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Shooting Portraits with a $20 Work Light from Home Depot


After seeing photographer Skyler Burt’s experiments with lighting food photos using a cheap work light, photographer Jessica Kobeissi recently purchased that same $20 light from Home Depot for an experimental portrait shoot.

The light is the HDX 250-Watt Halogen Portable Work Light — HDX is Home Depot’s store brand. Similar light with the same design and specs can be found on Amazon for $16.

Since the light is strong and harsh, Kobeissi recommends placing some kind of diffuser between it and your model (a white sheet can work). But be careful not to place it too close, as the light gets extremely hot with use.

Kobeissi experimented with using the light as a backlight, sidelight, and direct light. Here are some of the resulting photos:


Side Light

Direct Light

“I think, overall, if you’re starting out in photography, you want to just practice, you want to experiment, this is a great light,” Kobeissi concludes.

Image credits: Photographs by Jessica Kobeissi and used with permission