Last Updated on 05/15/2019 by Mark Beckenbach
That firefly lamp portrait photography trend is pretty simple to do on the cheap!
The trend that has taken over Instagram and lots of cinema is firefly lamp portrait photography. Lots of folks don’t know how to do it themselves or simply just associate it with other photographers. But the truth is that it doesn’t need to be that way. You can put your own twist and spin on it using Christmas lights, which is very affordable and gives you a ton of options. The bottom line: it’s all about being in touch with your own feelings.
Trust us, this isn’t difficult; let’s take a look!
The DIY Option
If you hang out at bars often, you’ll know that liquor makers put some time and thought into the designs of their bottles. These bottles look really cool and are very interesting. One of the ways that I love going about this kind of lighting is by recycling those bottles after cleaning them, and then using my own DIY lights from Amazon. Essentially, the lights are made of copper wire with a switch that you put into the bottles. The trick here is trying to find a way to creatively hide the switch (which is fairly large). You can use a subject’s hands to do this creatively or perhaps glue it to a bottle cap of some sort.
When you’re done, you can use them as living room decorations.
Or, on Amazon: If You’re Not a Maker
Believe it or not, you generally don’t even need to DIY these unless you really wish to. There are tons of makers on Amazon who do it, and some of my favorites are these. They’re special in that they use a rechargeable battery that charges via solar light. When it detects a lack of sunlight, the lights inside will turn on automatically. They’re fantastic and built well enough for the type of photography that you’re doing.
What makes a lot of these images work so well is the idea of the ethereal and magical in the scenes. Sometimes it means thinking like a kid while other photographers may want to embrace the sexy side of things. The two polarized sides of the spectrum can work very well.
So where do you get inspiration?
- Fairy tale books
- Old school mythology books
- Comic books
- Movies (Peter Pan)
- Television shows (*cough* Stranger Things *cough*)
Another idea is to genuinely find the inspiration within yourself. Choose an emotion and figure out a way to manifest it in the shoot.
Don’t Be Afraid to Use Off Camera Flash (or other lights)
One of the reasons why Firefly Lamp Portrait Photography is so popular is because it lets photographers use off camera lighting with ease while their subject just moves it around. If you choose to be significantly less lazy (wink wink) then consider using an off-camera flash and even off-camera lighting in some way. On top of that, throw a gel on the flash and lock your white balance to get more consistent colors throughout the shoot.
My personal tip: go for neons.
Consider Alternative White Balances
My last quick tip: change your white balance setting. Generally speaking you should go for Daylight (5500K) or Tungsten (3200K) and just play with those. But fluorescent is also a nice option. Not only does this speed up your post-processing by giving you colors more or less set in stone (that will just need minor tweaks) but it will also add a different mood and feeling to your images.