When you’re a blogger, you rely on good lighting, and finding budget photography lighting can take some time but isn’t too difficult. However, I’ve figured out a really cheap solution or two.

In California, natural light came in through the window nicely, and I regret that I didn’t take advantage of it more. Now that I live in Texas, the lighting in my apartment is terrible, so I figured out some sort of on-budget photography lighting situation. I didn’t want professional softboxes, so I reconstructed a lighting scenario similar to what I used when I first started blogging 3 years ago.


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I set up one 3-head floor lamp to light behind and to the left of the subject and one 5-head floor lamp with lamp heads arranged in a semi-circle to light the front of the subject. It’s easy, cheap, and works like a charm.

With a little searching and proper timing, you can find these multi-head floor lamps at Target or Walmart for under $20. I picked up this 3-head lamp* for $18.00 in store, but depending on sales events and such, you might find a better deal. For light bulbs, I use daylight LED bulbs like these* for $11.99. My setup cost a total of $42. The 5-head floor lamp was already in my apartment; add $18 for a second set of lights if necessary. Depending on your shooting style and needs, rotate the necks of each lamp head where you need light to shine. Experiment and make adjustments to see what works best for you.

Soften and Filter

Filter out the harsh glare from direct light exposure with paper coffee filters.

For a softer effect, I placed paper coffee filters over each lamp head. The light is diffused through the filters reducing light reflections and glare onto the subject. I attached the filters to the lamp head with strips of duct tape that can be removed when the bulbs need to be replaced. Again, easy and cheap.

On to the lighting samples! Please note, the following photos have not been edited for comparison purposes.

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I light up my subjects/products as shown in the last photo, because it works for my needs. The lights are not too bright, and I can edit the photos with Photoshop if necessary. I prefer natural daylight over artificial lighting, but this works for now. It’s actually pretty perfect.

Want your own ring light? I made one of those too! Check it out here. Maybe you like the softbox look better. I’ve got a tutorial here too.

How do you light up your products and subjects? 

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Budget photography lighting setup and tips