On Photographing People who Wear Eyeglasses

How to photograph people who’re wearing glasses.

A Few Ideas on Photographing People Who Wear Eyeglasses

When photographing people, oftentimes we end up having to photograph people who wear eyeglasses. A few issues we can encounter when photographing subjects who’re wearing glasses could include glare, the reflections in the glasses and/or the shadows of the frames.

So, what can we do about it?

We can either (try) to eliminate the glare (and/or frame shadow) or, if that’s not possible, we can also try to work with it and get creative while using it.

So, here are a few ideas of how to photographing people who’re wearing eyeglasses:

Tell the subject to take off their glasses and hold them in their hand(s), give the subject’s hands something to do (which, btw, is a good idea)

Photographing Men. Photo by Alina Oswald.

Pop out the lenses…something that might work only if allowed to do so and without damaging the eye wear.

Ask the subject to push the glasses down their nose…or to tilt their head (the pose could work, depending on the photo shoot…think “teacher” looking over the glasses, etc)

Author, activist Henry Goldring photographed by Alina Oswald for A&U Magazine.

And also, have fun with it:

Or, for a different pose, have the subject adjust their own eyeglasses and photograph while they’re doing so–this gives their hands something to do and oftentimes eliminates glare and frame shadows. (you have to watch for it, for the glare to vanish away)

self-portrait

One problem with photographing eyeglasses is glare, which, in turn, can be quite distracting. Try to avoid glare by choosing a large(r) light source and to adjust the height and move that light source (diffused, soft light would help even more) to the side of the subject until the glare disappears.

Oftentimes, another problem with photographing eyeglasses (or people wearing eyeglasses) is capturing shadows of the eyeglasses (the frames) on the subject’s face. Try to avoid that by changing the pose and/or using a reflector to soften the shadows.

While shooting outdoors, photographing people who’re wearing eyeglasses, it might be helpful to choose an overcast day. The cloud cover usually offers a more evenly spread, diffused light.

Author Hans M. Hirschi photographed by Alina Oswald.
Author Hans M. Hirschi photographed by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.

When shooting indoors, on location, try bouncing your flash (if flash is allowed). If not, use the light available to you–oftentimes the natural daylight coming through a window and/or the ceiling light(s)…

Actor Steven Skybell (Fiddler on the Roof, Wicked, The Full Monty), who plays Tevye, talks about the revival of Fiddler on the Roof, at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. Photographed by Alina Oswald for A&U Magazine.
Academy award-winner Joel Grey directs the all-star cast American premier of the Yiddish language Fiddler on the Roof. Here, Joel Grey talks to the press before starting rehearsals, at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. Photographed by Alina Oswald for A&U Magazine.

…or stage lights in a dark room.

Tony Kushner awarded at Workmen's Circle winter benefit. Photo by Alina Oswald.
Award-winning playwright, Tony Kushner, receives the Workmen’s Circle Activism Award on December 10, 2018, in NYC. Photographed by Alina Oswald for Out IN Jersey Magazine.

If there’s no way to eliminate shadows of the frames, use them to emphasize the subject’s personality instead. For example, when capturing the image posted below, I was pretty far away from the subject–award-winning playwright Tony Kushner, receiving the Workmen’s Circle Activism Award–and the only lights available were the stage lights. The only thing that I could do to try to minimize the shadow was to wait for the right pose (and the subject to look at the camera), at how the light fell on the subject in that particular moment, and try to minimize the possible distraction caused by the shadow.

Playwright Tony Kushner receives the Activism and Jewish Culture Award on December 10, 2018, in NYC, at the Workmen’s Circle winter benefit. Photographed by Alina Oswald for Out IN Jersey Magazine.

When photographing indoors, on location, using studio lights, try moving the light(s) and/or get the subject to turn/tilt their head. Consider incremental changes. Try adjusting the height of the light source(s) so that it’s above the eyeglass/eye level and move it/them slightly to the side (of the subject). Work with the subject and, throughout the photo shoot, try to use the subject’s eyeglasses to emphasize the their personality.

And, same goes for shooting your subject in studio:

Author, singer/songwriter and advocate Henry Goldring photographed for A&U Magazine by Alina Oswald.

When photographing in studio, allow light source reflections to show in the eyeglasses and give a behind-the-scenes look at how the photograph was created. This works best when photographing people wearing sunglasses.

Photographing Men. Studio portrait photography by Alina Oswald.
Photographing Men. Photo by Alina Oswald.
Fitness photo shoot. German flag fitness wear. Photo by Alina Oswald.
Fitness Editorial photo shoot. Photo by Alina Oswald.
Split Lighting – Studio Portrait by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.

When photographing people wearing sunglasses outdoors, reflections can also offer a behind-the-scenes look of the scene the subject is actually looking at while being photographed.

Lean on Me. Men's Fashion Photo by Alina Oswald.
Men’s Fashion. Photo by Alina Oswald.
Lean on Me. Men's Fashion Photo by Alina Oswald.
Men’s Fashion. Photo by Alina Oswald.
Trying on new glasses.
Trying on new sunglasses.
hand holding eyeglasses. photo by Alina Oswald.
Hold my glasses.

These are only a few ideas of how to photograph people who’re wearing eyeglasses. After all, there are plenty of us out there 🙂

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Alina Oswald

  1. Interesting post. After 40 years of wearing contact lenses I had to go back to very thick glasses in 2010 and my eyes are very distorted in a photo (when I’m wearing glasses). I’ve never managed to solve the issue in trying to make a portrait for my gravatar.

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    1. Hi Vicki, and appreciate your note! Well, I’ve been wearing glasses since I was a teenager…. There was a time, many, many years ago, when I switched to contact lenses, but lately, I’ve been wearing glasses. It’s easier on the eyes, I think…. And when photographing people who’re wearing glasses, I need to take a few additional things into consideration. Hence, the idea behind this post. Thanks again, very much! 🙂

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