What are some effective techniques for photographing subjects who wear glasses?

I am sorting out my collection of digital images as I install new software, and find there are many images that would otherwise be really nice, if it weren't for eyes being distorted, or even cut out of view, because of the glasses people wear.

Both my parents wear glasses, and asking them to remove them is not an option when most pictures are candid and shot in the moment.

Is there anything I can do to remedy this problem?

  • 1
    Great question @kacalapy!
    – Tom
    Jan 13, 2011 at 3:28
  • Glad you asked, I run into this a lot... Unfortunately I typically get the photos afterwards and have to Photoshop the glare out, which is doable but tedious. Good to know how to deal with it while taking the shot.
    – Jane Panda
    Nov 17, 2011 at 16:20

6 Answers 6


Posting some examples will help us identify your problem, but if you're getting distortion because they're wearing very thick, corrective glasses - there's not alot you're going to be able to do.

If you're getting odd angles of reflected light, either change the angle of the light by moving the flash or tilting the subject's head.

Obviously you can also move the camera itself. Its about changing that angle that the light is reflecting off the glasses into the lens.

The strobist has an excellent article here: http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/04/lighting-101-lighting-for-glasses.html

Here's an example of changing the head's angle to avoid odd reflections from glasses: alt text

Here's an example of changing the light source (bounced off the ceiling here) angle: alt text

Doing candid shots means this is obviously much harder, you'll have to be distinctly aware of the angle of the light and your subject. It can be done, it just means putting a little more time into the shot when you have it.

  • in the bottom image do you have an on-camera flash? I can see a highlight on the rim of the lenses but the glass is perfectly transparent. Is the flash being bounced off the ceiling?
    – kacalapy
    Jan 13, 2011 at 16:11
  • @kacalapy - The flash is mounted on the camera, but pointed up into the ceiling.
    – rfusca
    Jan 13, 2011 at 16:13

Shifting the subject's head or shifting the camera (yourself) are both excellent options. If you run into a situation where you're not able to have the subject change the position or their head, or the camera's angle, a third option is to ask the subject to tilt their glasses a bit (by pushing the rims up off of their ears just a bit). This will angle the lenses downwards which can prevent many of the reflections that occur, and is unnoticeable in the pictures you'll be taking. The subject shouldn't have to angle them a lot; a small amount will often get rid of the reflections.

  • 1
    Good call - really it's just anything to shift that reflection angle.
    – rfusca
    Jan 13, 2011 at 5:49
  • 1
    Shifting the eyeglass frames a little bit is a good tip for when you have a rather static lighting setup - for example, shooting a series of portraits of different people.
    – gerikson
    Jan 13, 2011 at 6:24

I just photographed my niece this past weekend and found that going into a well shaded area really helped. I was able to get crystal clear shots of her with her glasses on.


You can use a polarizer to "see-through" the reflections in the glasses. It works for certain types of lighting (sunlight, for example), but not for all.

  • 2
    I'd not think to recommend a polarizer for indoor candid shots - it'd be very difficult to get right in time and you'll lose a few stops of light.
    – rfusca
    Jan 13, 2011 at 2:53
  • 1
    @rfusca - the OP did not restrict his question to indoor candid shots, as he said "most". I did mention that it is not an all-around solution and works in certain circumstances.
    – ysap
    Jan 13, 2011 at 3:12

You can often fairly easily remove the glass from glasses. That can make it easy to get improved shots. The eyes will only appear distorted if at certain angles, it's something you've just got to look out for.

As for candid shots, well, you've just got to pay attention, or make them posed candid shots, so...


One option, if you have a studio is to get different "cheap" glasses and remove the glass element. Have a prop collection.

Clean them with a good sanitizing towel before each use to prevent an infection.

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