I was asked recently what ‘catchlight’ meant in portraits.  Trying to describe it seemed to be a bit cumbersome so I thought I’d add these two portraits to illustrate – without and with.

Without catchlights

With catchlights

My model here, my daughter, has quite light irises so lack of a catchlight is not so bad.  However many subjects have really dark deep eyes and it helps to lift the eye from a black disk with just a spec of a light.

As matter of interest, these taken on medium format (120) black and white film, negative scan.  The original images were an exploration of portrait/fashion photography and this is a crop of full photograph – I suspect some will be able to guess from which image and photographer I took my inspiration.


8 thoughts on “Catchlights

  1. Loving the catchlights! But loving the “drama” without. It’s almost like two different emotions even though the facial expression is the same.
    Your daughter is beautiful by the way.

    • Thanks Kirsten. People aren’t the only things to warrant a catchlight, animals too. But put too much effort into enhancing what there is can completely ruin the picture if the work becomes too obvious – understated rather than over overstated is my approach.

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