Spice Things Up with The Westcott Eyelighter

For years my family and friends have been my photography subjects. It’s typical for me to say, “STOP! The light looks really good right here, let me take a picture!”. One family member, however, hasn’t let me ever photograph her. I’ve asked and I’ve begged my older sister, Emily, to be my subject, but she’s always said no. I was shocked and surprised when she approached me recently and asked if I could take a few headshots for her.

Being the younger sister, I’ve always wanted to show my sister what I can do. She’s seen my work before but never expressed much interest. I knew I wanted to go all out for this shoot for her. My goal was beauty photography—something I had never done before. Luckily, I’ve sat in a few courses at The Learning Studio that prepared me for this.

One of the beauty photography classes I’ve sat in on emphasized the use of the Westcott Eyelighter. I’m usually not one for strange, new modifiers, but this one blew me away. For all those looking to budget for a beauty photography shoot, invest in the Eyelighter. With just one light above the subject, this modifier reflects light underneath the subject, eliminating shadows and cutting back on the contrast. This is especially important for women in beauty photography for softening the face.  Not only does it cut down on shadows on the face, but it also enhances the eyes, which really makes them pop.  This is due to the curvature of the Eyelighter which mimics the curvature of the eye to produce this catch light.  Check out the difference below!


For my first set up, I went with a light and beauty dish with cap and grid above the subject at about a 45 degree angle. Underneath the subject, I mounted the Eyelighter on a light stand.  When using the Eyelighter, it is important to place it about an arms length away from the subject (approximately 30 inches from the middle of the subject’s face).  For a hair light, I introduced a smaller strip box with grids back left of the subject.  This first set up was done with a black backdrop for a more low key, dramatic effect.


The Ultimate Set up

For the second set up, we switched out the dramatic black background out for a white backdrop for some high key photography.  I shot through a 7′ Parabolic White umbrella with a direct light bouncing off of the background.



After a few shots without the Eyelighter, we added it back in for some shots with less contrast.  The white backdrop paired with the Eyelighter  and umbrella produced the exact results I was looking for.  I also noticed that it made the skin look better.


Our very own instructor at Midwest Photo Exchange, Aaron Sheldon, took the Eyelighter to a shoot recently and talked about the ease of use in a small space.  Although the Eyelighter is a rather large reflector, with it and a soft box overhead, he was able to condense his setup as well as get the optimal shot.  Below is his set up, which used a soft box instead of the umbrella that I used (which is a good idea when spaces are tight).

Setup 1

From his experience, he said the Eyelighter “is well-made, easy to assemble, transport and store and was very easy to use with almost no learning curve.”  I’d have to agree with the assembly and ease of use.  I’m not an expert at studio lighting, but this reflector made me feel like a professional.  Without much fuss, it was easy to put together (much different than my experience with soft boxes).  The goal Aaron had was a little different than mine as he used a male in his image and had a different feel than a beauty photography shoot.  Below is his result!


As you can see, the Eyelighter is the perfect addition to your lighting set up no matter what you’re shooting.  From beauty photography to company headshots, this gets the job done without hassle!

Check out this video from Westcott about how the inventor of the Eyelighter uses the product against a white and black backdrop: 

Looking for a class that will teach you lighting?  Come check out our lighting classes at our Learning Studio!

 New class just added on January 17th for Off Camera Flash Modification for Portraits!


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