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Capturing Bright-Eyed Photographs

Whether they’re disposable, Polaroid or capturing your blurred numberplate on the M40, you’d be hard pushed to find yourself more than five metres away from a camera at any time of day. With such a constant presence in our everyday lives, we’ve decided that 2018 has no room for squinty eyes and photography disasters.

This week, we spoke to award-winning baby, child and family photographer and Getty images contributor, Heather Neilson, about how to stay bright-eyed in photographs and why a white wall or white car might be your answer to filling your eyes with pretty bright catchlights.

Hey, Heather! Thanks for chatting with us. For starters, when facing the camera, where should you look to appear most bright-eyed?

The most important thing to in order to look most bright-eyed when being photographed is to make sure you are facing a light source, or a source of reflected light (for example, either into the sun or facing sunlight reflecting off the ground/wall or a large object in front of you). Do not ever face into a heavy patch of shade! Look directly into the lens which will create a sense of openness and connection with anyone viewing the resulting photo.

Do you have any tricks for ensuring groups of people keep they’re eyes are open to capture a strong group photograph?

I take lots of photos so that at least one will have everyone looking at the camera! Again, it’s best to have everyone have their backs to the sun so no-one is squinting.

When taking photos, can make-up help to make your eyes sparkle?

Light, shimmery make up will catch the light and help make your eyes sparkle!

Which kind of light is best for your eyes?

In the summer, direct sun is often too bright and is likely to make you squint and frown with the effort of keeping your eyes open. The best (and most flattering) kind of light is reflected light, so stand with your back to the sun, facing a bright patch of ground or wall – for example, pavement or sand. Even a white wall or white car will do! The light bouncing off the ground/wall and from the the sky above will be enough to fill your eyes with pretty bright catchlights from both above and below. The more bouncing light you have around you, the better and more luminous the photo!

However, if it is a cloudy day, then it is possible to face the sun, as the direct sunshine is softened and diffused by the cloud cover, giving a lovely soft look to photos. On these days make sure your face is slightly tilted up, as the only light source is the sky above (the sun is not strong enough on cloudy days to bounce off the ground).

When taking a photograph, how should you angle your face to best achieve a strong eye?

What you want is for your eyes to be full of pretty sparkling light, so don’t look down at the ground, but angle your face up slightly up towards the camera. It helps if the person with the camera is standing at an angle slightly higher than you. This also helps your eyes to look bigger and wider (as your eyes are nearer the camera than other parts of the face).

Awesome, thanks Heather!

About Heather Neilson:

Heather previously worked as a lawyer for almost a decade in London (and latterly the Cayman Islands), before leaving her corporate suits and heels behind to learn the art of toddler wrangling, newborn baby-whispering and the business of being a professional photographer. You can check out here website here.