How to Make Your Own At-Home Photography Lighting Kit

Written by alicia webb
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How to Make Your Own At-Home Photography Lighting Kit
Professional lights can be pricey. (studio flashes image by sasha from Fotolia.com)

Setting up a home photography studio poses many challenges, including acquiring a lighting kit. Professional studio lights carry a high price and function only for studio photography. By replicating a studio lighting set-up with household lights, you can create professionally lit photos and reuse the lights you purchased for household purposes. If you don’t do professional shoots on a regular basis, you can make your own photographic lighting kit at home by using specific types of household lights.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • 2 standing spot light lamps
  • Clip-on spotlight
  • 100-watt light bulbs
  • Extension cords
  • Tissue paper
  • Tape

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Purchase two standing household lamps with adjustable heads. You can find these types of lamps in home stores, typically sold for office use. Make sure the lamps use at least a 100-watt bulb. The lamps may have one or more light heads, which will add to your lighting options.

    How to Make Your Own At-Home Photography Lighting Kit
    Multiple light heads add to your options. (lamp image by Dmitriy Khrapov from Fotolia.com)
  2. 2

    Purchase a clip-on light designed to shine directly onto an object. Garage lights and reading lights often come in clip on form and have spotlight qualities. Lights with heads you can adjust to shine onto something directly work best. Look for gooseneck lamps to allow for easy adjustment.

    How to Make Your Own At-Home Photography Lighting Kit
    Gooseneck lamps are easily adjustable. (lamp image by Marek Kosmal from Fotolia.com)
  3. 3

    Tape sheets of tissue paper loosely in front of your two main lamps. The tissue paper will diffuse the light to make it less direct and harsh. If you can’t tape the tissue paper onto the lights directly, try to tape it onto something else that sits in front of the lamp. Tape the tissue to your clip-on spotlight as well.

    How to Make Your Own At-Home Photography Lighting Kit
    Diffused light is softer on your subjects. (valeriya image by Alexander Oshvintsev from Fotolia.com)
  4. 4

    Select your brightest lamp to act as your main light. Place this light so that it faces your subject and sits at a 45-degree angle from the camera. This light needs to stand closer to the subject than does the camera. Shine the light angled slightly down onto your subject.

    How to Make Your Own At-Home Photography Lighting Kit
    The main light will brightly light your subject from one side. (foto in studio di giovane modello image by Enrico Podda from Fotolia.com)
  5. 5

    Add a fill light using the second standing lamp. Shine this light on the subject from the opposite direction, also at a 45-degree angle. If your two standing lights shine with equal strength, place your fill light further back than the main light, so it casts less illumination. This light should softly fill in the shadows cast by the main light.

    How to Make Your Own At-Home Photography Lighting Kit
    The fill light will fill in the shadows cast by the main light. (nikiforova lena image by Sergey Goruppa from Fotolia.com)
  6. 6

    Clamp your spotlight onto something behind your subject. Use the light to add a small highlight on the top of your subject’s head. This accent light will separate the subject from the background. Face this light toward the camera lens so it aims slightly above the lens, without shining directly into the lens.

    How to Make Your Own At-Home Photography Lighting Kit
    The accent light will shine from behind the subject. (alone young model in the photo studio image by Vasiliy Koval from Fotolia.com)
  7. 7

    Move the lights around and adjust the angles until you achieve the lighting effect you desire. Incandescent lighting provides constant light on your subject in a studio and allows you to adjust for shadows. Remember that moving a light farther from the subject takes away from the luminosity on the subject. Adjust the lights so the subject is lit from all angles, with one side lit brighter than the other.

    How to Make Your Own At-Home Photography Lighting Kit
    Use trial and error until you achieve your desired effect (model kiba elena image by Sergey Goruppa from Fotolia.com)

Tips and warnings

  • Use your camera to take test shots of your subject and evaluate the lighting results.
  • To avoid combustion, make sure your tissue paper isn’t directly touching a hot bulb.

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