Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend! (A Lesson on Light!)

Sparkle Sparkle! We all love that sparkle! Look for the sparkle in their eyes and you will have a winner of a shot!



Look for the sparkle in their eyes!

Your eyes need light to see and so does your camera. The first technical thing you do when you are ready to shoot is access the quality of the light. Is it dark or bright or in between? You can’t take a photo in the dark. You must have good light to have a sharp photo, and in my opinion, unless you have a professional studio set up with professional light, it needs to be natural light. Light from outside by a window or open door works great. The flash is not what you are after most of the time…unless you are just taking a snapshot to document the party at the restaurant or you don’t have time to determine the light situation. The flash on your camera is cold, harsh and unforgiving. Turn it off. It isn’t natural. It is like using a microwave when the slow cooker taste is what you are after. Sometime is it necessary when you are in a hurry, but when you have time, go for the home cooked experience!

You will want your subject facing the light, or, with some light on their face if possible. Look for the ‘light reflections’ in their eyes; they are called ‘catch lights’. If you see those reflections (little white dots when the eyes are open) is a good rule of thumb that there is enough light on the face to get a good exposure. Those little white light dots bring life to your photo. Without these, the person can look lifeless. If you don’t see them, try moving your child so they are facing the light source. Making sure you have these lights in the eyes of your subject is a great tool, a good quick test for signs of enough light.

There is no ‘light’ on Andrew’s face, his eyes are dark here. Even though the porch was bright and loaded with light, it wasn’t on his face.


However, by just a quick move to the other side of the window, I saw the sparkle in his eyes and got this shot. I did not need to have the flash or any other expensive camera equipment to get this, just had to know what to look for. And now you know what to look for! This one tip alone will make such a huge difference with your future photography and is so easy to do once you know what you are looking for!


If you are outside you will want your subject in the shade but looking toward the light so their face is facing the light. This will keep the shadows off their face and you can see the catch lights (no more raccoon eyes). On occasion when you are outside, you may want to turn on your flash to add an extra boost of light. The reason why the flash may be OK outside and not inside is because inside it creates too much contrast and harshly dominates the photo. Outside on a sunny day, your flash can add the extra light in the direction that you need to keep the shadows off the faces and under their eyes creating the catch lights you are looking for in their eyes. I know it sounds crazy, no flash inside, flash outside…doesn’t make sense but not everything is going to make logical sense in your quest for your next favorite photo!

Here is another good example of the ‘light in the eyes’. This one doesn’t have as much but it still works.


And one more: no external fake light just good ‘ol organic light and a little ‘know what your are looking for’ will do! Check out the sparkle!


Now I bet that you will be looking for these wonderful sparkly lights everywhere you go! You will see them in people’s eyes all the time and you will want to take their picture!

You have the first two really important things: the subject (story) and the light.

Now we need to move on to the part that makes the photo turn out technically beautiful. Grab your camera,  your diamonds and your manual (don’t worry we aren’t going to read it we just may need to locate a button or two).  Let’s go learn about how to get the blurry background!


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