3 Steps to a Better Selfie: Affordable DIY Ring Light

Emily Essentially | DIY | Affordable Ring Light Example

I just love a well-lit photograph.  Do you remember taking your senior pictures in high school?  I'm sure your photographer had an amazing photo studio to take all of those perfectly lit wallets that you handed out to your friends.  I'm an amateur when it comes to snapping pics, and I've always wondered how my favorite beauty YouTubers get such smooth, shadow-less light for their Instagram pics.  I'd love to have some diffused natural light of my own, but unfortunately my apartment doesn't capture much sun through the windows.  Add to that the fact, ALL of my house lights cast that hideous yellowish tint that's super unflattering.  How can I add some shine to my life?!  Enter...the ring light.

Ring lights are amazing creative tools - yet most nice ones retail for anywhere north of $200 bucks.  Not exactly in the budget for this budding blogger.  So, what do you do when you can't afford the real thing?  Be resourceful and MAKE ONE!  One of my favorite photographer friends recently gave me some tips on how to create my very own DIY ring light on a wallet-friendly budget.  The best thing about it - it only takes four pieces - one of which you may already have in your kitchen.  

The grand total for my ring light, you ask?!  A whopping $35 dollars!  Now that's a bargain!  And if you don't believe you'll get some amazing results - check out the photos at the end to see just exactly the kind of difference the ring light makes. You'll need:

16' LED Daylight Rope Light - [Amazon]  ||  18" Wreath Frame - [Joann]  ||  8" Zip Ties - [Home Depot]  ||  Aluminum Foil - [Reynolds Wrap]

Emily Essentially | DIY | Affordable Ring Light Materials Needed


Step 1:

Rip off pieces of aluminum foil that are approximately 18" long and 6" wide.  You will need 10-12 pieces to surround the entire wreath frame depending on the amount you overlap each wrapped piece of foil.  

Emily Essentially | DIY | Affordable Ring Light Step 1
Emily Essentially | DIY | Affordable Ring Light Step 2
Emily Essentially | DIY | Affordable Ring Light Step 2




Step 2:

Begin wrapping the strips around the wreath, ensuring you wrap tightly enough to mimic the bowed shape of the frame.   Try not to wrap too tightly to puncture or rip the foil.  This doesn't need to be overly precise, but it does need to be pinched tight enough around the frame to be even and free of movement or sliding.  Continue wrapping the strips all the way around until your frame is completely covered with foil.  







Step 3:

Grab your LED Daylight Rope Light and test it to ensure it works properly before moving on.  Then, begin to coil it in concentric circles around the foil-covered wreath frame.  Coil the rope light so that the free end is closest to the middle of the frame.  If you are having trouble keeping the rope light in place as you coil it, you can secure the very first portion of the light with a zip tie or get someone to help you hold as you wrap the rope light.  Once you have coiled the rope light fully, the end that plugs into the wall cord is on the outside for easy use (see photo 3).  Your rope light should coil around the wreath frame about 4 times.  Once you are content with your coiled rope light, secure the rope light to the wreath frame using clear zip ties in various intervals.  To keep it in place you should use at least 8.  

Emily Essentially | DIY | Affordable Ring Light Step 3
Emily Essentially | DIY | Affordable Ring Light Step 3
Emily Essentially | DIY | Affordable Ring Light Step 3

Voila!  You're done!  Plug in your rope light and you're ready to take some killer, well-lit selfies or photography shots in general!  Indoor lighting is less than optimal, especially in Michigan winters, but here's my hack for making it work for a busy girl like me!

Emily Essentially | DIY | Affordable Ring Light Final Product

Before & After:

Remember that ugly yellow tint I was telling you about?  This is the light in my upstairs hallway standing against the bathroom door.  Gross.  My ceiling fixture is shining a yellowish hue over the entire photo, and the minimal amount of light is casting some nasty shadows.  Because it's so dark, the photo didn't even come out very clear.

Emily Essentially | DIY | Affordable Ring Light - No Light

With the ring light, it looks like I could be standing in front of a window during the day and receiving a good amount of sunlight.  Nope - this was taken at 6:00 pm (completely dark outside) with no flash and zero post-edits to the photo.  See how great this looks?  Not only is the photo more clear and I'm better lit, but things are showing up true to color - my skin tone looks healthier (not like above, where apparently I have jaundice), and my eyes, hair and lip color look glamorous! 

Emily Essentially | DIY | Affordable Ring Light - With Ring Light

...and if the photos above aren't enough to convince you of the drastic difference, check out this side-by-side to show just how much better the right side (ring light) is than the left (no ring light).

Emily Essentially | DIY | Affordable Ring Light - Before-After

A DIY ring light is proof that you too can accomplish great selfies with just three steps.  Ring lights are like the secret weapons of photographers and beauty gurus - so why not have one yourself to enhance your photos?  This will seriously step up your #selfiesunday game if nothing else!  Let me know how yours turned out!  

Emily Essentially