Items from home or hardware store
If you don’t know how to get a shot, look for ideas around your home or in the aisles of hardware or craft stores. It’s always useful to have a ladder. “There might be overhead shots that you can’t get at your height,” Dorei says. She also likes the effect you can get with a toilet paper roll. “You flash a light through it, and it makes it look like there’s a spotlight on a person. It creates a vintage look.”
Another hack Dorei found early in her career was to shine flashlights through macrame sheets or knitted sheets to create dappled patterns on her subjects. When she needed to use a prism as a reflector, she found she had a perfume bottle that could do the job.
For product photos, you can make a DIY lightbox with a cardboard box or pieces of foam core. Just use white or black poster board inside to hide the seams and corners.
For a blur effect, instead of an expensive pro-mist filter, Ari found she could get a great photo with household items. “If you wrap plastic around your camera and use a hair tie or rubber band to hold it in place, you can get that same blur effect,” she says. “And if you want to push it even further, add lip gloss or Vaseline to the plastic.”
Tips for great DIY photos.
Preparation gives you the best chance at success, so plan as much as you can ahead of time.
Do your research.
If you take photos with or for other people, always ask them what resources they have so you know what you don’t need to get or make. If they want something specific that you need to get or make, be sure you test it on your own first.
“I draft out what I want to get and ask myself what I need for it,” says Dorei. “If I don’t have the equipment at home, I’ll test out different ways I can accomplish that photo so when I get on set, it goes as smoothly as possible.”
Study other people’s photos to discover exactly what you like. “Take some time looking at posing,” Pumphrey says, “because poses can make all the difference between loving or hating an image. Just start saving images where you like how the person looks in the frame. You can mimic posture more easily when you have a library to look at.”
Play with exposure.
Pumphrey adjusts exposure settings in camera. “It can make such a dramatic impact if you do it on the front end, especially if you like bright and airy photos. If you overexpose in the camera, you can get a crisper image than if you try to force it all at the end.”