A catchlight is a specular highlight in your subject’s eyes. This spark will help you to draw your viewer’s attention to your subject’s eyes, making them full of life.
A top catchlight is caused by the main light source or key light. Here’s how to add extra life to a subject by adding a bottom catch light.
Bouncing light from underneath
A simple way to add a bottom catch light is to use a reflector to bounce light back up to your subject’s face. Here we used a white v-flat made from foam board.
The catchlight takes on the shape of the source reflecting light back to the subject. Notice how it also fills in the darker shadows under the subject’s chin.
Creative bottom catchlights
I mentioned catchlights take on the shape of the light source. If you want to create a unique catchlight, have a unique light source. For a crescent shape bottom catchlight, I used the Westcott Eyelighter (B&H | Amazon). The silver side added the crescent shape I wanted, the white side just filled in shadows under the subject’s chin.
Get creative with bottom catchlights
I showed you just two simple samples of adding bottom catchlights. It’s your turn to get creative. Find a subject and explain you are practicing a new technique.
Start by taking your normal shots — shots you know will always look good. These are your safe shots in case your practice shots are not up to your standards. Then start to experiment and see how you can bounce light to create bottom catchlights.
Try things like:
- A gray sidewalk
- Laying a silver reflector on the ground
- Use different shapes and sizes softboxes at very low power
As you practice, look closely at the results and see which techniques worked or which didn’t. You now have different styles to try on your next shoot.