William Powell July 27th, 2022

How Photographers Use Suncatchers to Make Creative Effects

The photography industry is extremely competitive, and coming up with new ways to make your photos stand out is becoming increasingly difficult. Using suncatchers to transform ordinary images into extraordinary works of art with magical, ethereal rainbow effects is a fantastic way to breathe new life into your photos. 

In a world where cookie-cutter filters are the norm, creating organic visual effects by hand is a welcome change that allows photographers to express themselves and create distinctive photos. 

Of course, you don’t need to be a professional photographer to enjoy exploring the limitless potential of suncatcher photography. Maybe you just want to add some flair to your profile picture. Maybe you want to take a family portrait that’s a little more exciting than usual. There are endless reasons to incorporate rainbow suncatchers into your approach, and it’s super easy! 

Whether you’re using your smartphone, a DSLR, or even a disposable, suncatchers can add a subtle or bold look that’s much more natural (and beautiful) than any filter can touch. Read on for tips on how to use suncatchers in your photography!

1. Experimentation Is Key

Suncatcher photography looks stunning on genuine film, but it’s best to start by using a digital camera or phone to experiment. That way you can get a feel for how even slight variations in your suncatchers can change how the rainbows respond without wasting precious film. 

For example, holding the suncatcher far away from the lens is going to create a much blurrier and abstract photo than if you held it directly against the lens. Incorporating a suncatcher in your sunlit photography is going to create much more vibrant, vivid rainbows than photos taken in a dimly lit room. Placing a suncatcher against the top, bottom, side, or middle of the lens will naturally affect where the rainbows land, their shape, their clarity, and so on. Spend some time getting a feel for how different suncatchers respond to different strategies.

2. Customize Your Suncatchers

The great thing about suncatchers is that they’re cheap and easy to modify. Try cutting them into different shapes. Use permanent markers to draw lines, shapes, and patterns on them. Apply stickers or tape to them. Dust them with glitter. Dip them in water. This is a great opportunity to have some fun getting crafty, and you can be sure that your suncatcher photos will be truly unique.

3. Set Up the Shot

In the world of photography, composition is everything! While there’s nothing wrong with holding your suncatcher up to your lens and hoping for the best, taking some time to really create something special is almost always going to yield better results. 

For example, you could take a portrait of someone wearing a costume or distinctive makeup in a well-lit forest. Or, find a natural body of water and take photos of the sun reflecting on its surface. If the weather conditions are right, you could even go rainbow hunting and incorporate your rainbows into the mix! You don’t need to shoot only in nature either. Paint a backdrop by hand, or go to a local fabric store and find the perfect background. This style of photography really pops when you pull out all the stops.

Remember: Light is your best friend when doing rainbow photography! Brighter light means more vibrant colors. While natural sunlight is usually the best choice, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with bringing a ring light along for the session. Having your own photography lights on hand really empowers you to take control of your setting and bring your vision to life.

4. Bring a Friend

Having a second set of hands is so, well, handy! You can have your partner hold and manipulate the suncatcher while you focus on taking the shots. This simple yet effective method can lead to some gorgeous kaleidoscope and refraction effects. Additionally, you can use your partner as a subject for your portraits

Instead of just holding up your suncatcher to the lens, try holding it near their face and catching their reflection. Or use multiple suncatchers to create reflections of your subject and/or your surroundings. You can really make some dreamy, hazy, and downright psychedelic effects with this method. Experiment with longer exposure times and aperture settings to really nail those trippy vibes!

5. Collaborate With Other Photographers

Like any other form of art, every photographer has their own unique approach. Having a second photographer around for bouncing ideas and brainstorming can really help both of you take your shots to the next level. You’ll have fun learning from each other, sharing tips, and teaching tips and techniques. 

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

If you decide to do post-production on your photos (which isn’t always necessary with suncatcher photography), you could both play with Photoshop to really bring the images to life. You could even layer images to create breathtaking pieces of surreal art. The possibilities are truly endless when artists work together to create something special.

6. Share the Love

Many of the most successful photographers got to where they are by being different and creating their own distinctive style. Once you’re confident in your ability to create beautiful rainbow photos, offer to snap some shots of friends, family members, and even strangers for free, with the caveat being that they share it on social media and tag you as the photographer. Each and every shot is potential exposure—in more ways than one! Over time, people may start to recognize your work, and then you could host your own shows at galleries, build a social media following, and monetize your skills in a number of ways.

7. Take the Show on the Road

After perfecting your skills with friends and family, why not generate some income by creating unique product photos or stock images for businesses? Or, you could reach out to social media influencers who may want something more exciting than the usual Instagram filters. Because this is such a niche style of photography, you can really capture the local market. Even if suncatcher photography isn’t your main offering, just having it on the menu gives potential clients more options.

Have Fun With It

Rainbows are whimsical, magical, and playful. As you experiment with suncatcher photos, enjoy yourself! Even if you’re creating moody, distorted images, letting your creativity and personality shine will lead to better photos almost every time. After all, photography is an art, and art is all about self-expression. Finally, remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Your first goal should be to create images that you genuinely love. Everything after that is just a bonus.

Featured Image by Dollar Gill on Unsplash

William Powell

William Powell is a writer and educator with a passion for marketing. He enjoys learning about the latest business trends and analyzing how global events impact domestic and international economies.

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