I’ve been a professional photographer since 2005 and in that time I’ve tried a TON of different lighting modifiers. Umbrellas, soft boxes, scrims, translucent umbrellas, umbrellas with diffusion, octo boxes, light spheres, barn doors, flags … you name it. But recently, I discovered the snoot. Yup — the snoot!
What is a snoot?
Think of a snoot as a spotlight for your flash. A tightly controlled beam or pillar of light — similar to a spotlight for a singer or an actor on a stage. Usually shaped like a cone, it fits over the head of your flash unit.
Some are made for specific flash units, others are more universal. Some creative photographers have made their own out of black poster board.
Why a snoot?
When it comes to composing and lighting your images, one of the rules is, the viewers eye will usually go to the brightest object in the photo. A snoot allows you to aim a pillar of light with marksman like precision exactly where you want it. This way, the intended subject or focal point of your image becomes immediately obvious to the viewer.
Moreover, a snoot can create drama and huge visual interest in your images. Additionally, snoots are usually — relatively — inexpensive to obtain.
Because the light coming through a snoot isn’t diffused, you can create overly contrasty images and the lighting can be a bit harsh. To get around this, you want to try and center the light on your subject so that noses don’t cast unwanted shadows and you definitely want to use a snoot off camera.
Where do I get one?
If you want to up your portrait game and add some drama to your images, pick up a snoot and experiment, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results! No go have some fun and make some magic with a snoot!
- Inexpensive to obtain
- Small — easy to put in your camera bag
- Easy to use
- If used improperly, you can case weird shadows on your subjects