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Tips & Tricks

16 Pro Photographers Share 16 Tricks and Hacks With Cheap Accessories

By Pye Jirsa on September 3rd 2015

Introduction

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

Follow Imagine Photography on their website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

30-collab-imagine-photographyI 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!

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2. Nicole Chan  of Nicole Chan Photography

Follow Nicole Chan Photography on her website, Facebook, and  Instagram.

Oben_ACM_1400_ACM_1400_4_Section_Aluminum_Monopod_1404761358000_687355An 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.

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3. Leaha & Jeff Bourgeois of Popography

Follow Popography on their  website, Facebook, and  Instagram.

SephoraMirrorThe 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.

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4. Neil Van Niekerk of Photography by Neil van Niekerk

FollowNeil van Niekerk on his  website, FacebookInstagram, G+, and Pinterest.

neilvanniekirk-1I 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.

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5. Jon Lemon of JC Lemon Photography

Follow Jon Lemon on his website, Facebook, and  Instagram.

sticky-tack

 

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.

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6. Ashley Fisher of Ashley Fisher Photography

FollowAshley Fisher on her website, FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 1.28.24 PMWe 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.

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7. Chad DiBlasio of DiBlasio Photography

Follow DiBlasio Photography on their  website, FacebookInstagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

prismOne 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!

 

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8. Cass Bradley of BlueSky by Cass Bradley

Follow BlueSky By Cass Bradley on her  website and  blog.

umbrellaPretty 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.  

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9. Phillip Van Nostrand of Phillip Van Nostrand Photography

Follow Phillip Van Nostrand on his  website, Facebook, and  Instagram.

yongnuoMy favorite accessory for $30 or less is the Yongnuo wireless flash triggersThese 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. 

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10. Trevor Dayley of Trevor Dayley Photography

Follow Trevor on his website, Facebook, and Instagram.

ultrapodOne 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.

Photos by: www.trevordayley.com

11. Shannon Cronin of Shannon Cronin Photography

Follow Shannon on her website, Facebook, and Instagram.

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!

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12. Lear Miller of Lear Miller Photography

Follow Lear on his website, Facebook, and Instagram.

lear-miller-photoMy 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.

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13. Ning Wong of Ning Wong Photography

Follow Ning on his website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

ego_electronic_cigarette_atomizer_ce4_5_1We 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.

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14. Tanya Smith of Tanya Smith Photo

Follow Tanya on her website, Facebook, and Instagram.

champagne-glassI 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.

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15. Alicia Damico of Pure Emotions Photography

Follow Alicia on her website and  Facebook.

star-wars-toyChildren, 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.

PureEmotionsPhotographyAlice

16. Pye Jirsa of Lin and Jirsa Photography

Follow Pye on the Lin and Jirsa website, Facebook, and Instagram.

spray-bottle
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.

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About

Founding Partner of Lin and Jirsa Photography and SLR Lounge.

Follow my updates on Facebook and my latest work on Instagram both under username @pyejirsa.

26 Comments

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  1. Jeremy May

    Love this article, good job !

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  2. Fisnik Islami

    amazing pictures but, i think there is to much topaz ,but nice pictures

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  3. David Blankenburg

    Thanks for some ideas I hadn’t thought of. I’ll use a few of these.

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  4. Pierre-Yves Roth

    Great ideas. will definetly use some of them!

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  5. Barry Simmons

    If you don’t want to carry a spray bottle, get a nasal spray bottle or pump sprayer. Smaller to carry and has a finer mist, especially the pump. Just ask anyone who has allergies, they probably have an old one in their recycling bin.

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  6. Sean Gannon

    Some insnae ideas, love them all. The water spray bottle is great and the champers glasses as they are always at hand. In a wedding situation, you don’t always remember all the things that you have in your bag. Great ideas!

    Sean

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  7. Corey Wright

    Brilliant! So simple, yet so effective. Thanks for sharing. I’m off to a hardware store :)

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  8. Brandon Ward

    It’s so cool to see effects happening in-camera and I second the compliments to Niel. His stuff is always fantastic.

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  9. Ralph Hightower

    +1 to the Lin and Jirsa Water Bottle!

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  10. Kurk Rouse

    I added just about all of these things to my amazon cart, I had one or two of them already, but I’ve been looking for ideas like this. Great article very helpful, thank you.

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  11. Paul Empson

    love the led ring bokeh detail..

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  12. William Emmett

    These are great suggestions for getting that “unique” shot. I’d have to really think about the spray bottle and the front element. Maybe try it with a clear glass filter, or UV over the element. In any event I’ll give it a try, along with some of the others.

    WE

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  13. Gabriel Rodriguez

    Cool article! Thank you Pye!

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  14. Brad Harberts

    I like the spray bottle idea. If I had an e-cig I think that would be pretty awesome to try too.

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  15. Feuza Reis

    Love this! great ideas indeed!

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  16. Michael Giordano

    I swear I saw the pic for number 5 before. I had to do a double take. I took a kind of similar one.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/14717703278/in/dateposted-public/

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  17. Sal Chan

    Thanks for sharing, Pye. : )

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  18. Chad DiBlasio

    Alicia’s video made me so happy I watched it.. 4 times haha! GREAT stuff guys!

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  19. Jason Marino

    Great stuff, Pye!

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  20. Tom Blair

    Like the Taxi photo

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  21. Dalibor Tomic

    I learn so much from Neil Van Niekerk

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  22. Daniel Thullen

    Some very interesting answers from you fellow photographers, Pye. I’ll borrow several of these ideas if you all don’t mind.

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    • Pye

      That’s what they are there for! Try these things out, get creative, and make them your own =)

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  23. Lauchlan Toal

    Awesome idea for an article, and tons of great tips here. I especially like the e-cigarette smoke machine and your spray-on bokeh. Very handy effects to have in a pinch.

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