16 Pro Photographers Share 16 Tricks and Hacks With Cheap Accessories
As photographers, we all develop so many little tricks and techniques to help us to create unique images in any situation. One of our amazing photographers and fearless leaders here at SLR Lounge, Trevor Dayley, thought it would make for a great article to have some of our professional photographer friends share a little accessory that costs less than $30 which helps them to create unique images. I couldn’t have agreed more.
Enjoy the article and please feel free to share with friends and on Social Media.
1. JoAnne Marino of Imagine Photography
I love to use these tiny battery-powered lights as a GOBO in front of my lens. They add beautiful color and interesting artifacts to the image. I simply put them right in front of the hood and move them until I like the results. Best part? They come in a bunch of different colors and are super inexpensive!
2. Nicole Chan of Nicole Chan Photography
An uber cheap, kickass accessory that has turbo-boosted my creativity is a monopod for my Speedlight! It allows my assistant (who does not have Go Go Gadget arms) to secure my flash off to the side during first dances or speeches for directional light without her arm falling off from muscle strain and/or exhaustion. For portraits, I sometimes position it overhead to either overpower the sun or during night portraits when no light is available.
3. Leaha & Jeff Bourgeois of Popography
The Sephora double-sided mirror has given us a new way to make dynamic images for our clients. It is the perfect size and can fit into your pocket or a small insert on your bag. We love that it is flat and almost seamless with a very thing black plastic cover. We can use the mirror or the magnifying mirror depending on what we are going for. It is easy to open, shut and get creative with such a small and powerful tool. We use it for mirrored reflections by putting the mirror flush against the bottom of our lens and moving the mirror until we get the desired effect. We also fold the mirror to a half way open position and can get a really cool effect by pulling in subjects and objects in the room into the frame to tell a better and more interesting story.
4. Neil Van Niekerk of Photography by Neil van Niekerk
I use a piece of black foam as a truly inexpensive flash modifier to flag my on-camera flash to give me lighting indoors that truly look nothing like on-camera flash.The piece of foam, which you can buy at art stores, is cut the sheet into smaller pieces. This piece of black foam, which I have dubbed the Black Foamie Thing (BFT), is held in position by two hair bands, and the BFT is usually placed on the under-side of the flash-head.
5. Jon Lemon of JC Lemon Photography
I use plain old Sticky Tack to arrange pesky rings that won’t stack on their own or need help getting to a specific stack to show off their character.
6. Ashley Fisher of Ashley Fisher Photography
We often have to make our own magic when it comes to wedding photography, and hanging the dress is no different. We can hang the dress on textured walls, huge windows, or anywhere else we want with this Brushed Nickel Large Command Hook. Just remember to get it down when you’re done (or pick up a few extras if you’re forgetful like me)! And always keep a few extra mounting refill strips in your bag. The hooks support approximately 5 pounds, so really heavy dresses need some extra support, although we’ve used it quickly for those without a problem.
7. Chad DiBlasio of DiBlasio Photography
One of my favorites is a 6″ prism from Amazon! You can do so much with it but I generally will hold it against the front edges of the lens to add a “glowy” or dreamy look or to reflect an image or color back into my frame. I try not to overuse it, but it definitely makes its way into a lot of my sessions at least for a few shots!
8. Cass Bradley of BlueSky by Cass Bradley
Pretty umbrellas! I carry a collection of inexpensive umbrellas with me to all weddings. (the one in the image below was $22) For the obvious reason: a way to still be able to take gorgeous images of the couple/wedding party when rain strikes on a wedding day. But also as both a ‘prop’ during full/direct sun shooting. Or, by having an assistant hold it above a couple to act as a diffuser.
9. Phillip Van Nostrand of Phillip Van Nostrand Photography
My favorite accessory for $30 or less is the Yongnuo wireless flash triggers. These are triggers that work with Canon or Nikon, have a range of 300 ft, and have always worked perfectly for me. Or you can get a $400 pocket wizard trigger kit. The only downside is not being able to remotely adjust flash from your transceiver. I use these at weddings all the time as a lovely backlight during the first dance (I’ll give the flash to an assistant to hold, or put it on a table or stand facing the dance floor. I also like to use them out on the street from some drama.
10. Trevor Dayley of Trevor Dayley Photography
One piece of gear that has come in handy on occasion has been the Ultrapod ($12). It’s a small table top tripod with a velcro strap. I don’t sit my camera on it but rather use it to attach my Speedlites to poles, tree branches, etc. I especially love using them when I travel for destination weddings and don’t haul my light stands with me. For example, this wedding shot in Jamaica was done with one of my flashes attached to the Ultrapod and strapped to a tree branch pointed towards the couple. They are super lightweight and compact which makes them perfect for traveling.
11. Shannon Cronin of Shannon Cronin Photography
My favorite accessory to shoot with on a wedding day is the wedding dress! It’s definitely not under $30 but technically, it’s free for me to use. I photograph all details on the wedding dress to keep the images consistent and pretty, and it’s a perfectly neutral, clutter free background to let the details shine!
12. Lear Miller of Lear Miller Photography
My pick comes in at about 15 bucks at your local Home Depot or Lowes. Insulation foam board also known as SilveRboard, It comes in a verity of sizes but I love the the bigger sizes like 4×6.
Believe it or not I prefer the white backside rather than the silver for just a nice amount of fill light, at first glance you wouldn’t think it would do much but it helps a ton, to create a nice natural look with more dynamic range. in this image the board was held right over the camera as close to the subject as possible without being in frame.
13. Ning Wong of Ning Wong Photography
We used one of my second shooter’s e-cigarettes to create the smoke effect around the ring. Simply blow smoke onto your ring shot to create this effect on your ring shot – it adds a little more dimension and depth to your image! While we don’t condone smoking, these are very popular items nowadays, and if you don’t have one, perhaps you’ll see a guest with an e-cigarette.
14. Tanya Smith of Tanya Smith Photo
I use two champagne glasses held up in front of my lens. I use this trick often because there’s usually always a glass or two wherever I am so I don’t even have to carry it in my bag. A water bottle can even work. Just something to help add interest to a boring background, or distract away from a cluttered background.
15. Alicia Damico of Pure Emotions Photography
Children, much like pets, have a short attention span so we are always looking for creative ways to grab their attention. This awesome R2-D2 light spinner is a fun way for us to regain the child’s interest when we need just a few more shots or to gain the trust of a more apprehensive child in the beginning of the shoot. It lights up, spins and makes fun noises which also helps us to get some unique expressions and the parents always think we’re geniuses when we save a shoot with this little invention. Plus if I’m being honest it’s just as fun for us adults in the room! Check out this video to see how I use it while holding the camera.
16. Pye Jirsa of Lin and Jirsa Photography
I love using all sorts of little GOBOs and accessories to make my images look different. One of my favorite little accessories is just a small spray bottle filled with a bit of water that I use to spray the front element of the lens with just a bit of mist. The mist creates wonderful bokeh and light effects which can really add a lot of interest to an image. The first shot was during a wedding portrait session when I sprayed a bit too much water onto the lens and ended up with a “happy accident”. But the second image is one of my favorite uses for this effect, when I am dealing with a dull sky and want to add interest and excitement into an image.