No matter where you are photographing, there’s almost always going to be some element of light that is not ideal. Overhead sunlight can be too harsh and cast unwanted shadows; shade can make images look less dynamic. Indoors, it can be even tougher to get light to hit your subject just as you want. Even if you’re using studio lighting, it can be very helpful to invest in some photo reflectors, which give you much more control over light sources. These handy sheets come in all kinds of colors, but the most popular are reflective silver, white to produce a softer light, gold to add warmth, and black to subtract light. Best of all, reflectors can help to significantly reduce your editing time.
1. Glow 5-in-1 Collapsible Reflector
For avid photographers who are often on the go and like to have many reflectors at the ready, Glow’s collapsible reflectors are worth every penny. Lightweight but sturdy, these oblong tools are easy to hold and switch out. You get one translucent disc, which diffuses light and also serves as a support structure for the four reflectors. These come in the form of a double-sided, reversible cover that you slip over the disc, so you can use white or silver by simply flipping the disc. Or, you can invert the cover to use black and gold at the same time. Once done, the pieces fold into a third of their size and slip into a carry bag.
2. Foleto Cardboard Folding Reflector
Foleto’s folding reflector might just be the ticket if you’re looking to purchase reliable light control for product photography. Made of a reflective board just 0.1-inch thick, it resembles an open card and can stand freely while you shoot. One side has two white panels, while the other side has one black panel and one silver panel. Depending on how you position the board, you can easily reflect, fill in, diffuse, soften, or block light. Plus, once you’re done with it, it barely takes up space in storage.
3. Neewer 5-in-1 Light Reflector
This five-in-one set can’t match the solid construction and durability of Glow reflectors, but it does offer a great variety of effects at a more affordable price. You get a diffuser as well as the four good-quality common reflective surfaces—silver, gold, white, and black. The dual-sided, zippered design is similar to Glow’s, except that black and gold share one flap, and white and silver share the other. This means that, if you tend to frequently use white and silver, you’ll have to unzip the disc to switch between them each time.
4. Westcott Optical Umbrella
If you’re looking for an umbrella-shaped reflector, we like Westcott’s, which is solidly made and versatile. It features a sturdy, fiberglass shaft that has some flex but isn’t easily snapped and a removable black cover. This means you can either use it to reflect light or expose the white shell to use as a shoot-through. The shape provides excellent light distribution and is a reliable way to soften a harsh light source. This umbrella also opens and closes with ease.
5. Photoflex MultiDisc
If you’re willing to spend more to really cut down on post-processing time, Photoflex’s multi-disc reflectors are an impressive bunch that can tackle any imperfect lighting situation. You get seven assistants that take the form of a translucent disc and two double-sided, reversible covers. One features white on both sides, paired with soft gold and sunlite, which is a shimmery gold that’s ideal for skin tones; the second features silver on both sides, paired with black and gold. Each surface is twice-laminated to provide stronger reflective power and durability, and they stay completely flat when handled to ensure even lighting. When you’re ready to pack up, simply fold them into one-third of their size.