DIY Studio Lighting Photography.

image of dark room with homemade diy studio lighting photography project using shower curtains plastic bins and other simple items from home improvement store by danielle jacqueline studio in olive branch mississippi state line

My husband and I came up with an idea to promote my photography business by offering portraits of costumes while passing out candy on Halloween. Since we knew most trick or treaters would be ringing the doorbell after sundown, we needed to set up studio lighting photography. Having rented photography equipment and lighting in the past, we thought it would be a good idea to form our own DIY LED version.

Aside from saving money, we thought writing this blog would also help us showcase our creativity. Little did we know the result would actually exceed our expectations. So here’s how we did it:

The Materials we used for our Studio Lighting Photography.

  • A roll or two of electric tape.
  • 2 large storage tubs.
  • A roll of large aluminum foil.
  • 2+ LED light bulbs 50-100 watts (closest to 4700 lumens which is natural light).
  • 2-4 aluminum (industrial) light fixtures. (Make sure wattage output matches bulbs)
  • Light softening material (shower curtain, pillow case, or silk sheet).
  • Extension cord and surge protector.
  • Box cutter, utility knife, or knock-out blade for power drill.
  • Screw hooks or other fasteners if you want to hang your lights.

Our DIY Box Light Building Process:

1. Remove the reflective funnel from your industrial light fixture. Most will screw off, but you may need to cut yours. Be careful! Also, don’t worry too much about the heat warnings on the label. Remember, we’re using LEDs that don’t get hot.

aluminum basic reflector plug in light without bulb for diy photography studio project in memphis tennessee
bare light socket with plug store bought with light funnel removed to use for diy project by olive branch ms photographer danielle jacqueline for indoor studio

2. Measure the exact center on the bottom of your bin and cut out a hole that the light fixture can fit through. (keep it snug!) Fasten the light fixture to the bottom of the container with the on/off switch outside. Make sure it’s tight by taping around the edges.

electric tape black used to fasten light fixture onto bottom of plastic storage tub that had hole cut out to make diy studio lighting photography

3. Portion off enough aluminum foil to stretch across the inside of the container horizontally and vertically. The goal is to create an angle so the light is directed towards to top. Cut a hole in foil so your light fixture sticks out. Once it’s in place, crimp the excess foil around the edges of the tub and secure it with some tape. Now you can insert your light bulb.

center of aluminum foil reflective surface for inside of diy studio lighting before light bulb is placed into socket for home project with danielle jacqueline photography in olive branch ms
4700 led lumen light bulb in place for most natural store bought effects at home studio in desoto county mississippi tin foil spread across plastic bins

4. Cut the white material to fit the bins and cover the top of them to soften the lighting. You can use electric tape or a large rubber band to hold it down. If you really want the lights to look sharp, you can even consider wrapping the bins in duck tape (color of choice). 

Additional Ways to Enhance Your DIY Photo Lighting.

1. Invest in more lighting angles.  In order to maximize the lighting of our photoshoot, we decided to purchase two additional LED bulbs and lighting fixtures. Instead of building a few more box lights (normally used for fill lighting), we simply kept the fixtures in tact and covered the opening with packaging sheets. LED bulbs by themselves are usually pretty bright – so you’re going to want to soften them any ways you can.

blue backdrop inside home portrait studio in olive branch ms with light fixture and soft cover for headshot imagery by danielle jacqueline

2. Hang Your lights to hide shadows.  Since we had some photography equipment already laying around, we decided to use one of our camera stands to hang one of the DIY box lights. This is where the fasteners and screws come into play. On the short side of the box light, we screwed in two curtain hooks. This allowed us to connect the stand and control the height and angles of each light. This is ideal for different poses and helps you capture littles or tall subjects. Lighting adjustments are also key to capturing large groups.

Thanks for Stopping By!

I hope you enjoyed my brief overview on how to build DIY home lighting for your photography studio. We’ve had a blast building our businesses over the years and look forward to our future in Olive Branch Mississippi. We hope this blog helps you realize that there’s a lot you can do on your own! You don’t always have to break the bank.

I take a lot of pride in capturing smiles, styles, and everything worthwhile – and photogenic lighting really makes a big difference. But if you’re frustrated by the cost of professional lighting (or just getting started like we were), maybe you can give this project a try. It worked like a charm for me! In fact, here is what I was able to capture with our custom lights:

little cutie in lady bug costume with pumpkins all around during zero gravity studio photo session with danielle jacqueline photography in olive branch ms for families during halloween
happy little lady on bails of hay next to pumpkins and fall signage with props on october 31st 2016 diy photo studio lighting project

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