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Possibly The Best DIY Beauty Dish There Is

By Kishore Sawh on December 11th 2014


DIY in the world of photography is oh-so-attractive, especially for beginners, but not exclusive to them, because photo gear can be so damn pricey. Sometimes, it’s difficult to measure the monetary ROI for a gear purchase because each piece is sort of a part in an ensemble, and may go through various periods of use or paid engagements. It’s even harder if you’re learning and not really getting paid as yet, so DIY becomes an attractive way to cut out unnecessary expenses whilst dabbling with a new piece.

[REWIND: Rapid Build, Low Cost, DIY 2 Sided Reflector]

Sadly, most DIY project are, how to put this delicately….rubbish. The difficulty of a DIY project is also not indicative of how good or useful it is either, as some of the absolute simplest and cheapest efforts produce some of the bet results. For good examples of this check out this DIY diffuser panel and this DIY reflector.


Todd Owyoung has his focus on shooting musicians and admits to heavy use of beauty dishes, which give off a nice broad and diffused, as well as directional light. This look doesn’t often come cheap, however, so Todd has created what he has dubbed ‘The Chinatown Special’ – a DIY beauty dish that should cost no more than $20 (plus flash), and it looks like the best DIY beauty dish I’ve ever seen.


It should be said here that this is not a project that you can get away with using scissors, glue, and tape for, and it does require the use of some more heavy duty tools which you may not have. It also should be noted that this isn’t a 10 minute hack job – but the rewards seem worth the effort. What you’ll end up with is a beauty dish that you probably wouldn’t mind using with client because the quality of light is great, but it also looks good, and not like it was built by a kindergarten class for the visually impaired.

Watch the video below, and for more details on the make-up and breakdown of materials and procedure check here, which also will give some example shots taken using the build set-up.

While you’re at it, check out more of Todd’s work here on his site.

Sources: The Phoblographer,

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Andreas Weiss

    Looks pretty cool … when I am planning a little studio corner in my house this will be one thing to do. :-) Great idea!

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  2. Jason Boa

    I really dig these kind off articles – this one looks particularily professional.

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  3. Basit Zargar

    Awesome DIY

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  4. aaron febbo

    this thing is legit !!!

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  5. Nick Viton

    You know what I want to see a good DIY for? Camera case padded divider inserts. Why are they so expensive? It’s just nylon covered foam. The divider sets for Pelicans are pricey and even knock-off ones are expensive.
    Or even if there was some partitioning kit you could buy that could be configured in various dimensions to convert any case/bag into a camera case, that would be cool…

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  6. Vince Arredondo

    Really nice! The bad part of this, is that I’m not as crafty as this job requires.

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  7. Jesse Yuen

    I built one of these recently, my stainless steel bowl (literally from china-town) was a bit too thick for a hand-held drill to get through. Overall the results were very nice and I’m quite happy with it! for >$50

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  8. Kurk Rouse

    One of very few DIY projects that i would actually try out

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  9. J D

    Awesome. A nice winter project for my down time.

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  10. Daniel Thullen

    This dish looks totally professional. Seems simple enough that I may make an attempt in the near future. The sample photos on their web site look great.

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  11. Nick Viton

    I’ve seen this video too. As crafty as I am, I don’t have the patience for DIY. I admit to having an eBay dish and it actually works quite well.

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  12. Steven Pellegrino

    I’ve seen this video before and am seriously considering making one of these. All of the other DIY beauty dish solutions, while inexpensive, look cheap and I feel that while your clients aren’t paying you for how your gear looks, you should look as professional as possible. This really is the best of both worlds if you’re willing to put forth the effort.

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