How to Capture Bright Eyes

Eyes are the first thing you notice in any portrait. And the brighter, the better!

Queen of the catchlight, photographer Leslie Hunter, is ready to spill her secrets.

When I am taking a picture of someone I try to make his or her eyes as sharp as I can. I am going to share with you 4 techniques I have learned over the years to capture that glow or sparkle that can turn an OK picture into a great one. Before I do that I want to share with you a trick that will make finding the right light for these types of pictures easier.

There are 3 things I look for when choosing light. I always am looking at their eyes and letting their eyes tell me where to go. What I am looking for is (1) if I can see the color in their eyes (2) if their eyes are sparkling and (3) if both eyes are lit, it is not uncommon to see one eye sparkling and the other eye in the shade.

A quick trick I used when I was first starting out as a photographer, was to have them stand in the same spot and I would then take a picture of them facing a few different directions.

Then I would look at the pictures I just took on the display screen of my camera and zoom in on their eyes to see what direction made their eyes pop the most. When I see that sparkle I know that’s the direction I need to point them in.

My second technique I use is to have them look towards the light; this idea only works if the light isn’t too bright. The best time is either 1 hour after sunrise or 1 hour before sunset or in a shady area to avoid your subject from squinting. Sometimes, you will have people that have sensitive eyes and so this trick is a bit harder to try on them. If this is the case I will have my subjects’ close their eyes and then I count to 3 and have them open them. I tell them to try to keep their eyes open for as long as they can and then I get a couple shots at a time. Repeat this process until you get the right shot.

The third technique is to have them look up at me. As a family photographer I probably use this trick the most. Having kids look up towards you is something that comes naturally to them so it’s really easy, but I also have adults do this as well. Having them look up at you is so simple and it’s also a more flattering pose so you get the best of both worlds.

My last technique is to use a reflector. My reflector was worth every penny and it was only $25.00. The hard thing about using a reflector is finding someone to hold it for you. I have found a way to hold it myself, I’m sure I look completely awkward doing it but my pictures turn out so much better when I use it. Don’t leave your reflector at home just because you don’t have anyone to hold it, take it with you and experiment with different ways to set it up.

The best time to use this is when your subject is backlit, meaning the light is behind them. The reflector simply bounces the light back onto their faces and lights them up. I love that it looks natural and not flashy. There is a stark difference between my pictures when I use a reflector and when I don’t. The reflector always provides the best light to create glow or sparkle in your subject’s eyes.

These four simple techniques can really transform your photography but they take a bit of practice. Remember to always watch their eyes and let the sparkle help you choose the best light. Once you have this down you will be shooting portraits like a pro. Good luck and have fun.

Leslie Hunter is a photographer is the Davis County and surrounding areas, she specializes in Children and Family photography and has been working as a photographer for the past 6 years. Leslie’s passion for photography started with the birth of her first-born daughter 9 years ago. Her drive to become a photographer started because she was drawn to capturing that special connection that you get to see between parents and their children as well as the priceless expressions that you only get from young kids.

Leslie resides in Farmington with her wonderful husband of 11 years and her 3 beautiful girls that are most often the subjects of her photographs. You can find her website at and her Facebook page is

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