Expert hour: learn how to take ‘reflections’ photographs

With our Photographic Reflections Competition starting this week, we thought it was high time we sat down a chatted to a pro to get some top tips. We collared John, a professional photographer and cameraman, to talk about how to take a stunning reflections photograph. Here is his advice: 

Focus on what's important

Decide what is going to be the subject, if what is reflected is going to enhance the subject, or become it. For example: if I am looking at a lake with a tree in the middle, is my subject the tree or is the subject and key focus the reflection itself, or perhaps both as vertical symmetry? Make sure there is always a subject and be specific with your composition so that the viewer understands what the main focus of the picture is.


Use high contrast areas for framing

Look for natural edges to frame your images, such as vertical lines to put at the far extremes of the picture, overhanging branches or encroaching foreground objects. Often with reflections there will be large areas of lightness in the reflection (the sky for example) against which other features are contrasted. You can use that contrast to aid framing and draw the viewer’s attention to specific areas of the photograph.


Use a polarising filter

You can use polarising filters to experiment with reflections. Polarising filters will allow you to manage reflections and suppress glare from reflective surfaces such as lakes or windows. A polarising filter works by filtering out the light which has been directly reflected towards the camera, this results in a more diffused light and deeper colour saturation. You can get circular or linear polarisers, depending on the reflective surface this can have different and interesting results. It's worth experimenting with these when taking pictures of reflections.


Using a tripod

These days, cameras are very sensitive, so using a tripod is not as vital as it once was—in fact the ability to move and reframe easily without being tied to a tripod is of far more value to a photographer. If you are shooting in low light conditions or using a long exposure the odds of a blurred image are greatly increased so using a tripod in dark environment is more necessary, and in low light situations shadows can create some interesting reflections, so it can be fun to play with light and shadow reflections.


Now you are armed with tips from a professional photographer, you can go forth and apply them. And who knows…it could be you that takes the winning photo in our Reflections Photography Competition.

There are some incredible prizes up for grabs including: £500 of vouchers, tuition at the London School of Photography, Framed prints of your photograph and a year’s subscription to Photography Monthly magazine. You can enter by visiting our Facebook page.

John’s final words of wisdom: reflections don’t have to be horizontal or vertical, experiment with different angles of reflection.

You can follow John on Twitter and Facebook or pop over to his website. 


Alex Wilkie
05 Sep 2014 11:42
great advice
08 Sep 2014 00:50
Really interesting, but a bit advanced for me.
Stuart Glegg
25 Mar 2015 21:45
Always really helpful
28 Apr 2016 08:42
the moon image is stunning

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