Lighting and Photographing Sunglasses With Dramatic Lighting

In this product photography class Karl clearly demonstrates the advantages of using a scrim as he photographs a pair of sunglasses.

Sunglasses can be challenging subjects to photograph due to their curved lenses and gloss frames, but using scrims can help achieve the beautiful gradient lighting that really gives an image that professional quality.

As Karl creates his shot, you’ll see how he positions and angles the product and how he lights it using studio flash. As he explains his choice of modifiers, you’ll also learn why softboxes are not the best option for this type of photography and how you can use the simple trick of using mirrors to create additional light.

Class objectives:

  • How to photograph sunglasses
  • Using scrims to create gradient lighting
  • Lighting reflective gloss surfaces
  • How to correctly expose an image
  • Creating a background glow for product photography

This class also has an accompanying retouching tutorial, where you’ll see the post-production process for this image.

To learn more about how to photograph eyewear, we have some additional classes that may be of interest:

If you have any questions about this class please post in the comment section below.

NOTE: This class is available with English subtitles and automatic translations.


  1. Hi Karl,

    just a question regrading your scrim. There are also this ready to buy foldable reflektors with a built in Diffusor available. Since they are also available in quite big sizes like 200 x 150cm, my question is, if they are suitable as well for product photography. Or do you think that the synthetic and semi transparent diffusion fabric will give a worse result than your material?

  2. Hi Karl. As I understand each lens has a f-stop range in which they capture the image the sharpest. Is the lens you use sharpest at around f 23? Or do you sort out the sharpness in post and don’t bother with the optimal f-stop for the lens you are using?

    1. Hi Gonul, you’re right each lens has an optimum point but on high quality lenses the difference at other or smaller apertures is minimal even when diffraction starts. If we had to restrict ourselves only to one specific aperture setting it would be hard to shoot a variety of subjects.

    1. Hi Ricardo, yes I think it’s in this section if not there is on a previous live show as I did a similar shoot live. Check the live shows page.

  3. Hi Karl,

    Great course and shot. Did you edit the reflection in the glasses so the texture from the tracing paper wouldn’t show?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Luis, no, when Karl is using the scrim there is no texture shown, it just gives that perfect graduation unless maybe the diffusion material was very creased and screwed up but otherwise there is no post work needed to remove any diffusion material texture

  4. Does the scrim need to be that big? Also what is the name of the flexible arm you are using to hold the sunglasses?

    1. Hi Jane, because the glasses are curved they reflect more of their surroundings so yes the scrim needs to be as big as possible. If they were flatter then you could use a smaller one. The flexible arm and other items are listed in the ‘equipment list’ on the same page as the video.

  5. Thank you Karl. Yes, I’ve tried and I did struggled with visualising it. Plus, unwanted reflection from the floor really killing me. Haha. You’re the best Karl. Cheers!

    1. Hi Asyraf, if you have problems with reflection off the floor consider buying large sheets of light absorbing black fabric (i think ‘felt’ is cheaper than velvet) and lay it all over the floor.

  6. Can we rotate the whole setup especially the scrim and the subject 90 degrees into side way, the sunglasses lens will still be facing towards the scrim? Just in case we are unable to use the giraffe boom stand and using normal light stand instead.

  7. Karl also what is the type of Lee roll diffusion you now use to replace the Trace Sheets?
    This way of lighting here is fantastic and I love how it can be used on anything reflective and shining like cars The Tonal gradation is fabulous

  8. I am trying to find out or get an idea of what type of material the metal web is Karl Then Spot Grids can be made for almost any light What is great about them the tonal gradation the give you at the edges. Let’s say an Arri Fresnel

    1. Hi Paulian, I only know the material as ‘honeycomb’ grid maybe you can buy it in sheet sizes somewhere and then have your local metalwork shop custom adjust it to size?

    1. Just for anyone thinking of making a honeycomb modifier the DIY way later – one can be made with a bunch of black drinking straws cut to length and bound together 🙂

  9. Is there a specific reason you did not effectively flip the whole set 90 degrees placing the scrim at the side rather than above and thus avoid having to use all the overhead lighting?

    1. Hi Victor, I find it more difficult to ‘think’ about an image if the orientation is wrong for me so i’d rather put the object how I intend to ‘see’ it. I guess it’s a bit like lying on the sofa, I wouldn’t want to turn the TV on its side, even though my viewing angle would be correct if i did i just wouldn’t be able to concentrate.

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