DIY Gobos for Moody Portraits

A gobo, in photography, can be anything that goes in between your subject and the light source. So, when you take a photo the model, instead of being evenly lit, has certain patterns of lights and shadows on him/her. Why would you want something in between the model and the light you ask? The answer is simple: to get a more artistic result. And no, you don’t need to go out and buy a gobo. Photographer Bill Lawson shows us how to use household items as gobos:

Lawson demonstrates how everyday items can be used to cast interesting shadow patterns, resulting in an interesting portrait. All we have to do is place the object in front of the speedlight. So when the flash is fired, the light passes through the openings of the gobo and casts a pattern of shadow and light on the model. By changing the distance between the gobo, the speedlight, and the model, the shadow patterns can be changed.

use lace as gobo

Some items that Lawson uses as gobos include the following:

  • lace
  • a dish drain
  • a scoop with stripes
  • a colander
  • a hat
  • fake flowers
  • a chair

lace go between

dish drain gobo

What other things do you see around you that can be used as gobos?

Like This Article?

Don't Miss The Next One!

Join over 100,000 photographers of all experience levels who receive our free photography tips and articles to stay current: