5 Uses of Ringlights with Melanie Anderson

5 Uses of Ringlights with Melanie Anderson

5 Uses of Ringlights with Melanie Anderson

The ringlight I used for this article is an 18-inch constant with a gooseneck. The gooseneck is vital to the flexibility of the light, allowing me to bend and direct it. I prefer the 65W with 5400 Kelvin temperature. Many of you know my love for ringlights: The versatility of constant lights, ease of use, portability and affordability are among a few reasons they are part of my studio equipment.

This month, I share several ways to use ringlights. We have recently added a diffusor to our product line as well. The diffusors are wonderful for clients who have a more difficult time with the brightness of the light, as well as for some of our video projects when the light is just a bit too harsh.

ShutterFest 2016

What an incredible time we had at ShutterFest 2016. I brought several of my staff. I taught classes on senior photography, extreme sports and creative shoots with ringlights. Many attended our Monday Midnight Ringlight class, which we finally finished around 2 a.m. An epic night of creating was had by all. We photographed a few members of a local wrestling team, along with several models wearing parachute dresses and a one-of-a-kind comic dress stylized and shot by many attendees. With around 100 ShutterFesters surrounding us, we created some amazing images.

For the extreme wrestlers, we lined up the ringlights side by side to create flat light. I posed the wrestlers and applied eye black for a more intense look. For the comic dress model, I used a three-light setup, with two kickers and a main. For the tight shots, I shot horizontally through the ringlight. For the 3/4 shots, I pulled the main light over to the side and shot vertically.

Feel free to email me for behind-the-scenes and post-production videos of these creations.


We work with a local hair salon and create for them many times a year. These images are used for their website, social media and promotional materials. During these photo shoots, I keep in mind which images would be great for print competition. We love filming behind the scenes of these types of shoots—great for clients’ website and social media, and for ours too. You can view many of these videos on our YouTube channel at Anderson Photographs.


We photograph hundreds of headshots a year. It often takes my clients longer to walk into my studio and fill out the paperwork than it does for us to actually take the image. I use a three-ringlight setup. Two are kicker lights that are aimed at the subject, which provides separation of the subject from the backdrop. I place them at a height to create light from the top of their head to mid-waist, which also works great as the hair light. The main light is placed in front of my subject, which I shoot through the light in such a way that the catchlights are just around the pupil. If you find that your clients do not like the circular catchlight, contact us for a quick video tutorial on how to remove that catchlight and replace it with another.

Most of our headshot clients are directors of companies, hospital execs, Realtors and bankers. These images are used for their websites, social media accounts and business cards.


Ringlights are so portable that we take them everywhere. When using them on location with no accessibility to outlets, we use Paul C. Buff portable power, which can provide power for up to 90 minutes. With product photography, the gooseneck really comes in handy. I am able to bend these lights to the height that I need, and provide light directly overhead. I take three lights with me when on location. This ensures that I am able to create depth and dimension, and if a commercial client asks for a last-minute headshot, I’m prepared.

Senior EXTREME Sports

We are known in our community for our EXTREME Sports product line. In previous editions of Shutter, I have discussed how we market and sell these creations. My goal is to photograph these within 10 minutes. Again, using a three-light setup, I start with a tight horizontal shot through the light, very intense and impactful. I then move my main light away and begin capturing three to five additional images in their sports gear. These creations are always presold and designed after their order session. You can view many behind-the-scenes of these creations on our YouTube channel.

Volume Sports

Whether on location or in the studio, we use a three-light setup. High schoolers are photographed horizontally through the main light, and younger subjects are shot with 3/4 with the main light off to the side. For schools that are creating senior banners, we have a second station also set up with ringlights. These images are shot 3/4 vertically and are designed as banners that hang in gymnasiums and on sports fields. It’s an incredible way to market your business.

I use ringlights more than any other light source when photographing indoors. Their portability, affordability and ease of use allows me to create images that set my studio apart.

Typical Settings:



200–500 ISO



Nikon D4

24–70mm 2.8

85mm 1.4


Ringlight diffusor

Paul C. Buff portable power

Action Plans:

Register for ShutterFest 2017.

Network with a local hair salon.

Create a business headshot promotion.

Get the full story

To read the full article, launch the digital version of the August 2016 magazine.

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