creativity exercise: 5 tips for shooting through glass effectively

black and white child photography by kristabelle

This month’s creativity focuses on shooting through a glass window, door, windshield, etc. While it may seem simple, shooting through glass in this way can bring an entirely new layer of depth to your image … introducing new textures, influencing the quality of light, drawing the viewer in as a plausible bystander on the scene, or establishing a new sense of context by incorporating reflections of the surrounding environment.

black and white child photography by kristabelle*image by forum member kristabelle


1) Focus Manually
When shooting through glass, you may find it helpful to focus manually in order to render the scene exactly as you envision; autofocus may get caught up on a reflection, smudges, light glare, or physical elements within or around the window pane (such as a screen, grid, or imperfections in the glass).

2) Use a Polarizing Filter
Some photographers find that using a polarizing filter is useful when shooting through glass, as a polarizer can effectively reduce (or even remove) the light reflecting off the surface. Simply twist your polarizing filter until you discover the best angle for blocking the reflected light. If you don’t have a polarizer and do not want to invest in one, consider using the reflections themselves to your advantage, or work on your angle relative to the glass’s surface to minimize reflections that interfere with the subject you are trying to shoot on the opposite side.

3) Shoot at Night
Night can be one of the best times to try out incorporating reflections, particularly in an urban or other environment in which there is an interplay of varied lights bouncing off the exterior surface of the window. Do be aware that – again, particularly at night – there is likely to be mixed lighting (different color temperatures) between the indoor and outdoor settings on either side of the window, which can make things tricky but can also make for interesting creative effects; try to use this as an opportunity rather than seeing it as a challenge! Remember that some of the most memorable images come from photographers who embrace settings, subjects, and situations that others would shy away from.

4) Turn Off Your Flash (or Position it Carefully)
If you regularly use a speedlight or your pop up flash, you’ll probably want to set it aside for this shot, as the flash light will bounce off of the glass surface and typically yields a harsh, unnatural glare. If you’re working at night, it can be very helpful to bring a tripod with you to get around using flash. If you must use flash, experiment to be sure it’s delivering exactly the creative results you’re envisioning, or consider setting up OCF on the opposite side of the window (same side as your subject), with the light angled away from the glass between the two of you.

5) Back it Up! (and use framing)
Finally, consider backing up and/or using a wide angle lens to use the perimeter of the window/door/etc as a framing device. Not only is the frame itself effective in drawing the viewer’s eye to the subject, but capturing the entire frame can be a wonderful way to highlight the contrast in light and texture between the interior and exterior settings.

editors’ choice

Congratulations to the ladies below whose photographs were selected as this month’s Editors’ Choices!

Carolyn Brandt:

photographing through glass by Carolyn Brandt

Elicia Graves:

black and white rain photography through glass by Elicia Graves

Jax Davidson:

black and white photography through glass by Jax Davidson

JoAnna Reynolds:

aquarium photography by JoAnna Reynolds

Elise Cellucci:

street photography through glass by Elise Cellucci

Alison Crane:

couple photography through glass by Alison Crane

Narelle Bailey:

children photography through a door by Narelle Bailey


black and white child photography through glass by skoia

Thank you to everyone who participated in the exercise!  We love seeing all the beautiful imagery!

Do you want to participate in the next Creativity Exercise?  Visit the forum here where Sarah has challenged us with the theme “Close-Up Portraiture“.  Don’t have a membership to Clickin Moms yet?  Head on over here to sign up!  You can still participate in this Shooting Through Glass challenge by either visiting the forum here or sharing with us in the comments below.  We’d love to see your work!

free creative photography exercises by Sarah Wilkerson for Clickin Moms


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