Skip to main content

Low-Cost Video and Photography Lighting for Beginners

Until I started my YouTube channel, I didn't realize how horribly dark my house was. I needed inexpensive lighting solutions!


I Was a YouTuber With Bad Lighting...

I started a YouTube channel a while back. As a newbie to the entire process I did not realize how horribly dark my house was. I love my overhead lighting (after all I picked them), but they cast a yellow glow onto everything. So while doing my first videos I noticed I had a huge lighting issue. Those oh-so-adorable amber-colored globes on my ceiling fans were horrible for videos.

I did what anyone else would do, I went to Google. Have you seen the prices of even the most basic video or photography lighting kits? Ridiculous to say the least. So I have been on a mission for a while now to find a low-cost, easy-to-use alternative to standard lighting kits.

For the most part I had been attempting to use natural lighting. For me that meant sitting on the steps in the foyer and using the light coming in since it was the only area that had suitable natural lighting. However, it made my videos awkward to record while discussing whatever topic I was covering in a video.

Creating high-quality images or videos does not have to cost a fortune these days. If you are looking to start a YouTube channel, create a blog, or just take better selfies and family photos there are some great low-cost alternatives on the market. I recently purchased an item that was a game-changer as far as lighting goes for my YouTube channel and photographs.

Troubleshooting Lighting Issues

Before you jump in and order lighting, you need to troubleshoot your lighting issues. There can be free fixes for your lighting issues and you may be able to avoid spending anything on lighting in the beginning.

Test Different Areas of Your House

First take a short test video or photograph in various rooms of your home and watch them. This will tell you the best area for lighting in your home. If all your videos seem to be lacking in quality, this is likely a lighting issue.

Bathroom Plus White Sheet

Next you can try the bathroom. I know we all hate bathroom selfies, but they are doing it wrong and I will share tips on how to take a great video or picture in the bathroom without anyone knowing where you are. Here is what to do:

  • Hang a solid white sheet across your bathroom so that it makes the area you will be in smaller.
  • Be sure to let any natural light in that you can.
  • Turn on the overhead bathroom lights or vanity lights.

Hanging a solid white sheet will not only block any unsightly backgrounds in your bathroom, but will also create a light barrier. Of course natural lighting is best, but turning on any lights in the bathroom will bounce them off the sheet and keep your blocked-off area well-lit. The white sheet will reflect the light to some degree and keep the area you are shooting in well-lit.

Still Dissatisfied?

If you find that you are still not satisfied with your video and photography lighting after trying the bathroom method, I still have a low-cost solution. My bathroom is long and narrow with very little natural lighting, so unfortunately this method was not my favorite.

Desk lamp

Desk lamp

My Solution: An Inexpensive LED Desk Lamp

Call me crazy but an LED desk lamp has been perfect for my video lighting needs. It also helps me take amazing selfies or photos as well. I also use it at night when I am writing with the laptop so I do not disturb my husband if he is sleeping. This lamp has many features that make it an ideal alternative to video and photography lighting:

  • Adjustable neck
  • 3 light settings
  • USB charging
  • Lightweight design
  • Touch on/off

This desk lamp is so lightweight that it makes it easily portable. Being so portable means that I can move and position it for the best quality images. It is by far the best low-cost video lighting I have found. The lamp lights up selfies better than the flash feature on my iPhone, too. The portability and USB charging mean that it will last for hours as I do takes for videos without worrying that I will need to recharge.

Three adjustable lighting settings make it possible to adjust the amount of light I need with a simple touch of my finger and no fumbling with equipment. The highest setting is my favorite choice for videos as they remain well-lit throughout.

Here is an example of a photograph I took for a blog post with my lamp. I was struggling to get a better image quality, I finally reached a satisfactory result with my LED desk lamp as lighting.

Here is an example of a photograph I took for a blog post with my lamp. I was struggling to get a better image quality, I finally reached a satisfactory result with my LED desk lamp as lighting.

Multipurpose Lamp

Though the focus of this article is to tell you about the lamp as a low-cost video and photography lighting tool, I can use it for many other things as well. The three brightness settings are really amazing and suit all sorts of needs. It comes in handy for:

  • Working
  • Cosmetics routines
  • Video/camera lighting
  • Alternative to using a flashlight
  • Children's rooms, and night trips to the potty.

When I first ordered my Eye-Care LED lamp I did not think of all the ways I could use it. I was just looking for a small lamp that I could use that would not bother my husband if he were trying to sleep while I was working. This is brighter than most LED flashlights that I have too. With three settings and the ease of just a touch turning up, down or off I can easily shut it off if I notice anyone stirring.

It was not until I was attempting to record a product review for my YouTube channel at night that I had the idea to use it for video lighting. I was blown away by how amazing my video quality was using the lamp.

This is a perfect lamp for small children too. Since it is adjustable and lightweight for any late-night bathroom visits they can carry it with them—especially handy for any little ones that are afraid of the dark.

Low-Cost Lighting Solution

By no means do I have a huge following on any of my media platforms. So until something goes even semi-viral I try to find low-cost alternatives to all my needs. Choosing the lamp for video lighting was really a no-brainer for someone like me who is extremely cost-conscious when it comes to their purchases.

The regular price of the lamp is $25 but I found it on sale and got it for around $10. As I have been writing this, I noticed that it does tend to go on sale a lot, making it a great buy for alternative video and photography lighting.

It is now four years later and my lamp is still providing me with great lighting for my selfies and other projects as well.

© 2017 Cynthia Hoover


Cynthia Hoover (author) from Newton, West Virginia on April 16, 2017:


I prefer natural lighting as much as I can get it too! I agree, sometimes depending on the subject it is difficult to find good natural lighting.

craftybegonia from Southwestern, United States on April 10, 2017:

Very practical tips. I like to take my photos during daytime, with natural light, which is what gives me true colors, but sometimes, it is not as convenient, and having light that will not look harsh or alter the colors, would be much welcome. Thanks for the information!

Michelle Mollohan from Looneyville, WV on April 07, 2017:

Good tips! I have found my bathroom has the best lighting in my home as well, but I usually have the door as my backdrop. I may have to invest in a white sheet and check out this lamp!