How to Take Great Portraits with a Ring Light – Ring Light Photography Tips

Ring lights are popular lighting tools used for portrait photography, videography, and more. You are probably searching for ideas on how to take portraits with a ring light. You are at the right place, then.

This content will give you the best information about the ring light and its use in portrait photography. The major topics you will cover by reading this article are—

  • What Is Ring Light for Photography?
  • How to Take Great Portraits with a Ring Light?
  • Most Uses of Ring Lights in a Portrait Photography
  • What Should You Look for in a Ring Light When Taking a Portrait Photo?
  • How to Use a Ring Light for Portrait Photographs?

So, without further talking, let’s get started.

What Is Ring Light for Photography?

What Is Ring Light for Photography

A ring light is a type of lighting tool used for making portraits, macro, and beauty shots. It contains many small bulbs forming a circle or just one circular fluorescent bulb. Ring light creates an alluring catch light on the subject’s eyes and emits diffused lighting to remove shadows.

The ring light is popular in portrait, macro, close-up, and many other photoshoots as it illuminates the subject. Besides overall studio lighting, professional photographers or videographers use ring lights to ensure the subject’s face is lit with soft and pleasing light.

You can set this light in front of the subject, placing the camera in the middle of the circle. Also, you can set the smaller ring lights upper side of the camera lens for macro photography.

How Does a Ring Light Work?

A ring light provides soft and direct light on a subject’s face and removes the shadows. If you capture shots using a ring light, you should place the camera lens in the center of the ring. It will ensure your subject is lit from the direction of the camera.

Ring lights, by being set up on its light stand, provide uniformity to lit surfaces. Vividly colorful ring lights create brilliant lighting on parts of a subject. Most ring lights use LED lights to give a softer effect.

Moreover, many LED ring lights are dimmable via onboard dimmers or smartphone apps. And they provide more versatility and greater control of color temperature. That’s why ring lights are also the best for professional photography and videography.

Why Is Ring Light So Popular for Portrait Shots?

The most use of ring light occurs in portrait photography. Because in portrait shots, providing soft lighting on the face is crucial. It gives a circle of light by widening the source of light. Ring light hits the face from slightly below and above and directly in front.

The most compelling benefit of using ring light in portrait shots is that it eliminates harsh shadows. It also provides a circular reflection and sparkle of light in the subject’s eyes. That’s why ring lights are often used in fashion and beauty portraits.

Moreover, ring lights are also famous for use in close-up, macro, and other portrait photoshoots like food and flower photography.

How to Take Great Portraits with a Ring Light?

Taking great portraits with a ring light is tricky but not difficult. You can easily do it. Here are some ideas of how to take great portraits with a ring light—

  • First, Place the ring light on a light stand or the front of the camera lens.
  • Set the ring light in front of your subject.
  • Make good camera exposure settings like f/5.6 at 1/160s as the starting point.
  • Take pre-shots. If they look good, move into real shots. If the pre-shots look too bright or too dark, make a perfect adjustment.

Most Uses of Ring Lights in a Portrait Photography

Most Uses of Ring Lights in a Portrait Photography

Why Use a Ring Light? It’s a common question between beginner photographers and videographers. Here is a clear idea of ring light use.

Though ring lights are mainly designed for medical and dental purposes, it has a wide range of use in photography and videography. In photography, ring lights are basically used in portrait shots. Here are some portrait photoshoots that often use ring lights.

Take Selfies or Self-Portraits

Ring lights are helpful for selfies or self-portrait photos. You should try a beauty ring light to create your best facial features when taking selfies. It will assist you in gaining consistent lighting with a relatively simple lighting setup.

For Close-Up Portraits

In Close Up portrait photography, professionals frequently use ring lights because ring lights provide more diffused and soft light on the subject and decrease harsh shadows. They can make your subject snap instead of washing out or altering the contours of the face. That’s why ring lights help to make the portraits more attractive and delightful and instantly draw the viewer’s attention.

Shoot Macro Portraits

In macro portraits, ring lights provide slightly more front-focused lighting than a lightbox. Moreover, they also deliver light around a small subject to remove shadows and bring out more detail. Ring lights help to gain balanced lighting in every shot. A ring light placed on the front of a camera helps a macro photographer gain consistent lighting in each new shot.

Take Highly Detailed Photos

Ring lights are perfect for emphasizing details in photos because their circular design allows the users to set the cameras in the center of the ring light to focus on specific details of the shoot. That’s because ring lights are popular for taking highly detailed photos.

What Should You Look for in a Ring Light When Taking a Portrait Photo?

What Should You Look for in a Ring Light When Taking a Portrait Photo

When taking portrait photos using ring lights, you need to look for some facts, such as setting up the ring light, positioning the ring light, and balancing the ring light, which can impact your photoshoots profoundly. So, here we go for them.

Ring Light Set Up and Settings

You must first set up the ring lights perfectly when taking portrait photos. Conditions can vary with every portrait you capture. That’s why you have to be able to adjust the light. Here are some ideas and tips for perfect ring light settings.

  • Put the camera in the center of the ring light.
  • You can use a ring light with a laptop camera.
  • Check positioning and reflections.
  • Adjust the light temperature.
  • Change the brightness to suit your needs.

Balancing the Light

The second thing you must consider when taking portraits in a ring light is balancing the light. A perfect light and color temperature is crucial for making your photos delightful.

You should experiment with lighting by taking pre-shots. If the light is too dark or too bright, you need to balance it with a perfect look. Also, you should check out the light temperature because some setups need warmer or cooler lights rather than usual.

Stand Position of Your Ring Light

Another crucial fact you need to look for when taking portrait photos in ring lights is positioning your ring light. There are numerous ways to stand the position of your ring light.

You should place the ring light at different distances away from you to check which distance works best with your surroundings.

Size and Portability

Another important thing you should consider is the size and portability of ring lights. There are different sizes of ring lights for different photoshoot purposes.

For instance, if you want to take macro shots, you should choose a small ring that can wrap around your camera lens. On the other hand, if you want to capture shots of portraits or detailed food setups, you should consider a large ring light. So, choose the ring lights according to your photography type.

Adjustable Power Option

The adjustable power option of the ring light is another important thing to consider when taking portrait photos. Before purchasing a ring light, check out that the light contains adjustable power options.

The power option will give you the best flexibility to make perfect adjustments according to the photoshoot types. For instance, a color temperature adjustment option will help you make a white balance post-processing with ease. It also provides some artistic effects.

How to Use a Ring Light for Portrait Photographs?

How to Use a Ring Light for Portrait Photographs

Not only for lighting purposes, but you can also use ring lights as props or compositional devices, standard studio lights, and for more. Here are the details for that.

Use as a Standard Studio Light

Ring lights can work both as circular light and normal light. So, you can use ring lights as standard studio lights. To do that, just raise the light, and angle it toward the subject. Then it indeed becomes a small softbox.

In this context, a standard 45-45 lighting pattern works great because to make dramatic ring-lit portraits at this angle; ring lights perform great as a normal light source. You can also use other basic lighting patterns like loop lighting. Another idea you can utilize is that if you have two ring lights, you can use them together to make any two-light setup.

As a Compositional Device or Prop

You can use ring lights as a compositional device or prop. For this purpose, you can use LED ring lights because they don’t get very hot. You can let your subject pose with the ring lights to make some unique and engaging images.

Women posing with ring lights as a prop can make some amazing compositional elements and fun portraits. It’s also helpful for illuminating the mood during a session. Moreover, the lights with different sizes will provide numerous results. So, try to avoid overusing it.

Standing in Front of the Ring Light

You will often see that many photographers take photos when their models are standing in front of the ring light. You can try this idea by getting your subject to stand or sit in front of the ring light.

It will help you capture some unique moody photos as the model will look serious in this position. Before making the pose, consider setting the ring light perfectly because it’s necessary to adjust the model and props in enchanting ways.

Standing Behind and Holding the Ring Light

Standing behind the ring light and holding that in portrait photography is attractive and engaging because it provides excellent views and looks in most cases. It portrays the model as cool and fun with amazing results.

If you want to take some cool photos of your model, you can make him/her stand behind the ring light and hold it. It’s effective for making unique and eye-catching portraits. You can also try different colored ring lights to create an amazing atmosphere.

Having the Ring Light Face You

Another option you can try using ring lights for portrait photography has the ring light face you. If you don’t want to take photos by holding the ring lights and want the ring lights to face you, you can set it as a standard lighting source.

In this context, set the camera in line with the middle of the ring light using an extra tripod. When you set up the camera and ring light correctly, you should include different lighting in your scene with minimal effort. After that, pose your model as you want, and take shots.

Try Pulling the Shutter

Pulling the shutter is a good technique for making beautiful portraits. In this method, photographers generally use two lights, such as flash and natural light.

In this context, you can utilize a ring light and a strobe where the ring light acts as natural light and the strobe acts as a flash. It will help you decrease the shutter speed for some astonishing effects. However, when pulling the shutter, you must manage the camera movement in this technique.

Using Ring Light at Night for Ambient Fill

Another effective use of ring lights is using them at night for natural fill. Ring lights are developed with pretty darn power that they can also be used as an ambient fill light in conjunction with a studio flash.

As ring lights are powerful, your strobes can blow them out of the water. That’s why you should set the power on the strobes and on the ring lights appropriately. Moreover, to do this, you should ensure that the power on your strobes drops far before committing to the technique.

What Are the Best Ring Light for Portrait Photography?

You will find different types of ring lights manufactured by different companies. Here is a list of the best ring lights for portrait photography.

  • Ikan Oryon Bi-Color LED Ring Light With Stand and Accessories Kit
  • Neewer Ultra Slim Bi-Color Ring Light Kit
  • HONGDAYI Clip-on Ring Light.
  • RoundFlash Magnetic Ringflash Adapter
  • Polaroid Universal Macro LED Ring Flash.
  • Godox Wistro Ring Flash AR400 Flash and LED.
  • FotodioX Selfie Starlite Vlog 18″ Bi-Colour Ringlight Kit.
  • Ledgo Bi-Color Flood Shoot-Through LED Ring Light
  • Westcott 18” Bi-Color LED Ring Light.
  • Yongnuo YN-14EX-C Macro Ring Lite


What is a ring light?

A ring light is a type of lighting tool used for making portraits, macro, and beauty shots. It contains many small bulbs forming a circle or just one circular fluorescent bulb. Ring light creates an alluring catch light on the subject’s eyes and emits diffused lighting to remove shadows.

Do professional photographers use ring lights?

Yes. Professional photographers use ring lights for numerous purposes, such as headshots, portrait shots, and more, including using them as props.

Why use a ring light for portrait photography?

The most use of ring light occurs in portrait photography. Because in portrait shots, providing soft lighting on the face is crucial. It gives a circle of light by widening the source of light.

Does a ring light make you look better?

Yes. A ring light is very effective in making a model look better because it focuses on a model face with stunning color and light that creates an astonishing look for a model.

How far away should a ring light be?

It depends on what is for ring light is going to be used. For videography, you should keep the ring light one or two feet away from the model. And for photography, you can set it depending on the photography type.

Is a ring flash good for portraits?

Yes. A ring flash is good for portraits because it removes the shadows from the subject face and creates an additional glow.

What size ring light is best for portrait photography?

Large 18-inch ring lights work great for portrait photography, headshot photoshoots, and macro and close-up photography.

Should I use two ring lights?

Yes. You can use two-ring lights for numerous purposes, such as to make your background and foreground more delightful. Also, you can use one of them as a ring light and the other as a prop.


Ring lights proved their popularity and importance for taking portrait photography and videography. In this article, you get vast ideas about ring lights and the best tips on how to take portraits with a ring light. Now you can easily utilize these techniques and make successful portrait photography.

Ashique Rahman
Ashique Rahman

Digital marketing and eCommerce specialist Ashique Rahman is a devoted researcher and writer. He has been publishing write-ups on e-commerce business, e-business updates, tips, and strategies, solutions to adjust to the trendy business strategies to improve their page rank, traffic, conversion rate, and SEO activities.

Related Post