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10 DIY Photography Tips and Tricks

Gabby Frank
Written By
Gabby Frank
Published On
Nov 29, 2023
A top-down view of food on a table through a digital camera screen

Photography can be a fulfilling career or a fun and creative hobby. Unfortunately, as many professional photographers know, taking pictures can be expensive! 

The equipment isn’t cheap and you seemingly always need to invest in a new camera lens or lighting accessory to keep up with the trends and client demands. Although the bills can easily climb through the roof, there are a few ways to keep your wallet happy. 

With that in mind, here are 10 budget-friendly DIY photography tips and tricks to help you capture better photos without breaking the bank! 

1. White and Black Foam-core

Like all the best DIY photography tricks, this one starts at your local dollar store. 

Stroll down the craft aisle and grab a few pieces of white and black foam core, often referred to as “white/black cards” on set. They help speed up processes and better control the lighting. 
The white card helps lighten shadows and illuminate the subject better whereas a black card can absorb the light to create more contrast and darken the scene. You can even bend the sheets in half to create a miniature
v-flat

2. Bristol Board

Before you leave the dollar store, grab a few sheets of your favourite colour Bristol Boards! This is another one of the best photography tips for beginners, as these make fantastic backgrounds for product photography or small subject matter. 

Pro-tip: always research your client’s brand colours before purchasing paper. The image below was for our Cannabis client, Cruuzy.

 two Influence Agency staff members holding up a joint and nugget of cannabis as part of a product shoot

3. Tin Foil

Next on our list of DIY photography tips and tricks is tin foil. Why? Because this shiny material is magic when it comes to reflecting light. It’s a cheap reflector that works in a pinch and is easy to set up. It can also make a great bounce (similar to the white card mentioned above) or even a funky background if you crumple it up! 

4. Fishing Wire 

If you’ve seen a photograph of something floating in mid-air, it’s likely hung by fishing wire. This hack can be so fun to experiment with and is also very helpful when capturing stop-motions of objects coming out of a box. The thin wire is easy to edit out of the photo and doesn’t cast any unwanted shadows.

Pro-tip: if something isn’t sitting where you want it to, tie the fishing wire to both ends and secure the other ends with tape or to a C-stand.

5. Plastic Sandwich Bag 

Hear us out… this may sound like a weird one, but have you ever seen a beautiful photo with a blurry border and a sharp focal point? This dreamy aesthetic is really fun to test on portraiture or products for creative clients! 

Forget fiddling with camera settings; just wrap a sandwich bag around your lens and cut a small hole in the center of your lens. This is one of our favourite DIY photography tricks tips for beginners because it makes good photos so easy! 

Here’s an example of the interesting images we did for Highly Dutch:

a landscape photography shot of a cannabis plant
Source: TIA

6. Sticky Tack 

Sticky tack is another one of the best DIY photography tricks, as this multi-purpose “work play-doh” helps keep objects in place and is very useful for prop styling. 

One of its best uses is when you need to remove glare on a shiny object being photographed in the studio. If you put a little piece on one side and tilt the product away from the light, it reduces and sometimes completely removes the shine from the light. 

7. Paint 

Paint your existing props or backgrounds in different colours to give them some new life! 
The extra effort is so worth it and a
great sustainable choice to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Better yet, if you invest in some fun prop blocks, textured backgrounds, or surfaces then you can make them any colour you desire! 

Pro Tip: If you buy one small can of paint, you can create a really cool monochromatic set to produce great photos that are very on-trend! 

8. Spray Bottle 

Having a spray bottle in your tool kit is very handy, as you can use it to splatter food colouring on a white background, spray glycerin and water onto fruit for condensation, or even create a fake rainfall behind a product. 

Use your creativity and imagination to create something unique and fun! The example below is from a TIA creative shoot with glycerin sprayed onto the can.

9. DIY GOBO

Another one of our favourite DIY photography tips for beginners is making your own GOBO, as this is a light modifier placed between a light source and the subject to create a custom pattern. The easiest one to try is a window frame cut out or a simple circle to mimic a spotlight. You’ll need an exacto knife, a piece of foam core, and a pencil to draw your stencil.

 

 portrait photography in action, a can of Barbet surrounded by grapefruit slices
Image source: TIA

10. Lamps 

Good lighting makes a great photograph, so try using the bare bulb of a lamp without the shade to cast harsh shadows. 

Find a funky lamp shade with cutouts as a DIY GOBO. Or, you can even experiment with a bright colourful transparent shade as if it’s a gel. Play around with available light sources in your home to create a unique and striking image!  

See Professional Photography Tricks in Action

There you have them: 10 DIY photography tips and tricks to help you produce some high-quality content on a tight budget. However, we understand if you’d rather hand your photography over to the experts—and we’re happy to help!

The Influence Agency’s in-house creative team has mastered branded photography. We’ve worked with clients across various industries, helping them boost their marketing campaigns with digital photography that leaves an impression. 

Contact us today to get started!

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