Picture Lights

Picture lights are light sources used to illuminate photos and art by directing attention, brightness, and glow directly onto the piece. They can be attached to a wall above a picture or placed on a desk or table to spotlight a hanging photo. Picture lights come in a variety of styles with several different attributes, but they all should provide an evenly distributed illumination and avoid garish or harsh bulbs and settings.

Picture Light Recommendations

Whether attaching the light to the wall or shining it from a low table, the picture light should provide museum quality light using halogen or cold cathode fluorescent lighting. Be sure not to exceed the wattage recommendation for the particular light fixture, and check whether a frosted bulb or a clear bulb will cast the least amount of reflection off the glass. Picture lights can also be fitted with a dimmer switch in order to adjust the lighting on the object to create a desired atmosphere or mood.

Types of Picture Lights

Some picture lights have telescopic legs that can extend and adjust to an angle for further dramatic effect. With extendable legs and bases, illumination will vary with length. Generally:

  • An 8-inch long picture light will properly illuminate a 12-24 inch frame
  • A 12-inch light is appropriate for a 12-37 inch frame
  • An 18-inch light can illuminate a frame that is 18 inches and larger.

Whether telescopic or secured, picture lights can be custom ordered to match any d��cor or to highlight framing accents or contents within the frame. Cordless light casing designs such as antique, polished, or matte can have chrome, nickel, or brass finishes which will add accent as well as illumination to a favorite photo or painting.

Installing Picture Lights

Installation of a picture light can be done with a few basic household tools, and the light can generally be attached directly to the top of the frame or the wall above it using a screwdriver and some screws.

Without the use of a recessed outlet or an outlet located behind the art, the cord from a picture light can be hidden in a variety of ways. Placing plants or furniture strategically to camouflage the cord, painting the cord or using a cord cover are all viable ways to disguise a picture light cord. Also, an insulated line of staples can secure a cord to a base board to keep it straight and unnoticeable along the floor until the nearest outlet.