How to control reflections in your footwear photoshoots


Learn how to avoid unwanted reflections


In this tutorial, we’re going to go over reflections, highly reflective items, and how to deal with that for your lighting. Ideally, you’d want to mask out things you don’t want to see in a reflective shoe like reflections of lights, people or even furniture around. It is a usual occurrence that whenever photoshoots of shiny objects take place, you can see a lot of details within a shiny shoe that shouldn’t be there because of their reflective nature.

Light is our friend in this scenario and you need to know how to work it in order to avoid reflections that will mess up the images of your shiny product.

In this post we cover:

  • Controlling the reflections

  • Highlighting the product with light

  • Checking the reflections

You will need:

Ecommerce brand professional product photography

Control the reflections

Make sure your shoe is located in a good position for the first shot. Do a test run - you’ll be able to see whether there are unwanted reflections and if so where are they. That will help you adjust. Oftentimes, you can solve a problem like that by simply adding a white background.

PRO TIP: Get yourself a piece of cart, cut a hole in it and then use it so your lens can pop through there and erase all nasty reflections.

You can use a water bottle to support the cart and position it the right way that so it removes undesired shines. That way you’ll get a smooth nice reflection that actually looks good. With shiny shoes, their back side is always problematic so make sure to position your cart in the right way depending on your set because otherwise it won’t clean up the reflection.

You can add some black paper material behind the shoe - that will add more definition to the shoe’s side. See the video above for a step by step instruction how to do that. You can use glue to tape the different paper parts together so they don’t slip away.   


Highlight the product with light

Use your light to highlight different aspects of your shoe that are not so easy to capture on image, like plastic straps e.g.

Try putting your light on the right and then put your shoe on a reflective surface - it will give you a final image with a more luxurious feel. Experiment with different light angles as well until you get exactly what you’re after. And don’t forget to look carefully at your product in the images to see whether you’re not missing any nasty reflections.


Check the reflections

When shooting on a white surface, this tends to bleed out the edges of the product. To solve this, you could darken the light in the back, however that means you’d have to get really dark with light in order to do that and that way you’ll create a lot of work for yourself in post-production.

Take some black cart and either lay it down on the surface behind the shoe or put it on the side of the shoe, right beside it - that will block off the right amount of light coming towards your shoe.

Just make sure not to place it behind the shoe itself because it will once again create too much unnecessary work in post-production. Somewhere close to the shoe would do the job so you block off the reflection but don’t hide light from your object.


Overall, these techniques are very simple - some white and black carts can really help you deal with unwanted reflections and show off the bits of your product that you really want to highlight.


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