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Cheap lighting for YouTube videos

Mar 23, 2021• Proven solutions


Everyone knows lighting is important, but not everyone can, or wants to, invest in professional lighting equipment. Luckily, there are ways around that.



Natural Light

The cheapest way to light your videos is by using the sun. It provides enough light that, when you rely on it, you don’t need another light source.

If you’re using natural light inside, it is best to stay fairly close to your window. You can either face it head-on to front light yourself (which is great for makeup videos) or let the sunlight hit you at an angle to give your face some more definition.

Try not to use a window while the sun is shining directly into it. You won’t be able to front light because looking towards it will be too difficult, and when it hits you from the side the shadows it creates will be too dark.


Getting By With Household Lamps

You may have seen lighting tutorials that use 3 or 4 different lights, all with different purposes. You can recreate these kinds of setups using household lamps, so long as you use the right bulbs. Look for ones that say ‘daylight’ on the package or the light in your videos will look overly orange.


Gabrielle has the whole lighting set up based on everyday lamps.


Generally, when you’re building a lighting setup you want 3 different elements. You need a main source of light (a key light), lights at one or both sides of you to add definition to your face, and a light for your background to help you stand out. You can accomplish all of these things using floor lamps or table lamps you already have if you remember to combine them with daylight lightbulbs instead of standard tungsten lightbulbs. These lightbulbs are inexpensive – Gabrielle got sets of them for $5 at Walmart.


Front-Lighting With Paper Lanterns

If you generally shoot talking-head style vlogs or even tutorials, then all you need might be some really good front lighting. Phil’s entire lighting set up consists of two inexpensive paper lanterns from Ikea set up right in front of him. They give him great, even, white light (it’s a good idea to combine them with daylight bulbs) for his entire face. The only drawback is that you have to stay close to them to get good results.


Phil shows you his lighting setup at 2:20.


Learn more about the limitations of using light you already have at home and how to light your YouTube video using studio lighting by checking out our post How To Light Your YouTube Video.

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Shanoon Cox
Shanoon Cox is a writer and a lover of all things video.