I spent yesterday making portraits at a corporate event, and several people tried to insist that they wanted to remove their eyeglasses for their portraits. This happens a lot, and it’s usually because your subject has had a bad experience wearing glasses in portraits before. Here are a few good reasons your subject should wear their glasses in portraits.
There’s a picture of my family at my parents’ house, and there’s a guy I just don’t recognize in that photo: it’s my dad. But my dad has worn glasses every day since he was in third grade, and in this photo, he’s not wearing them. It was made in the early nineties, and the photographers always recommended that he remove them so there wouldn’t be glare. Unfortunately, he just doesn’t look like himself without them. I use this experience to help my subjects choose to wear their glasses so their friends and clients recognize them.
If your subject has been wearing glasses, they likely have marks on the sides of their nose where the glasses rest. These are a little difficult to remove, but they are also evidence that your subject usually wears glasses and won’t be recognized without them.
You Can Stop the Glare
You can remove the glare from the glasses simply by positioning the light and the subject in the right spot. Light reflects off the glasses at the same angle it shines onto the glasses. If the camera is sitting in the spot where the reflection is shining, then you’ll see glare on the glasses in the photo. If the camera is not where the light is reflecting, then you won’t see glare. You can position your subject’s face and the light and the camera so that the reflection of the light is not visible to the camera. If you’re using a studio strobe, activating the modeling lamp will help you see where the reflection will be before you make the photo.
So many of your subjects will wear glasses, and many of them just aren’t recognizable without them. If they remove their glasses they not only don’t look like themselves, but they will probably have marks on the sides of their noses. You can remove most of the concerns about wearing glasses in pictures by learning to position your lights and camera so that glare is not a problem.
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