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Portrait Tips: How Do You Photograph People With Glasses?

A quick google search told me that at least 60% of people wear glasses or contacts, and that means your next client probably does, too. I wore glasses for many years (I had LASIK, so I don’t anymore) and can attest that when you’re a glasses wearer, photographs can make you a little more anxious than usual because you’ve experienced really bad glare in the lenses. The thing is, photographing people with glasses is simple. Let me show you how.

Reflection Direction

Glare in glasses comes from light reflecting off the lenses and into the camera. The thing that makes photographing glasses easy is that reflections are perfectly predictable. Light comes from a source and shines onto the glasses at a certain angle and reflects off the glasses at that same angle but in the opposite direction. All you have to do is NOT put your camera in the place where the reflection is shining and you won’t see any glare in the photograph.

What to Adjust

If you see glare, you need to move the camera, the light, or your subject. Often, moving or tilting the light slightly is enough to eliminate the glare. If you raise the light, the glare will be reflecting to a lower position, probably below your camera.

 

If you can’t move the light–maybe it’s a window or other immovable source–then move your camera slightly. Stepping to the left or right will often be enough to remove the glare. Maybe moving a little upward or downward will do the trick.

Remember: Glare is Your Fault

I simply raised the camera to eliminate the glare.

The last thing you should do is move your subject. Folks are already nervous about being in a photograph, and they’re nervous about having bad glare on their glasses. You should do everything possible to make sure they know that glare isn’t their fault and it’s not their glasses fault–it’s your fault for posing them in a position that shows glare. However, a simple tilt of the head, or turning a little to the side will probably remove the glare. Don’t say, “There’s glare on your glasses, so turn your head,” just say, “Please turn your head a little this way.” Don’t mention the glasses.

Never Do These Things

Never remove the lenses. Glasses are very costly and removing lenses can damage them. Practice your craft so you can quickly eliminate glare without removing the lenses. Besides that, people can’t see you when you remove the lenses and this changes their expressions and can make them look a little…vacant.

Never tilt the glasses on the face. This removes glare, but it looks ridiculous. It changes the angle of the reflection, but you can do the same thing by tilting the light or the whole face.

Never remove the glasses. People who wear glasses don’t look like themselves without them–I still kinda feel like I’m missing something in portraits of myself. Reassure people that the glasses will not cause a problem. Certainly not as much problem as the red spots on noses.

Never use Photoshop to combine pictures. You could photograph them with glasses and without in the same pose and then combine them in Photoshop, but it’s a waste of time. Wouldn’t you rather be making more pictures? Just learn to pose the light, the camera, and the people so that glare isn’t an issue to begin with.

Conclusion

Glare in glasses distracts from your subject’s most important feature–their eyes. But if you position your light and camera so the reflections are not shining into the camera, then you won’t have any glare. But, as with all compromises in photography, you can also use glare as an effect.

Portrait Tips come out each week, and you can see them all right here.

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