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10+ Tips for Photographing People in Glasses and Avoiding Glare


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Have you ever tried taking pictures of someone wearing glasses?

When my daughter Ellie got her first pair of glasses in early 2011, I found a new photography challenge.  Since she wears glasses all the time, it is important for her self-esteem to photograph them on her.  Since it is harder to photograph someone in glasses than without them, I had to learn how to avoid and embrace glasses glare.

I had no idea how challenging it would be until I started taking snapshots and portraits. The light reflects off the glass and hides the eyes. It sometimes creates odd green colors on the surface or reflections coming from every direction.

After much practice in the past year here are tips to help you photograph people in glasses:

1. Look for the light. Just as you do when looking for catchlights, look for glare on glasses too. This is tricky but watch as the light and glare hits the glass. Rotate or turn the head slightly as needed. Sometimes finding just the right shaded area blocking light helps too.

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2. Photo-journalistic or story-telling. If your subject is not looking directly at you, usually you will have less glare or it just becomes less important.

Ellie looking away from the camera.

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Ellie looking down:

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3. Tilt the head. I am 100% sure Ellie gets tired of hearing me say tilt your head down or angle your head this way. Tilting or angling the subject’s head down slightly helped to get rid of glare in many situations. The only potential negative is that sometimes the eyes get cut off by the glasses. And the entire eye and lid is not showing through the glass. But this to me is still better than reflections in many cases.

In this first photograph, see the greenish glare over her eyes?

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In the second image, her head is tilted down and at an angle.  It is a trade off and often, I will snap a few of each type.

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4. Shade them. Use a hat or something from above to partially or completely block certain beams of light causing the problem.

For this super silly photo, Ellie has a hat on. There is light glare on the sides but none covering the main part of her eyes.

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5. Remove the lenses.  This is not something I have done personally. But many photographers have the subject pop out the glass from the frames. This way you capture the subject how they look, but without glare. This makes it super easy for the photographer, but who wants to remove lenses from a frame? Not me. I’d ruin them…

Used in this project and related actions:


6. Angle the glasses. Another trick photographers sometimes use to avoid glare, rather than having the subject tilt his/her head, is to actually angle the glasses. Instead of resting the back of the glasses on the ears, they are lifted above them, which tilts the glasses downward. This sometimes looks awkward so it is not a method I use.

7. Take your time. Explain to your subject that glasses often reflect light and other objects, so you may need to pose them in ways to avoid light covering their eyes and causing distractions.  Take your time while shooting.  It is way harder to get rid of glare and white spots on glasses in post processing and Photoshop.

8. Take them off. When I got glasses in college, I always took them off for photos. For people who only wear glasses occasionally, this is the easiest way.  But it is not a great solution for people who have worn glasses for a long time or, in my opinion, for kids.  You do not want a kid to feel something is “wrong” with them just because they wear glasses.  In my daughter’s situation, if I asked her to “take them off,” even if it makes photographing her easier, it might send a message that she is not as pretty with them or that glasses are too much trouble. I would never want to damage her self-confidence.  So unless she happens not to wear them, they stay on. Also, if you are a professional photographer, unless your customer does not want glasses on, it is not a great idea to suggest removal.  Before you start taking money for your photography, make sure you can shoot a subject with glasses if needed.

9. Sunglasses. One of the easiest ways to shoot in the sun is when the subject has sunglasses on. This is a great way to handle outdoor snapshots, though it may not be a solution for professional photographers for portrait sessions.

10. Embrace glare. Sometimes, especially on open sun and when subjects are with multiple people, it is impossible to avoid. The biggest goal is not to have bright spots of light covering the eyes, but if the light hits on other parts of the glasses, it is not always a bad thing. And even if it does, sometimes the photo still works. How could I possibly dispose of this image just because of the light?

And if I asked Ellie to tilt her head, it would have ruined the essence.

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If all else fails, there’s always Photoshop:

  • Try the burn tool set to a low flow to darken the haze caused by glasses
  • Use a Photoshop action like the MCP Eye Doctor to sharpen, lighten or darken parts of the eyes, just where it is needed. Sometimes you will find only one eye needs darkening or sharpening since the light affects one lens more than the other.
  • Use the clone tool, patch tool and healing tool, as needed for removal of small bits of flare at a time.  These tools can be tricky and time consuming, but also effective.
  • On rare occasions, you may have one eye that is fine and one with bad glare.  You can duplicate the good eye and sometimes replace the bad one, with good layer masking and transforming.
  • If you are not strong in Photoshop, you can always hire a professional retoucher who can make almost any problem go away, for a price.


No Comments

  1. Ashley on May 9, 2012 at 9:07 am

    Loved these tips, great visuals also 🙂 Thanks

  2. kelly mcknight on May 9, 2012 at 9:12 am

    LOVE this info – thanks for posting it. I have a special needs daughter w/ glasses and she is SOOO often asked to take them off which makes me CrAzY – since she is a full-time glasses kiddo. I also appreciate the ’embrace glare’ point because sometimes that is as good as it gets ! LOVE your blog and I keep printing and tagging your posts as my love with me new camera continues …

  3. Jenny on May 9, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Thank you for these tips. Six of our seven family members in my immediate family wear glasses and this is something we battle in every shoot. I appreciate you taking the time to share what you’ve learned.

  4. emily on May 9, 2012 at 9:58 am

    great tips, Jodi! i use a lot of these, but reminders are great!

  5. Meaghan on May 9, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Thnak you SO MUCH for this post! My daughter began wearing bifocals just after her second birthday last fall, and I have struggled with this issue ever since.

  6. Juan Ozuna on May 9, 2012 at 10:22 am

    Really great tips! Do you think a circular polarizer filter would also help with glare from glasses?

  7. Diane on May 9, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Great post. Some simple solutions that are very doable.

  8. Marcella on May 9, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    This is really helpful. My son has glasses and its a problem at times. However, he has a tendency to look over his lenses at me b/c he’s a little camera shy. This creates THE most adorable pictures.I take lots of pictures outside b/c of the light but his lenses are transitions that turn into sunglasses. Any tips on how to deal with that? I usually end up doing some with and some without b/c of the sunglasses look.Oh and you daughter is perfection in the hat picture. I love it.

  9. Marcella on May 9, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Opps I forgot the picture!

  10. danelle on May 9, 2012 at 11:57 am

    #3 is what i always do to my 8 year old. Everyone thinks she is so cute in all the photos i take of her or when she is in a group and tilts her head. little do they know i have drilled it into her when she got classes 4 years ago.

  11. Heather Beck on May 9, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    I was wondering the same thing as Juan about the circular polarizer. I haven’t shot anyone with glasses yet, but I have one coming up in a couple weeks. I’m also wondering how to focus on the eyes through the glasses with a shallow depth of field.

  12. Sarah Crespo on May 9, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Great tips! Thanks!

  13. Tineka on May 9, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    Thanks…. Little Mr 3 wears glasses and these suggestions really help.

  14. Alice C. on May 9, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    Awesome tips!! I’ll have to keep these in mind.

  15. Peggy S on May 9, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    Your daughter is a beauty and she looks classy in glasses. Thank you for posting this. Your comments are right on, and the tips are easy to use.

  16. Marisa on May 10, 2012 at 12:14 am

    Perfect timing! My 8yr old just got full-time glasses. She asked me for a photo of her to put in her new album, and I suggested several we had already printed. She said, “But I want one of me with my glasses,” and the tone in her voice told me that she had completely adopted the glasses as being part of her now. She has handled this transition so well, she definitely deserves an updated portrait, and I will show her this post so she can be on board with my directions. Thank you!

  17. Delbensonphotography on May 10, 2012 at 1:23 am

    I love the images. The models are such a beautiful kids. This is very awesome tips. Thanks for sharing your ideas with us. Will definitely keep this in mind.

  18. Joe Gilland on May 10, 2012 at 5:26 am

    Excellent tutorial, Jodi! Thank you for sharing these tips and your techniques. The pics are awesome. Recently I’ve had to start wearing glasses full time, which is an adjustment from our side of the lens too. -Joe

  19. Claire Lane on May 16, 2012 at 4:42 am

    Great tips! My 6 year old wears glasses full-time and I’ve had to learn a lot of these things the hard way. Another thing to be aware of in asking them to take the glasses off or pop the lenses out is that many kids have a squint without them, so another reason this isn’t really an option 🙂

  20. Christina G on May 17, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Good tips–it’s always a struggle!

  21. Jean on June 12, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Love this!

  22. Heather on September 13, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    i was wondering if you have had any experiance with transition glasses? i have a senior shoot outdoors and im afraid that he will be looking like he is wearing sunglasses the whole time

    • Jodi Friedman, MCP Actions on September 14, 2012 at 10:07 am

      Honestly, I would highly recommend not having customers wear transitions for the reason you mention. There is no way for them not to turn if in sunlight.

  23. Pam Paulus on October 11, 2012 at 10:56 am

    As an employee of an eyewear provider I would suggest that you always have some sort of non-glare coating put on your lenses. They have improved greatly over the years and the benefits are far beyond not having the glare on the lenses in photos. One, it improves the glare coming into the eye and can greatly improve vision,especially while driving and under certain lighting conditions such as in an office. It also will help the beautiful eye be more visible in person! If you’ve ever had a conversation with a person in glasses under florescent lighting the glare may be so bad that it’s distracting. Many people opt to not put this on their childrens glasses,but they need it just as much if not more. With more useage of Whiteboards and Smartboards in the classroom kids are having more and more trouble with glare issues well before the age that driving becomes an issue. I think your tips are great and agree with you on the Transitions issue (there is no way around them darkening in sunlight),but I thought I would just offer a different type of solution.

  24. Jeni on October 11, 2012 at 10:58 am

    What about glare in indoor or night photos from the flash?!? This drives me bonkers since I have not been able to figure out how to avoid with my 5yo daughter. But thank you for the tips for outdoor light! Very helpful!

  25. Julian Marsano on November 30, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Thanks so much–that last part about ’embracing glare’ is one of the hardest to learn. Technically correct photographs have their place, but often the deepest, most meaningful images are full of ‘errors’. They succeed because they capture significance and spontaneity. -Julian

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