These photography hacks are cheap but the final results will amaze you. These projects may even help you restart your interest in photography. Yes, you can spend thousands of dollars to buy gear that will do the same thing but it is a lot more fun to do a DIY project and capture amazing photography through something that you created. Let us walk you through 20 photography hacks that you can do at home.
1. Create Your Own Lightbox
For this photography hack, you will need a sheet of paper and tape. As you can see from the pictures below, you should tape the paper to a window first. Place your subject in front of the paper and switch your camera to Av mode (aperture to f/8, set the ISO to 100). After that, go to the Exposure Compensation and dial in +1 or +2, check your focus and shoot.
Your savings: $20 to $50 USD on a professional lightbox
2. Make Custom Bokeh Shapes
For our next photography hack, you’ll need a DSLR camera, a lens with a large aperture (small F-stop number) and a bit of knowledge about bokeh photography. Let’s make a list of things needed for this hack.
- A piece of black paper
- A pair of scissors
- Duct tape
- Craft knife to make different shapes.
- Also, put on some Christmas light as if it was that time of the year.
Make a round tube that fits nicely to your lens, and connect it to the lens. On the other end of the tube, attach your cut paper as shown in the 2nd photo below. Then use a low aperture setting (for bokeh) and shoot in manual focus mode towards your light source through the cutout holes/shapes. You’ll need to adjust the focus ring to get the desired bokeh effect/shapes.
Your savings: $20 on a professional Bokeh kit.
Source How About Orange
3. Make Your Photos Hazy With a Sandwich Bag
Here’s a simple and easy photography hack to add another use for your sandwich bag. Please take away (or eat) your snack, your camera needs the bag more than ever. Attach the sandwich bag to your lens as shown below and make sure parts of it are obstructing the lens view. Fire away to get your hazy photos!
Your savings: $20 on a professional Bokeh kit.
4. DIY Soft-Focus Lens Effects
Prepare a large square of clear plastic, elastic band, and some vaseline. Put some vaseline on your clear plastic paper and shoot. If you are using gauze, cut the fabric with scissors in the center and attach it to your camera lens with the elastic band (refer to 3rd photo below). Once you attach your gauze, put loose ends of the fabric over the lens. This will give you a soft-focus lens effect.
Your savings: Invaluable! We couldn’t find any commercial product so unique!
Source: Free People
5. Thrilling Shadow Effects With a Tea Strainer
The old tea strainer is our next perfect photography hack. This is perfect if you want to use natural light through a window or small opening. Make sure the light is strong enough and the subject is close to the strainer. If you arrange it so, you can get strong shadows which cast beautiful patterns that highlight depth.
Your savings: Invaluable! We couldn’t find any commercial product so unique!
Source: Christina Key
6. Make a DIY Flash Diffuser
For this photo hack you will need;
- Camera with a pop-up flash
- White film container
- Sharp blade.
Using the ruler, measure the thickness of the pop-up flash. Then cut a piece from the film container to match this thickness (see #4 below). This is so that you can easily insert the film container into the pop-up flash. Once you set up everything, take photos as you would normally but bear in mind that the film container will diffuse your flash’s harsh light to create soft light that is perfect for photography.
Your savings: $10 on a flash diffuser from Amazon.
7. Hack Your Phone Camera to Take Macro Photos
Your phone camera can achieve great close-ups but you’ll need to follow this hack in order to get the most out of it. Follow these steps below:
- Find some old laser pointer
- Inside of the pointer, there is a focusing lens
- Remove it for later use
- Use a hairpin to hold the lens (as in image no.4)
- Affix this it to your phone’s camera using tape
- Take a picture ( we used a coin as an example)
- Zoom in if you want to see close-ups
Your savings: Upwards of $100 for a macro lens.
Source: Mind Blowing Things
8. Make Stunning Backdrop Using a Laptop
If you’re running out of time, this hack will help you out for sure. All you need to do is put up a bokeh background on your computer screen and put an object in front of it.
Source: Photography juice
9. Improve Your Macro Photography With a Cheap Plastic Cup
You’ll need some plastic cups, scissors, your camera, and (optional) some gaffer’s tape. This hack is so cheap and so easy to make at home, you have to try it out. First, attach the cup to the lens and secure it with tape. Then place the cover your subject with the cup. This method works because the plastic cup secures both the subject and your camera to prevent movement. It also has the added benefit of plastic cup acting as a diffuser to give you very soft light.
10. Make a DIY Light Box
The steps are pretty simple and here’s what you’ll need for this photography hack: A cardboard box, box cutter, packaging tape, and a tissue paper. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do this photography hack:
- Tape one side of the box with the tape in order to close it
- Cut off all flaps from the other side while using the cutter carefully
- Take the pencil and mark a square on three sides of the box (top, left, right), leave one (bottom)
- Cut out the square on the marked 3 side
- Take the tissue paper and cut it to fit the holes
- Cover the holes with the paper and tape it firmly
- Tape the poster paper as shown in Photo #7 ( the width should be smaller than the width of the box)
All there’s left is to place your products inside and shoot! You may want to try different lighting setups such as external flash that is placed from sides of the box or in front of the box.
Here are the steps explained with photos:
Source: Maeling Designs
Taking out distractions with this photography hack put more emphasis on the product that you want to showcase.
11. Create a Rain Cover for Your Camera
We all have problems while shooting in the rain, but there’s a solution to it, don’t lose your hope! For this photography hack, you’ll need a zip-lock bag, a color marker, gaffer tape, and a pair of scissors.
- First, mark the lens perimeter using the marker and cut a hole in the plastic bag using scissors. (photo #1)
- Then invert (inside out) your plastic bag and place your lens hood inside the bag so that lens connector side comes out of the hole (photo #2)
- Securely attached the lens hood to the plastic bag as shown below and flip back the plastic bag so that the lens connector side of the hood is inside the bag (photo #3).
- Place your camera inside the bag and connect it to the lens hood and close the zip locker.
Once you’re finished with all the steps, be patient and wait for rain!
Source: Purple Summit Photography
12. Make Your Own Colored Lens Filters
This hack is super easy and so fun to make by ourselves. You’ll need a piece of paper, scissors, a plastic sheet, and a short piece of string. We will list the steps below:
- Take your lens cap and place it on a piece of paper
- Use your marker and go round your lens cap. Then mark a small box-shaped extension to this circle. (Photo #1)
- Cut out the shape
- Take this shape and put it on a clear plastic sheet, trace it with the marker and cut it out
- Once you get your plastic cutouts, draw your own designs using various colors on it
- If you want to attach these to your camera, pinch a hole in the box-shaped square and use a string to connect them to the camera.
And that’s it!
Source: 23 Skidoo Blog
13. Reflective Card Hack for Product Photography
The things that are needed for this photo hack:
- A cardboard box
- A roll of aluminum foil
- A piece of tracing paper (any color, at least 20 x 36 inches)
- 6″ spring clamp
- box cutter
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to set things up:
- Cut a piece of cardboard and attach the aluminum foil to it so that one side is covered with aluminum foil. (Photo #1,2,3,4)
- You will need to also find a window with ample light coming from it and place a table in front of it.
- Lay a piece of Aluminum on the table and place your product on top of it. You can try different angels here.
- Tape the tracing paper to the window (it diffuses light)
- Finally, attach the spring clamp to your aluminum reflector from step #1 and place it in front of the product so that it is evenly light.
You will be surprised by how well lit and clear your product photography is! This is a great hack if you have your own e-commerce store or want to sell used items from home. Remember, a better presentation always attracts more clients and better prices!
Source: DIY Projects
14. Use A Business Card To Bounce Flash
Only two things are needed for this simple photography hack: a business card and a pair of scissors. Below we list the steps for this hack:
- Pop your flash and mark the two arms of the flash (which connects it the camera body) on your business card
- Cut the business card using scissors along the marked lines (about 1 cm deep)
- Attach the business card to the flash as shown below and shoot away.
Source: DIY Photography
15. How to Shoot a Multi Droplet Shot
You only need a few basic supplies to set up this multi droplet shoot:
- A piece of glass
- A few water drops
- Plastic wrap
- Something to hold up the glass ( the author used four glasses)
- Interesting patterned paper or vivid fabrics (You can even use an image on your tablet.)
- Last but not least, a good tripod
Here are the steps to create this photography hack:
- Place four glasses on the floor next to a window with ample natural light.
- Setup your camera facing the floor using your tripod as shown
- Place the glass on top of the 4 glasses
- Place the plastic wrap on top of the glass
- Spray water on top of the plastic wrap with a spray bottle (We use a plastic wrap because it holds water bubbles better)
- Slide your patterned paper underneath the glass.
Here’s a photo of the setup and beautiful multi droplet photos taken with it
Source: Boost Your Photography
16. Create DIY Lens Flares
This could be the easiest photography hack on this list. You’ll need a CD (of your favorite singer, of course) and a DSLR camera. Make sure you remove the lens hood before attempting this hack since lens hoods are specially designed to prevent lens flare. Try flashing the CD in different angles so that some of the reflected light from CD gets into the lens. You can look through the viewfinder and shoot when you see flares intensify for different angles/placements of the CD.
Source: Bored Panda
17. Create a Beauty Dish From an Aluminum Roasting Pan
Believe it or not, you’ll just need three things for this photography hack. They are
- Lambency diffuser (you can make a DIY one here.)
- An aluminum turkey-roasting pan
- A colored lid/cover for the Lambency diffuser
First, take your Lambency diffuser and attach the lid (1st photo below). Then take the Aluminium foil and cover the lid so that it reflects back the light to the aluminum dish that we will be creating.
Next, take aluminum turkey-roasting pan and cut a hole in the middle to fit the base (diffuser). Place the foiled lid on your diffuser (you may need a little duct tape to keep things fastened) and then attach the diffuser to the strobe light.
That’s it, simple yet effective. Check out the final results:
Source: DIY Photography
18. DIY Soft-Focus Filter With Pantyhose!
If you are a male photographer, you may need to borrow some items for this photo hack from your girlfriend! Let’s check together what we need for this beautiful filter:
- A nylon pantyhose or trimmings in any color (black or skin is recommended)
- Rubber bands
- Your camera
Pull the pantyhose over your lens, fix the fabric with one or two rubber bands on the lens. Black stockings create a delicate gray veil. skin-colored or white stockings, on the other hand, create a color-neutral softener effect.
Here is another photo showing before and after effect of this easy photography hack.
Source: Giga Android
19. Make a DIY Bean Bag Tripod
If a tripod is not in your budget right now or you find carrying a tripod is a hassle, our next photography hack is for you. You can save money and travel light with this tripod alternative. Here’s what you need:
- Rice or beans for filling
- Needle and thread
Start by marking two circles of 8-inch diameter and cut them off with your scissors. Then cut another rectangular piece of 8×24 inches. Then use pins to attach two circular fabric pieces to the rectangular piece. Once you are done, it should resemble a cylindrical shape as shown in 3rd photo. Then you will need your sewing skills to properly sew the bean bag. Don’t forget to leave a hole at the top of the edge so that you can fill your bean bag with rice or beans.
Source: Do it yourself divas
20. A Portable Seamless Photography Background
For this setup, you will need;
- Two pieces of white foam board
- Poster board (to be used as sweep)
- Two metal brackets, and clamps.
Start by joining the two boards together at a 90-degree angle. To do this, place the two brackets on a flat surface and lay the baseboard on top of the bracket’s flat legs. Then, place the other board leaned to the bracket’s vertical legs and use clamps to attach them to the bracket (As shown by photo #2). The final step is to take your white poster board and attach it to the vertical foam board using tape.
Once the setup is complete, please your object on top of the foam and shoot. As you can see from the results below, this hack is great if you are doing product photography.
Now it’s your turn!
That’s our list of 20 photography hacks that anyone can afford and make at home! Please try one or a few of them. We guarantee you that it will be a fun project and your results will be amazing. We would love to see your photos in the comments section below!
Now that you’ve finished this article, you’re a better photographer.
But the fact is, the journey doesn’t stop there. There are more tips, tricks, and secrets--all of which will help you take gorgeous photos.
And if you want to learn all of these secrets, I recommend you sign up for the PhotoBlog newsletter. We send our subscribers all sorts of great stuff--including the tips, tricks, and secrets, straight from the experts. All to help you capture world-class photographs.
Did I mention that it’s all totally FREE?
(Oh, and we’ll send you a natural lighting cheat sheet--designed to help you use light in ways you’ve never considered.)
So to start taking stunning photos, enter your email:
Download FREE Photography Lighting Cheat Sheet
Subscribe and get a free downloadable photography lighting cheat sheet