If you have some translucent film canisters lying around, you can turn them into DIY glow sticks for light painting photography. Fuse three of them together into one translucent tube, stick a small flashlight into it, wrap it with a colored translucent sheet, and voilà, you have yourself a cheap and simple glow stick. It’s a way to add some thickness to your light painting “brush”.
Photographer Zack Arias has an interesting piece on why he doesn’t think photographers should feel threatened by others who offer their services for absurdly low prices:
Think of the brides out there who don’t have a budget but want some photos of their weddings. Maybe there are young couples getting married who don’t have the parents to pay for a big event or they don’t want to start their young family in debt but they would like someone to come take some pictures. Are you saying that if they can’t afford a $3,000+ photographer then they don’t deserve photos? Are you saying that if they can’t afford a Mercedes then they shouldn’t be allowed to drive? Shame on you. Not everyone can afford pro level prices. That doesn’t mean they can’t have some level of photographic services available to them.
[...] I’ve laid this all out to make the point that cheap photography has its place. It has its place for clients who can’t afford much and it has its place for photographers trying to build something from nothing. It’s part of becoming a full time working photographer in an age when so many want to become a photographer.
Videographer Joel Loukus created a continuous ring light source — which he calls the “WreathLight” — using a wreath frame and two strings of Christmas lights. The total cost came out to $24. It’s a cheap and easy way of adding some soft lighting to your portraits. Read more…
Bits of Everything has a great tutorial on how you can make a large and beautiful picture collage for your wall on the cheap: the entire project costs less than $20. Mod Podge glue, which dries clear, is painted over the entire thing to give board a matte finish. This could definitely make for a fun and photographic weekend project.
If you have a GoPro or any other compact camera with a constantly exposed lens, you can protect the lens from scratches when it’s not in use by making a cheap DIY lens cap out of a ping pong ball and a rubber band.
Buying large frames for displaying your prints can be expensive. For those of you who are rich in time but short on money, Oh Happy Day has an awesome tutorial on how you can create nice-looking picture frames for just $5. The main ingredients are plexiglass, mat board, cardboard, and paper tape. Buying all the supplies will set you back around $50, but you should have enough material for around 10 frames.
Some photographers prefer using ordinary bags with padded inserts to carry their camera gear, both for aesthetic reason and to prevent theft. Instead of buying an insert, you can also make a custom one with some foam, fabric, and velcro. Abi over at vanilla & lace made one to turn her purse into a camera bag after finding that purse-style camera bags can cost up to $300. She also wrote up a helpful tutorial on how you can do the same.
Want a DSLR viewfinder but don’t want to pay big bucks for a professional one? Photojojo has a tutorial on how you can build your own DIY version using a lens from a pair of magnifying reading glasses and some plastic/foam board. It’ll definitely draw some weird looks but hey, it works!
Want to adorn a wall with a giant print using your own photography? Here’s a great video in which photographer Lee Morris shares how he shot, printed, and framed a massive 5-foot-wide panoramic print for less than $150 — super cheap compared to the $1,000+ you might pay to have it professionally done. After shooting multiple photos on a bridge in Rome, he merged the images using Photoshop, had a metallic print made by Bay Photo Labs, and then framed it using a large mirror he found at Bed Bath and Beyond. The final result is quite impressive!
Disclosure: Bay Photo Labs is a sponsor of PetaPixel