Eye Photography – Everything you need to know

Eye photography involves the technique of capturing a subject’s eye structure. For eye photography, the human eye is a fascinating subject. It contains the iris, the colored area surrounding the black dot in the eye’s middle. Furthermore, it is in various colors based on its melanin concentration. As a result, photographers focus on capturing the unique and mesmerizing patterns of the iris in the eyes. However, it’s not easy to capture the beauty of the eyes. For this reason, let’s gently walk through various equipment, camera settings, editing techniques, the proper perspective, lighting, and lens to take phenomenal eye photography in this article. 

Equipment for Eye Photography

Macro Shot With a Suitable Camera

Macro Photography deals with capturing close-up images of small subjects. Eye photography uses the techniques of macro photography. Hence, you can use any camera that enables you to capture pictures in special macro mode. However, professional eye photography involves using appropriate equipment capable of transferring images 1:1 (life-size). To get excellent macro photography, you can consider purchasing the best cameras depending on your level of expertise:

Level Of Expertise Types Of CamerasBest Choice
ProfessionalDSLRNikon D500
BeginnerDSLRCanon EOS 5DS R Digital SLR
Best DSLR Nikon D850
Best Mirrorless Olympus PEN E-PL8 
Nikon D500 DX-Format Digital SLR

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Canon EOS 5DS R Digital SLR

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Nikon D850 FX-Format Digital SLR

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Olympus PEN E-PL8

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If you are starting your journey in eye photography, you can opt for a smartphone camera with a special macro mode with standard camera settings. Additionally, you can enhance your image quality with a unique macro-mode lens. 

Camera Settings for Eye Photography

Eye photography demands sharp images, and to ensure it, you need to adjust the camera settings accordingly. Listed below are the best camera settings you can adopt for eye photography:

1 . ISO 

Having the best ISO setting for eye photography ensures your image is devoid of noise. To get a sharper image, constantly adjust your ISOs manually and try having the following settings based on specific scenarios:

Conditions SettingsAdvantage
between 100 to 800Image noise is low
Bright Location100Produces the least amount of noise
Not enough Lighting 800Specks are present but  not very much visible

2. Aperture

For eye photography, your focus area will be smaller. Hence it would help if you shot in macro mode. Further, adjust the aperture settings as per the table below to lock in your focus. 

Aperture settingsSettingsAdvantages
Narrowf/8 or f/11 

Increase your depth of field

(widens your area of focus)

However, please refrain from using a large aperture like f/1.8  as it can be difficult for you to capture the image despite being closer to it. 

3. Shutter Speed

When it comes to shutter speed, you can allow your camera to adjust automatically. Ensure that it doesn’t drop below 1/60th of a second due to the risk of motion blur. Alternatively, increase your exposure if your camera chooses a shutter speed below 1/60th of a second. Additionally, vary the aperture settings from f/11 to f/8 to allow more light and increase the ISO accordingly, maintaining it below 800. 

Use a Macro Lens

Eye photography thrives on capturing the details related to the eye. As a result, you must be able to zoom into your subject without losing the sharpness of your image. For this purpose, you can use a macro lens with a focal length of at least 100mm. Further, maintaining a variable distance with your subject in the range of 50 to 200 mm is essential to allow the light to pass through the pupils. Additionally, macro lenses allow you to fill the entire frame and capture the in-depth details. However, since macro lenses are slightly expensive, you may want to try other alternatives they include: 

Alternatives to Macro Lenses

  •  Macro Rings – These hollow pipes increase the distance as they connect the camera to the lens. As a result, the front element is in proximity to the subject. The disadvantages of using these pipes are based   on the device’s light loss and the smaller area of focus, which makes it quite challenging.
  • Bellows
  • Extension tubes
  • Reversing rings 

These alternatives are less expensive and comfortable to use. However, they disturb your lens’s autofocus and have to be adjusted manually to get a sharp image. 


How to take a Professional Picture of your Iris?

Eye Photography – How to take a sharp Image of your Iris?

How to optimize a picture of your Iris without photoshop?

How Do You Photograph the Human Eye?

1. Fix Your Subject’s Eye Direction

If you wish to get the best image of the iris and the pupil, you need to ask your subject to see directly into the camera’s lens. Alternatively, to shoot from a different angle, ask your subject to focus on an object. 

2. Brighten the eyes

You will zoom in to occupy the entire frame when you capture the eye. Since the significance of the background is lost, you need to focus more on lighting. Lighting is an essential aspect of eye photography as it helps to capture the details of your subject’s iris intricately. So, it would be best to choose a spot with optimum catch light. 


A catchlight is a light source that blends into the eye and is seen as a bright ball within it. There are different sources of catchlight. They include:

Natural Light

Natural light from the sun is a good source of catchlight. To prevent your subject from harmful direct daylight, you can diffuse or soften the sunlight you get through the windows. This way, you can lighten the face while maintaining the natural tone of the eyes. If you have a larger window, look for a shaded area that will highlight your subject to capture an excellent image. 

Artificial Light

Artificial lights can be classified into two types:

  • Continuous: Some examples of continuous light sources include lamps and softboxes. Since these sources emit light persistently, they don’t jolt your subject with a sudden burst of light. Therefore, they are said to be very friendly to your subject’s vision. 
  • Strobe/ Flash: Flashlights or strobes are potent light sources that can suddenly blind your subject’s vision. However, they can brighten your subject’s eyes and enhance your image quality. Hence, keep them at low power as much as possible. 

Lighting Direction

You must also ensure to place your light source aside from your camera to avoid getting any shadows. Further, set the light source beside the eyes to prevent the catchlight from reflecting off your subject’s iris. This way, you can illuminate your subject’s eyeball without highlighting it. Before shooting, always ensure your subjects close their eyes to avoid any strain. Once you are ready, allow a few minutes for them to adjust to the scene and stop squinting. 

3. Accentuate the Eye’s Beauty

Cosmetics like mascara and eyeliner can be advantageous to you if you wish to highlight your subject’s eyes and define their shape.

4. Add a Creative Touch

If you wish to achieve great results, try photographing your subject’s eyes from different angles or place your camera at various spots. Additionally, you can change the location of the light source to obtain original glares and natural eye color. Further, you can hide the defects using rainbow effects to make your images more artistic. 

5. Make Your Images Appealing

You can use reflection to add an appeal to your eye photography. The source of reflection could be a person, a landscape, or an object. In this case, you have to place a strong light source between your subject and the object. Next, place the object by the side of your subject to direct the reflection into your subject’s iris. A tripod will be helpful in this regard. 

6. Maintain Proximity 

Staying near the subject ensures you capture more detail and get an excellent image. For this purpose, place the lens close to the eye without blurring the focus. Additionally, ensure your camera doesn’t block the lighting. 

7. Combating  Redness 

The white layer around the eyes is called the sclera. The sclera may develop redness when you photograph the eyes due to sensitivity. To tackle this, advise your subject to avoid activities involving their eyes. 

8. Exemplify the Eyes with Mirror

Photograph your eyes by placing the mirror behind the camera. Suppose you want to shoot a macro photo of the eyes. In that case, tilt the camera screen to control the frame angle and the focus. If your camera doesn’t have a tilting screen, set the mirror behind the camera screen. This enables you to get the reflected shot.

Suppose you are using your mobile for shooting. In that case, follow the steps mentioned above as snapping in the selfie mode (with a front camera) is not the most attractive choice as far as lighting is concerned.

Image Source: pxhere

9.  Fix the Camera

While photographing the eyes, your resultant image may experience motion blur. You need to ensure neither your camera nor your subject moves to prevent it. A tripod and a remote shutter release or radio synchronizer help stabilize your camera; providing appropriate neck support helps your subject stay constant. In addition, you have to allow your subject to sit or lie down. 


1. Remove Red-Eye Effect

When using a built-in flash, the flashlight is reflected from the eye ground, appearing red. You can edit this with image editing tools like Photoshop. For example, with the help of the red-eye tool, you can remove the redness and maintain the natural tone of the eye. 

2. Change the Eye Color

To make your image more interesting, you can try changing its color. For instance, Adobe Photoshop offers you a convenient way to do this. You can use the Fast mask mode and highlight the eyes with a soft brush. In addition, color balance helps you use color judiciously.

3. Add Luster

To enhance the beauty of the eyes and make them look meaningful, you need to luster them. For this, you require a dodge tool. In Photoshop, you can adjust the exposure setting with a soft brush. Further, a sharp tool can hone the image and highlight it. 

4. Remove the Defects Under the Eyes

A patch tool in photoshop helps you eliminate bags and dark circles under the eyes. Further, this method is also helpful in removing the wrinkles present around the eyes. The most crucial step to remember is to choose the area appropriately and change its texture accordingly. 

5. Whiten the Eyes and Remove Vascular Problems

The photoshop spot healing brush helps you clean the eyes and replace the vascular with a white spot. This way, you can whiten the sclera. 

6. Focussing on the Iris

Using a macro lens doesn’t always guarantee you get a beautiful pattern of the iris without the sclera. In this case, you need to adopt a crop tool to cut out the sclera. This way, you can reframe the shot and recompose the image. However, beware of overcropping as it can pixelate your image. Additionally, you can add a green tint to the iris to highlight the contrast and add more detail to it. 


Eye photography is a challenging sub-genre of macro photography. However, you can master it if you can maintain the stability of your camera and subject. In addition, you must be able to use lighting effects judiciously to highlight your subject. Finally, you get a stunning resultant image when everything works out with perfect synchronization.