When our studio was just getting started and money was tight, we had to get really creative. Talent aside, one of the reasons that photography studios charge what they do for sessions is the very expensive equipment they must have to make your session a success. Back in the day, my photographers would come to me and say, I need this filter for a shoot or we need a new backdrop set up because the only one we have is out on another shoot. I am going to share with you some of the crazy and creative things we did when money was tight.
Lets start with backdrops. A good portable backdrop set up can run into the hundreds even thousands of dollars depending on your tastes. PVC pipe can be your friend in these situations. Go to your local hardware store and look in the plumbing department. Everything you need is there. Draw out on a piece of paper the dimensions of your backdrop. Lets say you want a 10 foot wide backdrop. All you need is a 10 foot piece of PVC for the top bar, two 8 to 10 foot pieces for the sides, and two bases. For the bases, we used a base from an patio umbrella table. You will also need utility clips, also found at the hardware store to clip your backdrop cloth and you are ready to go. The back drop cloth is a breeze. The fabric will need to be a long bolt so go to a store that has fabric for sofas that are much longer bolts than regular fabric. Muslin or sheer fabrics work well. Always have utility tape on hand as a backup. All you really need to do is draw out what you want and the nice men at the hardware store can set you up. Amazing how creative they are.
On to homemade filters can be made from a variety of objects that can be found around the house and an inexpensive UV filter that can be bought at most photography shops for around $10.
To add fog to an image, you can smear a little bit of petroleum jelly on a UV filter. The layer should be very thin for the best effect. For different looks, the petroleum jelly can be spread on only the bottom of the filter, on the top, or anywhere that the photographer wants a little fog.
To add an artistic blur to an image, a little more petroleum jelly can be added to the filter. Smearing it on thick for works for very blurry images and a little thinner works for softer images.
Colored filters can be fun to play with to add a certain emotion to a photo. To add a little extra color to photographs, you can simply cover the camera lens with colored cellophane and secure it with a rubber band. For a less intense color, a piece of plastic wrap can be colored with permanent markers and attached to the lens.
Want that diffused look, a filter that will give aged skin a more airbrushed appearance. To create this filter, the you can cut a square of fabric from an old pair of pantyhose and stretch it across lens, securing it with a rubber band. The photographer may want to experiment with different hose colors for different looks.
Lastly, polarizing filters can be as simple as taking your sunglasses and putting them in front of your lens. This will do the same thing for your photograph as it does for your eyes.
Being from Myrtle Beach, aka The Redneck Riviera, rigging homemade photography equipment and accessories seems like second nature. I hope some of our tricks will help you beginners take some great new images.