Creative Ways to Incorporate Reflections in Your Photography - Dreamstime

Utilizing reflections with photography can lift your images to another level. Everyone is familiar with Henri Cartier-Bresson and his image of a worker jumping across a puddle. The reflection of the man in the water creates a surreal look and has been a topic of discussion for decades among photographers and art critics.

It's apparent then that reflections can create a memorable photograph. Some photographers will find a unique location and then sit for hours to see what may happen. It takes great patience to wait for the right people or person to somehow interact with the scene. If you know of a place you might want to try doing street photography but if you go to a particular location after it rains then you may find optimal conditions to incorporate reflections from the wet pavement or puddles.

Today virtually all modern cities have giant glass office buildings and it's a common thing for photographers to create various types of abstracts with the reflections. It has become a cliche' to do these kinds of photographs so the challenge would be to can one photograph an office building reflection in new and fresh ways? Sunrises and sunsets and dark, stormy skies are rarely taken advantage of. Photographers usually snap a reflection and they're done. What if you tried different angles, different locations, and different times of the day? That winning photograph may be there if you look for it.

Everyone knows oceans, lakes, and rivers provide reflections and virtually everyone has taken pictures of water and the mirror effects from the surface. But again, different angles, locations, and time of day can matter. What's in the sky can also make or break an image. Vigilance is required to go back to a location multiple times in order to understand the dynamics. Great photography usually is not a quick snapshot. Knowing how the light and sky and people interact within a landscape and knowing when and where you should be is how you can capture that great photograph.

Other types of reflections are all around and even though we're aware of them, we forget to pay attention and use them. Building interiors can have marble and other types of facades that produce reflections. Windows on a house or the side of a car produce reflections. We see many examples of these type of photographs but not many are exceptional. If you practice with these types of reflections you can perhaps learn new techniques and discover a fresh way to take your photography to a new level.

If you go to and search on REFLECTION REFLECTION BALL, you fill find low-cost glass balls that some photographers have been experimenting with. The glass ball distorts and inverts the light giving additional opportunities to add reflection strategies to your photography.

If you have Photoshop or a similar photo editing application, you can add reflections to your photographs. For example, you photograph a person standing on dry pavement. If you create another layer, invert the image, and remove the background as needed, you can create a surreal reflection in the cement. You may want to change the opacity and erase a portion of the "reflective" later to make it more real. With software you can add your own reflections in whatever surface you're working with. Those glass office buildings can suddenly reflect anything your imagination can come up with.

Photographers have been using reflections in their images ever since the beginning of the camera but very few have mastered the dynamics and uniqueness of reflected light. If this is something of interest to you, spend the time to learn how it works and how you can forge a new path in a subject filled with cliche's.

Aging, Youth, Time Passing, Mirror, Old

Photo credits: Wisconsinart.

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February 16, 2020


Thank you Wisconsinart,  i enjoyed your article,  very interesting.. Kate

February 13, 2020


I'm always looking for those great reflections of birds wading in still water at sunrise or sunset. I hadn't thought of some of your other ideas. Thanks so much for writing! Enjoyed it. William 

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