Catchlights in Photography

Maybe you have questioned as to why quite a few of your pictures seem lifeless, monotonous or empty? Look at the picture; examine if the eyes of your subject have a catchlight. If perhaps it doesn’t this could possibly be one of the causes for what reason your portrait is visually monotonous.

catchlight portrait

“oh-the-eyes” captured by Matt Sillence (Click Image to See More From Matt Sillence)

Catchlights, often called eyelights, refers to the depiction of the chief source of light that makes an unusual glimmer or flicker. This may be a fundamental factor in contributing life to your portraits and is usually seen at 10 o’clock or 2 o’clock in the eyes, where it animates your subject most effectively.

You can create diverse catchlights from any location, hinging on the camera lens you select, the size and shape of the main light source, and the distance of the key light. Photographers frequently work with reflectors as a way to make larger and more alluring catchlights.

Reflectors can be positioned on the lap of the subject or above the subject for the creation of dramatic catchlights.

The positioning of your catchlights is affected by the elevation and slope of your key light and fill light in three-point-lighting. As these lights shift, so does the catchlight that it generates in your subject’s eyes. The key light is your primary foundation of light. It is commonly placed in front of the subject, somewhat to one side (45 degrees).

The appearance of the portrait, its quality and necessary properties are well shown with this style of lighting. Compared with the key light, the fill light sends out significantly less brightness. It lowers the shadow that the key light generates and is set on the side perpendicular to the key. In most cases, a key light can be found at 4:30 along with the fill light at 7:30. This setup adds amazing effect of profundity in the absence of excessive drama. Pretty much, this spot for the key light is the most common in the three-point- lighting setup.


“beauty definition” captured by Alexandra Catana (Click Image to See More From Alexandra Catana)

It is essential to set these lights on its right position for you to get the catchlight that you want. The moment all these are accordingly installed, and your camera is properly geared up, magnificent and life-giving catchlights await your portraits.

About the Author
Samanta Vis is a talented photographer. She writes about several subjects including tips and how-tos in the field of digital photography. If you want to know more about the proper photography posing, check out the photography poses and never be stuck in a single pose again.

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:

2 responses to “Catchlights in Photography”

  1. Tiberman Sajiwan Ramyead says:

    I haven’t got down to portraits yet, although the few family black-and-white portraits I take with my 50mm prime often make me feel great; BUT I didn’t realize the the life-giving catchlight aspect. Thanks for the tip.

  2. I reckon that the catching the right lighting is truly the hardest job when you’re taking a picture. With portraits, it is even harder. I’m still trying to use the natural light only, but it takes time. I’m thinking about trying some experiments with artificial lights.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New! Want more photography tips? We now offer a free newsletter for photographers:

No, my photos are the best, close this forever