposite.  You put shadows in the eye sockets and under the chin.

Have a look at this photo for example:

Portrait lighting set-up Shadow under the chin

Example – Shadows under the chin

You can see in the photo above there is almost no detail under my chin and the upper parts of my eye sockets are not as bright as they should be.

There is an old saying “The eyes are the window to the soul!” so you need them to be bright, there are a few ways in which you can do this but the cheapest and easiest is to simply bounce the light up from under the chin back onto the face. In example below I used a 41 inch 5-in-1 reflector.

Given that I am so close to the light I didn’t actually use the entire 41 inches of the reflector, I had it folded up as if it was going to be packed away.

“The quality of light off the bounce is so soft it’s like touching a fluffy kitten”

I positioned it just under my chin, so the light from the strobe would hit the reflector and bounce back up filling the dark areas with light.  This includes under my chin and pushing more light into my eyes, to really open them up.

portrait photo using a reflector to bounce light

Using a reflector to bounce the light back up under the chin to show detail

Now of course you might want to go for the dark/dead look, but this is generally not ideal for most portrait shots. – Well not unless you are a Emo.

If you don’t have a reflector you can use any white or silver object that is large enough to reflect enough light.

This technique can be used for all sorts of photos and used to light parts of your subject that you feel need more light.

For example – If you find that your subject is dark on one side of their face and you have a white wall near by, just move them closer to the wall and the light will bounce off to give that extra kick and fill in the shadows.

I used exactly that technique in this photo:

Bounce light off a wall to fill in the shadows.

Bounce light off a wall to fill in the shadows.

By bouncing the light off the wall on the camera right, I was able to fill the shadows just enough so as to give a nice even fill, and as an added bonus the quality of light off the bounce is so soft it’s like touching a fluffy kitten.

So next time when you have to take fill some shadow and don’t have anything at hand whip out some tin foil and see what you can do. 😉