1 Simple Trick To Improve Your Images Right Now

Today’s post is part of blog series in which we get the privilege of answering some of the questions we have gotten about photography, marriage and life! We know there are so many other amazing photographers out there who would know the answers far better than we ever could. But it’s not about us. It’s not about how good or not good we might be in comparison to someone else. It’s about serving. And if this series helps one person, it was worth it! You can catch up on the series here:

#1 | Where Do I Start?
#2 | Needle In A Haystack
#3 | A Natural Feel
#4 | 4 Keys To A Consistent Style
#5 | 5 Questions To Answer Before Going Full-Time
#6 | 3 Ways To Light Beautiful Reception Images
#7 | 1 Simple Trick To Improve Your Images Right Now
#8 | 3 Tips To Thrive On A Double-Header Weekend

Hey Ryan & Alyssa!

Super simple question here I hope! How can I get my photos to look better when I have no natural reflectors? Let me explain! So, I often find myself in a situation where I am shooting in a field of green grass or sometimes on dark asphalt and that is really affecting the images of my clients. I get shadows under the eyes or I get color casts from the grass, etc. and it’s hard to fix later! Do I just need to stick with natural reflectors or am I missing something? THANK YOU!!!


Ok, so this is awesome! This was a question we had for the longest time and could never find anyone talking about it! We almost resigned ourselves to the “fact” that we would need to shoot on natural reflectors always or deal with the color casts and shadows later. BUT…we found a solution and we can’t wait to share it with you!

First, let’s define some terms and explain a few quick things so we are on the same page.

Natural Reflectors

Natural reflectors are our friends. When we talk about natural reflectors, we are talking about anything that naturally occurs in whatever environment we are entering. Now, scientifically speaking everything we can see is reflecting light. That’s how we can see it with our eyes. But when we enter the photography world, we want a natural reflector to be a light, neutral color, and most preferably, the greatest of all natural reflectors, WHITE!!! For instance, if we have to choose between having our couple stand on a light-colored sidewalk or a dark asphalt road, we will choose the sidewalk every time (and not just because we don’t want to see them get hit by a car, although that too!). Why? Because if the light from the sun is going to bounce off the ground and back into our couple’s faces, we want that light to be as close to pure white light as possible. The sidewalk gives us the best light!

Take the image below for example. We shot this in a long alleyway. As you can see, we are completely in shade. There is no direct light from the sun. So where is the light coming from? It’s bouncing off the light-colored ground upon which Kyla & Keaton are standing and it’s bouncing off the light grey wall beside and behind them. So, in this case, we have TWO amazing natural reflectors, giving us great quality of light! Imagine we replaced the ground and the wall with brick instead. The light would be reflecting a red-ish brown color. That’s not the BEST lighting situation to make our couple look amazing. Can it be done? Yes! But it’s not ideal.


Want to see something SUPER interesting in relation to this topic? Go look at our wedding and engagement portfolios right now. When you can see the ground in any of these images, what do you notice? What theme sticks out to you? You should notice that 90% of the time, our couples are on a light, neutral-colored ground. Guys, that’s not an accident!!!

So, let’s recap so far. In an ideal situation, we want to use whatever light, neutral-colored natural reflectors we can to make our couples look natural and amazing.

But, now let’s get to your real question at hand here! What about when the conditions are NOT ideal? What if your client wants to do their session in a grassy field with no natural reflectors? What if the only good spot for portraits on a wedding day is on a red brick path? That’s ok!!! No worries! As photographers, we have to learn to deal with non-ideal situations. That’s one of the differences between a professional and a weekend warrior!

Artificial Reflectors

When we are handed a non-ideal lighting situation in which there are little-to-no natural reflectors, we turn to our (not-so-secret) secret weapons: Artificial Reflectors!!!

We use artificial reflectors in two basic ways: One conventional way and one way that no one ever told us, but we figured out as we pursued a better way to solve this problem.

The conventional way is this. We have a 40″ 5-in-1 Westcott reflector that we use mainly to bounce light into our subjects’ faces. It can block out reflections from a less-than-ideal natural reflector and replace them with reflections from a pure white reflector! We use this so often when it’s a cloudy day as well! However, the problem this setup caused was that one of us always had to be holding the reflector in the right place while the other was shooting. Not a huge deal, but one that we felt could be avoided more often with a better solution.

That’s when we discovered a new way to do the same thing! And if you’re wondering when we are going to get to “1 Simple Trick To Improve Your Images Right Now”, well, your train has finally arrived!

Here’s what we did. We bought a 48″ x 72″ Westcott Diffuser. It’s taller than Ryan (by 2 inches)!!! But it folds down to fit into a very small bag so it’s super convenient to take with us everywhere.

So how do we use it? Let’s use a real-life example. A few months ago, we did Nevin & Laura’s engagement session up in Asheville, NC. If you look at that session, we had gorgeous natural reflectors for the first half of the session. We had neutral walls and light-colored ground. Perfect! But in the second half, we didn’t have any of those things. We had a beautiful background, but the best place for our subjects to stand was on a large stretch of green grass. We were faced with a non-ideal situation. But never fear! One of us could’ve held the 40″ reflector to block out the slight green color cast and take away the shadows under their eyes. But we would’ve missed out on some beautiful images with only one of us shooting. So, instead, we opened up our 48″ x 72″ diffuser and laid it on the ground in front of Nevin and Laura. That blocked a significant portion of the green grass reflections and replaced them with a perfect white reflection into Nevin & Laura’s faces. Below is a side-by-side comparison straight out of camera. Nothing has changed in the settings of our camera at all! The only difference between these two images is dropping the reflector in front of them. Look at the difference in the light on their faces and especially in their eyes! Huge!!! We didn’t get a wide shot of the reflector on the ground that day but below you can see a few behind the scenes of other times we have used this same technique. Works every time!

greenville-wedding-photography_1973 greenville-wedding-photography_1974

Simple right? It solves so many problems! Putting our large reflector on the ground gives us both the ability to shoot while blocking out color casts and reflecting pure, neutral light into our subjects’ faces! Is it going to block everything? Definitely not. It won’t block all of the green color casts from a field of grass. That’s why choosing a location with a natural reflector is always better. But if you use the diffuser properly, it will block enough of the green to take your images up a noticeable notch! We know from experience! You can also use the smaller 40″ reflector in addition if you can have an assistant hold it (or your second shooter if you shoot with another person!) And the best part is, this particular diffuser is not that expensive! So if it get stepped on or slightly damaged like ours, it’s ok! If you saw ours, it has footprints and dirt on it in various places. But that’s fine! It just needs to reflect that beautiful white light and it always does!


Our suggestion is that you go try this today! You won’t be disappointed. It’s a small investment for a huge improvement in your images. Let us know how it goes!!!

Your friends,
Ryan & Alyssa

If anyone has any other questions, no matter how small, please don’t hesitate to email us your questions at! We would be humbled to try and answer your question as best we can!


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