If you were to take a guess, how many off-camera flashes do you think were used to create the image above?

If you guessed two, you are correct. Sometimes, an image that appears to be complex is actually just a simple concept that requires a bit of practice.  See how we created this image in 5 simple steps:

See how we created this image in 5 simple steps:

step one: find reflective painting or wall art

This technique will work for literally any reflection, whether you are outside shooting through a window or off of water, you will get roughly the same results. In a controlled environment like this we have the ability to move around the scene and place the subject where we choose, but in outdoor scenarios you may not have the same freedom or flexibility. If you do choose to attempt this technique, remember that the subject needs to be brighter than the background.


step two: place one off-camera flash on subject

Once you’ve located where you want to capture the reflection, start shaping your light to create a more dynamic image. Always start with one light, your key light, to illuminate your subject.

We placed one Phottix Mitros+ directly in front of our subject’s face as our key light source and we added a MagGrid in order to help prevent light-spill so that our light source has direction and purpose. Using your OCF’s to shape and mold the light in the scene will make the biggest difference in your portraiture.

step three: place another off-camera flash behind subject to create a silhouette

The reflection trick can be accomplished with just one flash pointed towards your subject, but we wanted to take things a little further. By adding a second Phottix Mitros+ behind our subject, backlighting her, we created a silhouette of her head. This light also acts as a way to illuminate the hairspray which incorporates action into the scene.

step four: position body to remain out of reflection

The tricky part of working with reflections or mirrors is removing yourself from the image. To prevent long hours of post-production try to remove your reflection from the scene by positioning your body out of frame. You can see in our first shot on the left, Pye’s body is clearly visible within the reflection, but as soon as he takes a seat on the couch he finds an angle where his body isn’t seen.


step five: clean up in post

Using the Content Aware tool in Photoshop we can remove the shadow cast by our backlight on the right.  We can spend some time here perfecting the image by removing the outlets and vent on the wall or you can decide to crop the image to exclude unwanted items.

Remember that most of our fine-tuning was done while shooting and we simply used Photoshop to enhance and tweak the photo to make it absolutely perfect. You can see how we arrived at the final image on the right by watching our full Photoshop tutorial here!

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