As a photographer, gear and equipment is often very expensive. If you are hesitant to invest in pricey equipment, consider using DIY hacks to create your own gear. Obviously, low-budget DIY gear will not always be the highest quality, but it can be a great way to experiment with different equipment or even different styles of photography before investing in full price equipment. Especially when you are starting out and want experience with certain gear, try out a few of these hacks to help improve your photography.
1. DIY Reflector
When I first started taking pictures, I didn’t have a reflector to bounce light on a subject. Instead of buying one, I used a piece of cardboard wrapped in tin foil as a makeshift substitute. As long as you tape it at the corners to avoid the tin foil shifting on the cardboard, this trick is very effective for reflecting light, especially for portrait photography.
Another great way to make reflectors is by using insulation board with reflective backing. These are usually available at home improvement stores and are a cheaper option than buying reflectors.
2. Soft Focus
I enjoy taking photography with a soft focus effect, but have never bought a soft focus filter. There are several other ways which can help you achieve a soft focus effect in your photographs. One way is to use plastic fastened around your lens. I cut an “X” in the middle of the plastic and use a rubber band to secure the plastic in place. By allowing the edges of the plastic to partially drape over the lens, you can create a nice soft effect.
Another way is to use uncut plastic pulled tightly across the lens and secured with a rubber band. You would then smear vaseline slightly around the edges to enhance the effect. I have never tried this for fear of getting vaseline on my lens, but I have seen others use it and it creates a more dramatic soft effect.
You can also use burlap, cheese cloth, bubble wrap, or silk scarves to drape around the lens. Try out a few to see which one creates the effect you like the most.
When taking pictures with backdrops, I have to get creative. I usually use a white or colored sheet as my backdrop and tall furniture and clamps to secure it into place. Curtain rods have also been a very effective way to hold up my backdrop. If the sheet has trouble staying in place, placing something heavy at the bottom corners should help it stay put. While sheets are not the most effective backdrop, they can be a great way to start experimenting with backdrops and different colors. I’ve especially found these DIY backdrops useful in creating dramatic black and white portrait photography.
4. Camera Flash
Have you ever used the pop up flash on your camera and cringed at the harsh unflattering highlights? Try out this little trick to diffuse the light from your pop up flash. If you have a white business card in your wallet, all you need to do is place it in front of the flash and immediately, it bounces and diffuses the light from the flash to create a much more flattering effect. If the card doesn’t stay in place, you may need to hold it and experiment with different angles to get the best effect. I usually try to keep the card at 45 degrees.
These are the only DIY hacks I have personally tried, but a quick Google search will offer a tremendous amount of photography equipment hacks for you to try out! Some of them are fairly easy and you may already have the supplies needed. Some are definitely more advanced and take time to assemble. However, whichever DIY hacks you decide to try, it can be a great way to save you money and allow you to experiment with different types of photography gear!