How to Use a Ring Light for Your Business Headshots

| 4 min read

There are many tricks of the trade when it comes to photographing headshots, particularly for business use. Professional business portraits should be attractive but in a subtle authoritative way. And a great way to ensure your photos have a professional look is by using a ring light.

You may have one yourself or you may have seen them used in studios. A ring light can soften while reflecting one’s best features. These light devices were once only used by professional photographers in studios and for fashion photoshoots. Today, they are commonly used among amateur photographers for social media photos and recommended by professional photographers for use with virtual headshots.

What Is a Ring Light?

A ring light is as the name implies: a circle of artificial light made by rows of LEDs. They are doughnut shaped and have lights running along the outside of the ring, so a lens or camera can be placed in the inner circle, allowing for uniform light across the subject being photographed. 

Popular ring lights used by the general public are typically smaller than professional ring lights, so they can fit on the lens of the camera or even attach to a smartphone. The studio-sized ones require their own stand, much like a tripod. 

A ring light is often used by videobloggers to draw attention to their face. They are also used by photographers who specialize in food shots and detailed photos of small subjects. 

What Makes a Ring Light Good for Headshots?

Headshots are used to make a statement. For that reason, they need to portray the subject in the best light possible (pun intended). In addition to being really easy to use, ring lights generally provide even lighting and do not cast harsh shadows on the face. Whether the lighting in the room is already bright or dim, a ring light allows the photographer to have sufficient fill light for any shadows. 

A ring light can be an economic choice for many as it takes the place of other often bulkier and expensive lighting equipment. To achieve a similar light effect to the ring light, it may require the use of a receiver, strobe, stand, modifier, and trigger—equipment you might not have if you are taking virtual headshots from home. 

What Should You Look for in a Ring Light for Business Portraits?

If you are planning on taking your own business portraits, the type of ring light you choose will depend highly on the location of the photo session. Here are a few things you should consider before choosing a ring light.


As with most photography equipment, you get what you pay for. While you don’t necessarily need the most expensive studio ring light, the price tag will be greatly influenced by the quality, size, and features of the ring light. The type of bulb used may also make a difference in the total cost as fluorescent bulbs need to be replace more frequently than LEDs. It really depends on your preference.


The quality of a ring light is nearly as important as the cost. Again, you are investing in your business by taking high-quality photographs, so a low-quality device may not be the solution. The more durable, the longer it will last and be able to withstand use over time. As with most rules of the game, the best quality equipment can be priceless. It’s great to read through the product reviews when comparing the quality of ring lights made by different manufacturers.

Light Settings

Some models of ring lights have light setting options that allow you to control the colour temperature, brightness, and light strength or intensity. Here at Bonnie Dickson Photography, we recommend looking for a model that allows you to control the brightness or intensity of the light. 


Do your research in what equipment you may need (or want) for your portraits. Knowing the options available will help narrow down what’s essential and what may be just “noise”. These additions can include stands, blubs, battery packs, and extension cords. A simple tripod or even a cell phone holder can be helpful accessories when using a ring light.


When it comes to ring lights, size is one of the most crucial aspects. It boils down to how you intend to use it. For instance, macro photography, which consists of taking close-up photographs of rather small items or intricate details to make the subject look much larger. You can take macro photos of smaller products you sell, or you can use macro photos to show off details that may not be visible to the naked eye via ordinary photography (e.g., wood grains or fabric textures). In this case, you may require a light that attaches to the camera lens. 

Most small item photography requires a 10-inch ring light, while business portraits are commonly done with 12- to 14-inch sizes. Ring lights are available in a variety of sizes, so make sure you consider which would be ideal for your photo needs.

Bonnie Dickson Photography has the equipment, experience, and knowledge to provide professional virtual or live business portrait headshots. Through her work as a business photography, Bonnie understands the importance of having a headshot represent you and your livelihood. She offers virtual headshot workshops as well as social distancing headshot sessions that will produce high-quality professional images that showcase you! Contact Bonnie today for a complimentary 30-minute discussion on your virtual headshot photography needs in Toronto and the GTA.