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Student Guide for Remote Learning + Making

How Do I Make Lighting for Photos and Videos?

Resource links courtesy of Mayumi Lake, Associate Director of Photography Facilities and Senior Lecturer in Photography.

Advice on:

[Click the links in the list below to navigate this guidance.]

Light Sources

Any light can be your light source! The sun, household lamps, phone light, etc. If you do want to get more controlled light sources, consider basic clamp or work lights. Something like these clamp lights available through Amazon or Home Depot, or these work lights from Home Depot could do the trick. 

Reflectors / Flags 

There are a few ways to address this in your home environment. The easiest may be white & black form cores, which you can get from any store besides art stores (including office sections in local grocery stores). Alternatively, you can even just use white paper or black paper clipped to cardboard.

Here are some other DIY options:

  • Aluminum foil on cardboard (wrinkle the foil for better, even reflections). Check out The 5 Minutes, $1.50 Reflector and How to Use It by Laya Gerlock for step-by-step instructions.
  • Color form board can be used for hints of colors on your highlights. Something like these options from Blick.
  • A-Clamps can be used to clip reflectors, or you can use two as stands. They are available at any hardware store, and these options from Amazon are an example.
  • Car sun shades / sun visors in any shape or size will work too! Checkout this example on Amazon


There are a lot of household items that can be used for diffusers! Such as:
"Used" dryer sheet
Parchment sheet (portion of parchment paper commonly used for baking)
Empty picture frames + white bed sheets 
White kitchen trash bags/liners in cardboard frames
Tracing papers 

Color Effect Gels

Hygloss Transparent Cellophane can be used as a party gel alternative, but DO NOT put this in front of quartz light or it will melt! Examples can be seen on Amazon and Blick


Check out How to make a DIY Light Grid or Egg Crate for under $5 dollars on YouTube for step-by-step instructions for paper grid alternatives. 

Light Painting

You can create light paintings using an LED flashlight (Mayumi notes: “I use around 1000 lumens ones, but you can get more powerful ones depending on subject size”). An example of this flashlight can be found on Amazon. Check out Masterclass’ Complete Guide to Light Painting Photography for a full tutorial on creating light paintings. To see examples and see some of the community, check out Light Painting Photography’s Links page and YouTube channel.

Speedlite Accessories

Consider these DIY options for alternatives:

Tabletop Plexiglass Alternative

You can use Tabletop Plexiglass as an alternative lighting cover (and there are several textures and sizes available). See this example from Home Depot.