Photography Lighting is supported by readers. When you buy with our links, we may earn a commission. Learn more

This post was most recently updated on January 8th, 2023

If you’ve ever wondered how professionals, or even Instagram influencers, get their photographs to look so vivid and flawless, the secret is lighting.

Seriously, the right lighting setup can instantly turn your photos from amateur to professional, getting rid of hard shadows, and adding light and focus to the face of the subject for that model glow-up feel. 

There are many different ways to provide professional lighting for a photo, but one of the most popular and commonly used professional techniques is the use of a ring light.

In fact, it’s pretty safe to assume that all of your favorite social media celebrities make use of ring lights in their day-to-day selfies and photography sessions, and it is also what professionals use in their studios. Ring lights can even be used outdoors, so they really are a widespread tool! 

Ring lights help create a perfect amount of light, giving extra emphasis to the eyes and face of the model, and creating a professional and vivid end result. And the best news?

You don’t have to splash out with money in order to get a ring light, there are some really affordable and cheap ones in the market! The question is, how do you use a ring light correctly?

Knowing how to use it is what will allow you to make the most out of this tool so that the results are actually good. 

If you’ve ever wondered how to use a ring light, then let us help. We will tell you everything you need to know, and your photos should go from beginner to pro in no time! 

What Is A Ring Light?

Let’s start with the very basics, explaining what a ring light is exactly. Long story short, it’s a flashlight mounted in a large circle, with adjustable height.

How To Use A Ring Light

Basically, it is a ring that lights up with a bright light (sometimes in adjustable tones of color), and there is a hollow circle in the middle of the ring which is where the camera lens is positioned (or alternatively, the phone). 

Ring lights were first developed by Lester A. Dine, in 1952, for medical and dental reasons. So it was first made to take dental pictures, and now it is most commonly used for fashion photography and similar. 

Ring lights can come in many different sizes. The smaller ring lights can be mounted on the camera itself, with more average-sized ring lights being mounted on a tripod in order to adjust the height.

Usually, they are around 9-inch to 12-inch in diameter, but you can seriously find ring lights of all sizes. 

As we mentioned, ring lights are now so popular that there are plenty of very cheap and affordable options, so it is very easy to get one for your home so that you can take more professional-looking selfies and photos yourself. 

If you are going to buy a ring light, then make sure to find one that works for your needs, as there are many different types. As for advice, we would recommend you check out these basic factors, and take them into consideration when choosing your ring light:

The Cost

One of the main factors of any purchase is the cost. There are plenty of affordable ring lights, so go for the best within your budget, and it should be more than enough.

The Size And Weight

In order to choose the size and weight of your ring light, you need to consider how and where you are going to use it. If you’re going to be moving about with the ring light, traveling to different locations, you will need something lightweight and portable.

If you’re going to be shooting full-body pictures, and you’re quite tall, you will need a ring light that is tall enough and adjustable. 

The Durability And Quality

When buying your ring light it is important to ensure it is made of high-quality and durable materials, so that it will last you a decent amount of time without causing any problems. Especially if you’re going to be using it regularly. 

The Light Settings

Some ring lights have different light settings, which means you might be able to adjust the brightness, and sometimes even the tone of the color.

So you could set the ring light to be brighter or dimmer, and warmer or colder in its tone of light. 

Advanced Settings

More professional ring lights tend to have more advanced settings, such as more exact adjustment of the brightness and color. They might also be able to be adjusted in their angle, and might be able to be placed sideways, or be able to be attached to multiple different surfaces. 


In photography, accessories are your best friend. With ring lights, accessories can include camera mounts, so that you have your camera or phone positioned in the center of the ring light, as well as many others. 

How To Use A Ring Light

Now that we’ve covered what a ring light is and what to take into account when purchasing one, it’s time to get to the main question: how do you use a ring light? 

The truth is, you can use it in any way you want in order to get the results you are aiming for.

How To Use A Ring Light

At the end of the day, the ring light is a tool, and although there is a standard traditional way of using it, you can make use of it in any way necessary to you. 

Turning the ring light on so that it is functioning is simple enough, most ring lights are simply plugged in, the setting of the light adjusted via a button or switch, and it’s ready!

Some ring lights might be powered by batteries for portability, and those with more advanced settings might even have a digital screen with options. Reading the instructions manual is always your best bet. 

As to the traditional way of using the ring light, and the way in which most people use it, you simply position it where you want it, and you place the camera or phone within the hollow center of the ring so that the light is a sort of halo around the lens. That’s it! 

So you set up the ring light, you then set up the camera or phone within the ring light, and you’re ready to shoot the photos. 

You can then, of course, position the subject or model in front of the ring light, or have the ring light slightly sideways, or at whichever angle and height you need it in in order to obtain those photography results you are after.

It’s all about experimenting and playing with the ring light until you figure out how to use it best! 

In Conclusion

To sum it all up, ring lights are very easy to use and are now available at very affordable prices.

They can turn your picture from amateur to professional, by getting rid of hard shadows and making the set look more vivid. 

With most ring lights, you simply plug them in, adjust them to the height and angle desired, and you then position the camera or phone within the hollow center of the ring, so that the light is a sort of halo around the lens.

Easy, and it can make all the difference!