True Beauty Is: Reflecting the Light

by Shelley Noonan

“And we all, who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image…” –

2 Corinthians 3:18a


All good photographers know that when they’re shooting they need good light. The light source is possibly the most important feature of the photo shoot—more important than the model, in fact. Good lighting can make a tired model look radiant; a model with wrinkles, young again; and if the light is “blown out” enough, she can look angelic.

Miami, Florida, became a modeling hub in the 1980’s. Every year from October to April, models come from all over to work for the thirty-something agencies represented there. Clients from every part of the globe come to shoot their spring and summer lines. Why? Because of the light. The sun is situated in such a place that you can begin working early in the morning until early in the evening with pristine light. The light is clear and intense, but not hazy. The only other place like it is Cape Town, South Africa— another modeling hub.

A typical day might start with hair and makeup at 5:45 a.m., so the shooting can begin at 7:00 a.m. Photo shoots start early so the crew can break for lunch while the sun is directly overhead, because when it’s at that angle, the model gets shadows under her eyes from her lashes—this is hard light. After lunch, the sun has moved again, and it is at the right angle to light her face without shadows. A scrim (a kind of flattened white umbrella) is sometimes used to diffuse the brilliant rays.

Particularly in Miami, the light might be on the verge of blinding me, but it’s all about what the camera sees. The camera is seeing flawless features. Not because I am flawless, but because the light is entering every possible crevice—scars, wrinkles, the dark circles under my eyes. But there is not only a light source but also a “fill” light. This is light that is reflecting off of the sand under my feet, or a white foam core board just below me or to my right or left. Its job is to fill in or reflect light into every shadow the light source might have missed. If you have great light, you don’t need retouching. Notice all the makeup ads or commercials. They flood the model with light. And it’s beautiful.

In the Bible, sin is often described as darkness or the absence of light. One unfathomable attribute of heaven is that it has a constant source of light. Imagine—no shadows. Perfect light everywhere (Revelation 21:23; 22:5) without the need for a scrim or fill light. We also read that we are “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14), and we are to “reflect” Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18).

It doesn’t mean that we’re flawless. It just means that we are to reflect the light source. Christ is the ultimate light source, and in His presence we reflect Him. When we’re following Him, by reading His Word and seeking His will, we are living in God’s image, and people will notice that reflection.


When you’ve met those who love Jesus with their hearts, souls, minds, and strength, you know that they’re reflecting the light source. And it’s beautiful.


© 2011 Rachel Lee Carter, Fashioned by Faith excerpt



Rachel Lee Carter is a conference speaker, Bible teacher, author and international professional model. As a modesty conscious model of more than 20 years, Carter has worked for clients such as Cover Girl, Tommy Hilfiger, Reebok, Jones New York, Perry Ellis, Chico’s, DKNY, and many others.

She is a graduate of the Word of Life Bible Institute in Schroon Lake, NY. After hearing God’s on her life as a professional Christian model, she re-entered the fashion industry.

Rachel is the President of Modeling Christ;  ( an organization addressing the issues and needs of both participants in the modeling industry, and the world it influences. She has become a popular women’s and youth conference speaker addressing issues like modesty, purity, evangelism and embracing one’s past. She is also a former contestant of the Miss Teen USA and Mrs. United States pageants. Her book, Fashioned by Faith ~ an international model uncovers the truth about modesty and style (Thomas Nelson, May 2011) is available at bookstores everywhere.


Rachel Lee Carter
Author . Conference Speaker . Professional Model
4091 Principal Circle
Conover, NC 28613

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Corinn July 24, 2012 at 10:57 am

I love this unique perspective on physical light and then the way it opens up a more detailed view of Christ as the Light of the world. I knew Rachel when she attended the Word of Life Bible Institute and she truly was as beautiful inside as she is on the outside! I’d love to use this graphic linked to this article in the women’s ministry at our church as our theme this year is “Reflecting the light of Christ”. Would there be any copyright issues if I cut and paste? If so, could you let me know where we could purchase the rights to use this picture? Thanks!


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