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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Brecheisen


If you've been wanting to create a ring light, but you aren't mechanically, electrically, powertoolery (yeah I made that up) inclined, then this is the tutorial for you!

I've been wanting to make a ringlight for a couple of years now, and I finally got around to doing it. Part of my passion in diy comes from my love of using my hands. Quite often digital photography leaves me with a void, and it's like my soul is just dying to create something and be physical with it. I do a lot of diy's as well as mixed media, paintings, etc to fulfill that void for me. One of the biggest reasons I wanted to do this project is seen in the eyes of the subjects. This light creates stunning eye lights that aren't typical of a ring light, and depending on what the artist is trying to convey, the lights can assist with that. I first saw this project done by Jay Russell. He has beautiful portraits, and he made his much more portable. I'm so glad I found his tutorial and a few others, but I found them lacking due to the above statement about not being inclined in any way for a project like this. I wanted to write an in depth tutorial for those of you out there who are like me. Below I'll go through the materials, the process, and my measurements for the size I made.

Things to note: This project ran me about $120. If the catch lights in the eyes are not important to you, go purchase a ringlight from b and h or adorama. You can get a great, light weight, and much more portable ring light for the same price. Ring lights can range to be much higher than that, but you can get a good, professional looking product for that price.


1.) Jigsaw

2.) Wood

3.) Spray Paint (optional)

4.) Sander

5.) Zip Ties

6.) Keyless Light Sockets

7.) String (I used fishing line, which was dumb lol)

8.) Tape Measure

9.) Marker or Pencil

10.) Protractor

11.) Ruler

12.) Light Bulbs (I'm using cheap 40 watt equivalent soft white bulbs from walmart.)

13.) Wire strippers

14.) 2-3 extension cords depending on if you want a dimmer or not.

15.) Dimmer for the wattage you are using.

16.) I'm using the big hook pictured on the left to hang it from a backdrop stand.

17.) Hammer

18.) Drill

Basic Math:

You will need to make your own measurements for the size you want to make. Here is some easy math for you to do so. I'll be going through my tutorial with my own measurements.

Diameter: The measurement from one side of the circe to the other

Radius: 1/2 of the diamter

Circumference=2 x Radius x pi

To make sure your light bulbs are evenly spaced, you will take 360 and divide by that number to get the angle you need to draw your lines. I'm using 15 lights, so 360/15=24 degrees.


1.) Take your ruler and measure 2 feet into your wood. Hammer a tiny nail into place, and line your ruler up against it. Grab your pencil and string. Tie your string to the nail and tie your string onto the pencil at the 2 ft mark. Hold your pencil perpendicular to the wood, and draw a circle all the way round. Use your jigsaw to cut your outer Circle

2.) Make your lines for the lights. Line up your protractor with the center line, and make a mark for 24 degrees, 48 degrees, and so on. Continue on that 24 degree increment path all the way around. Then, just take your ruler and draw your lines.

3.) Cut your middle out. Use the same steps above on number one to cut out the middle. Just make sure your wooden ring is big enough to hold all the lights you want for your project. I may eventually want to add another ring, so I left some space for that.

4.) Make your holes for your sockets big enough for the extension cord to fit through twice.

5.) Cut your hook hole or any other holes you will be making at this point.

6.) Sand and paint your wood. This step is optional.

7.) Wire your sockets by stripping the wire and separating the 2 wires within it for each socket. This is a very crucial step, and this needs to be done right, because your are dealing with electricity. I am not an electrician, and I can only speak on what I've made. I make no guarantees on your safety. Please proceed with caution. You must loop the same wire around the same nail in each socket. This is called a parallel wiring. You take your neutral wire, loop it around the neutral nail, and continue on. You take your hot wire and do the same. After you do one socket, throw a bulb in, and test it to make sure it works.

8.) Attach your wire to a dimmer switch if you want and then to the other extension cord.

Here is a short timelapse my daughter recorded on the iphone of the making of the ringlight. There are some stills at the beginning and the end. BTW I'm terrible at making videos, and I'm definitely remaking this when I have the time. :)

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Jennifer Brecheisen | Photographer | Rock Hill SC

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