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How to create a catchlight in your subject's eyes

How to create a catchlight in your subject's eyes

A catchlight is the reflection of the light source in the subject's eye, usually characterised by a white shape. Most decent portrait photographers will strive to ensure that there's a good-looking catchlight present in their finished work - and for good reason.

Without a catchlight, your subject's eyes can end up looking a little lifeless and flat. The type of catchlight you have will depend entirely on your main light source: its shape, and how far and how high it is in relation to your subject.

As a general rule of thumb, however, you should try and position the light source so that the catchlight falls at either the 10 or the 2 o'clock position within the subject's eye.

Ben Brain

Benedict Brain is a UK-based photographer, award-winning journalist and author. He balances his personal practice with writing about photography and running photography workshops and enrichment programmes. He writes a monthly column called The Art of Seeing, and his first book, You Will Be Able To Take Great Photos By The End of This Book, was published in 2023 by Ilex Press in the UK and by Prestel in the USA with translations in Spanish, Bulgarian and German; his second book, A Camera Bag Companion, was published in March 2024. Benedict is often seen on the panels of prestigious photo competitions, and in 2020, he founded Potato Photographer of the Year. Benedict exhibits his work internationally, and travels the world as a public speaker, talking about the art and craft of photography.