Whether you’re behind the camera or in front of it, it takes skill and patience to navigate glare, fog and the right photo composition necessary for a successful outdoor photoshoot when glasses are involved. With cold and warm temperatures constantly in flux, depending on location, time of day, or whether you’re shooting outdoors or inside, photography with glasses presents unique sets of challenges many professionals face.
Let’s discuss both sides of the lens; working behind the camera with your glasses on and photographing a subject that is wearing them. We’ll start with some tips for how glasses-wearers can confidently work with their equipment and their frames, and then explore how to best capture glare and light through a camera if the subject is wearing a pair.
When taking a photo with a DSLR camera, a photographer needs to get as close to the optical viewfinder as possible to get a good shot—but that can be difficult for a bespectacled shutterbug and depends on the style you wear and your prescription. Cold temperatures can leave your lenses foggy as you breathe; the opposite of what glasses are supposed to do for you. These tips are meant for those who want to level-up their photography game, from your everyday smartphone captures, to an amateur hobbyist level with professional gear.
Some photographers keep their frames on while shooting, pushing up as close as possible to the viewfinder. If there is no trouble seeing or any discomfort, they proceed with shooting. This does have the potential to scratch the lenses of your glasses, so be sure you have a soft flexible eyepiece shell to prevent damage. Be careful! You are the most familiar with the fit and feel of your eyewear; navigate moving in close to your viewfinder only if you have confidence and experience.
Often, fogging up can happen when the frame fit isn’t correct, so make sure to ask your eyecare professional to check to make sure it is. You can also ask your eye doctor for scratch-proof coating on your next set of lenses as an extra precaution.
A quick at-home fix that has seen success is washing your glasses in soap, letting them dry and then gently buffing out the glass. The soap creates a thin film on the surface and alleviates some pesky issues.
Taking photos with smartphones really helps those with glasses. The large screens are your viewfinder – and the camera functionality in phones are more than what is needed for the average everyday photographer. But for those looking to explore more than the everyday:
A diopter is a setting for the camera’s viewfinder that can imitate the effect of wearing glasses. It is often a dial next to the viewfinder with a +/- sign. Check your camera’s user guide to determine where to find it on your DSLR. If you adjust the diopter to the same level as your prescription, you can simply take off your glasses and start snapping away. For those who are farsighted, you will use the “+” to bring the image into focus. Use the “-” if you are nearsighted.
This may not work if you have a particularly strong prescription (that requires greater than six prism diopters, for example), so you may not be able be able to adjust it enough for clear sight. Some professionals prefer to switch to contact lenses for the duration of the shoot. Though that may not always be an option, it’s something worth discussing with your eye doctor.
Remember, it you’re taking your glasses on and off for photoshoots, be mindful to set them down in a safe place, lenses up. Another option is a stylish cord lanyard to hold the frames around your neck for easy access.
Picture a correction lens as giving your viewfinder its own set of glasses. You can visit a camera store, or search online, to find the right strength of lens. You’ll need to know your prescription first, so be sure to ask your optometrist for that information.
The corrector can be installed right over the viewfinder of the camera. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes for any fit. Once you set this up, you’ll be able to look into the camera without your glasses and see with perfect clarity.
Due to its size, the digital display screen on the back of your camera can be easier to see than through the viewfinder. Its possible to maneuver the screen up and down and often offers a touch screen with additional levels of precision targeting and light control.
However, as you must hold the camera away from your body to see the image, overtime, it can be an uncomfortable way to take a photo and may cause your arms to shake. Many professional photographers say the human eye can pick up details a digital screen can’t, so this may not work in the long term, but is a quick solution on the fly.
Snow and a bright winter sun make for brilliant photography but can have an overwhelming effect on a camera and photographer. Polarized camera filters can be bought to reduce glare directly on your lens, and if you adjust your camera settings to shoot in RAW, the files will be less condensed and you’ll be able to edit your photos in greater detail, but what about your eyes?
Sunglasses are often considered summer wear, but it’s even more vital to protect your eyesight in the winter, when the sun is being reflected from every direction across snow and ice. There are several options you can discuss with your eye doctor. Choosing a pair of prescription sunglasses is the obvious choice, and adding a polarized coating is a smart choice. Polarized lenses are designed to block and limit horizontal light waves to reduce the glare created on long flat surfaces (sheets of snow and ice-covered roadways) that you're likely to encounter. You can also opt for a transition lens, which are a versatile option for many with prescription eyewear.
Remember to protect your eyesight first, even screen glare can be tiring. Snow and ice glare is much stronger, and wearing the correct eye protection during a photoshoot will benefit your eyes and your work outside in the long run.
If you’re preparing for a shoot with a subject who wears glasses, these next tips will help you start and finish strong. There are a number of effective ways to capture people in the best light while avoiding glare or reflection from their eyewear. It can be tricky and take some patience to find the right angle and approach, but these tried-and-true techniques can help you create a flawless photo:
To start, position your subject in their chosen pose. Use the viewfinder to determine if you can see any reflections or glares from your light source bouncing off the lenses. Try a few sample shots and check to see whether the glasses have caused any light flares. If they have, try the following steps.
A simple solution, but a useful one; tilting the head around will angle the glasses, so the sun, lighting, or camera flash won’t bounce directly off them. This may take a few tries before you get it right, so don’t be afraid to take sample shots and adjust as you go and check every time you snap a photo and keep record of which position works best.
Ensure your light source is above or behind the subject, and don’t be afraid to play with it. Establish that there is nothing directly across from them or at the same level as the glasses. If shooting in low-light, use a creative camera angle to ensure the flash is not flush with the subject’s eye level. Experiment with getting higher or lower than the person you’re capturing; don’t be afraid to move about your surroundings – you will also get more comfortable with your camera as your test what works and what doesn’t. Practice makes perfect!
If you’re shooting outside and the sun is causing a lot of glare, investing in an anti-glare filter can be the solution. If your budget makes this purchase prohibitive, or an impromptu shoot has left you minimally equipped, try something as simple as putting a hat on the subject, or have them stand under a shady tree or awning to divert the sun’s rays from their eyeglasses.
Winter glare is a real problem, so check out our tip above for photographers wearing glasses to find out how you can combat it in other ways.
At the end of the day, amazing shots take time, patience and practice. We hope this advice can make your next photoshoot successful and give you tools at your disposal to troubleshoot a variety of situations that you’ll encounter
If you need new glasses or are looking for advice on how to protect your glasses when you take photos, book a consultation with your nearest FYidoctors.