We've probably all heard the phrase “the eyes are the windows to the soul.” The viewer is drawn in to the eyes of a portrait. That is why it is important to remember to pose the eyes (see previous bog – How to avoid looking creepy).
As well as posing eyes, we also have to remember to make sure the eyes look vibrant and alive. The way to do that is to ensure there is a catchlight in each eyes.
What is a catch light?
A catchlight is a small spark of light in the eye which makes the eyes sparkle. So how to you get these catchlights? Well, they are created by a reflection from a bright source of light this could be the sun, a light bulb, a torch or a strobe so all you need to do is make sure you are in a room or outdoors with a light source and there is nothing blocking the path between you and the light. You don't have to look directly at the light source – in fact if the light source is the sun, you definitely don't want to be looking directly at it but the reflection in your eye should be visible.
If you are taking a selfie, this should be one of the things you look out for by perhaps taking a photograph and zooming in on the eyes to check whether you have a catchlight. If not and your eyes look a little dull or dare I say it... dead, reposition your head to ensure you can see a catchlight in your eyes.
If someone else is taking your photograph; it makes life easier as they can position you correctly before taking a photograph.
If that all seems a little picky I'll show you an example of a photograph with and without catchlights and you can see the difference for yourself.
These two photographs are identical except for the removal of the catchlights from my eyes in the photograph on the right. As a result, my eyes look dull and lifeless in this picture. It's a subtle but important difference.
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