One of those extremely valuable items for me is my 5-in-1 reflector.
It’s not too expensive, it’s light and easy to carry, I can simply pop it open anywhere and anytime I happen to need it, and it immediately improves the portraits no matter where I’m taking the pictures. Professional photographer Dennis Drenner over at Digital Photography School has listed some great tips on different ways to use a reflector.
1. Using a Reflector as the Main Light Source
This is one of my go-to reflector moves, and an easy way to wow your friends and family. You place your subject with the light hitting them from behind, then use a reflector to bounce the light back into their face. You will get nice soft light on their face, with a dramatic rim light on the back of the subject’s head. The only trick is positioning yourself so the light doesn’t go straight into your lens and create lens flare (unless you like that look, of course).
2. Using a Reflector to Block Light
Sometimes you’ll find yourself in some beautiful shady light under a tree, except for that pesky sunbeam that finds its way through the leaves to light up your subject’s left ear. When this happens, turn your reflector into a light blocker (sometimes called a flag or gobo).
3. Using a Black Reflector to Create More Dramatic Shadows
Sometimes you actually want to deepen the shadows. I use this technique all the time in my headshot studio. This is the same technique used in the famous Steve Jobs portrait where he has his hand on his chin. In addition to creating a little drama, you can also use this technique to give someone a photographic face-lift by trimming pounds from the dark side of their face and under their chin.
Who Holds the Reflector?
You may be saying to yourself, “But, I don’t have an assistant! Who’s going to hold the reflector for me?”. I usually don’t have an assistant either, but there is usually someone nearby who is more than happy to help, be it a family member, passerby, intern, wedding guest, etc. Sometimes you can even have the subject of the photo hold the reflector themselves. Of course if you’re in the studio, or outside on a day without too much wind, you can just pop your reflector onto a light stand.
Source: Digital Photography School