Photography Hacks

101 Photography Hacks, Tips, & Tricks

One of the best things about photography is how easy it is to get creative, and the opportunities are endless. Buying equipment to produce specific shots can get expensive, but luckily there are tons of cheap and easy DIY hacks to help.

To get you started, this article covers over 100+ different DIY tricks, tips, and hacks you can use to up your photography game.

Read on or use the links below to “jump” to the section you’d like to check out:

DIY Photography Lighting Hacks & Tricks

1. Make a Cardboard Light Stencil

DIY Camera Trick

Image via Fstoppers

This quick hack uses materials you probably already have laying around at home: a cardboard box, print out shape, glue, Xacto knife, and colored wax paper. Pick your shape, cut it out, and start snapping some cool shots.

2. Use Glow Sticks For Long Exposure

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Image via JENerationDIY

All you need for this hack is a few glow sticks, which you can usually pick up at any store

for $1, a model, and a dark room!

3. Use Steel Wool and Fire for Long Exposure

DIY Camera Trick

Image via PeterMcKinnon

For a more challenging and bigger long exposure shot, using steel wool and fire can result in jaw-dropping photos. Be careful though, this hack can be a bit dangerous, so be sure to use an open area and protective gloves if you want to attempt these shots.

4. Create a Makeshift Softbox Using a Shower CurtainDIY Camera Hack 27

Image via COOPH

This trick is a great option for a DIY soft light. All you need is a shower curtain, which you probably already have or can easily grab at the store, something to hang the curtain, a bright light.

5. Make Custom Bokeh Shapes

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Image via How About Orange

This hack is super simple for those wanting to explore the world of Bokeh. Pick your shape, connect your DIY tube to your lens with a low aperture setting, and have fun shooting.

Pro Tip: Work on adjusting your focus and lens to get different styles and Bokeh effects.

6. Create a Reflective Card Using Aluminum Foil & Cardboard

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Image via DIYProjects

Grab a piece of cardboard you probably have laying around and wrap it evenly in tin foil. The easiest DIY reflector in under 5 minutes!

7. Create a Beauty Dish Using an Aluminum Roasting Pan


Image via DIY Photography

Another simple lighting trick: grab an aluminum turkey-roasting pan, a lambency diffuser (you can even DIY one with this trick), and a colored lid for the diffuser. A few short steps and you’ll be on your way to perfectly lit model shots!

8. Create a DIY Light Table Using Cardboard

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A great prop for product photos. Just grab a cardboard box, some tape, and start putting together this super cool light table.


10 Tips to SELL Your Used Camera Gear FAST

Have some used camera gear you'd like to get rid of? If so, check out this free PDF with 10 useful tips for selling your gear quickly!

DIY Flash Diffusers

9. Coffee Filter Light Diffuser

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Image via Sixth Bloom

Here’s for all the coffee drinkers out there! Simply grab an extra filter and a rubber band to make this flash diffuser. It’s so easy you can even do it before you’ve had your daily caffeine intake.

10. Use a balloon for flash diffusion

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Image via Digital Trends

Low on coffee filters? No worries, a white balloon works just as well. Grab your balloon, blow it up, and hold it in front of your pop-up flash for this quick flash diffusion trick.

11. Create a Light Snoot Using a Pringles CanPhotography Hack0 39

Image via Story Blend

This trick might give you an excuse to finish an entire can of Pringles in one sitting, but it’s also super easy for getting more focused lighting in your shots. Just place the can over the flash, and you’re good to go.

12. Build a DIY Flash Diffuser Using a Film Container

Image via Lomography

This hack makes a quick flash diffuser while giving you a great way to repurpose your film containers. Just cut the film container to fit your pop-up flash, and you’ll be ready to start shooting.

13. Bounce Your Flash Using a Business Card

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Image via DIY Photography

This trick is great for a quick way to bounce your flash. Just attach your business card to your pop-up flash, and you’ll be amazed at the difference in lighting.

14. Build a Ring Flash

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Image via Flickr

This hack requires a bit more craftsmanship, but gives some great results. Using a plastic bowl, some foil, and your camera’s pop-up flash, follow the steps and you’ll be ready to snap shots with this flash ring.

15. Use a Paper Plate as a Beauty Dish

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Image via DIY Photography

All you need is a paper bowl that you probably can find in your kitchen. It won’t achieve the exact same look as a beauty dish, but it’ll certainly work as a quick DIY hack to modify your lighting.

16. Create a Flash Diffuser Using a Milk Carton

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Image via Techradar

Got milk? Seriously, that’s pretty much the only thing you’ll need to make this flash diffuser. All you have to do is cut out the milk jug handle and trim it to the size of your flash!

17. Build a DIY Reflector Using PVC

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Image via Flickr

If you have extra PVC pipe, this is a cool hack to try. Attach your flash to the PVC pipe and watch as it bounces off the reflector to help diffuse the light.

18. Create a Flash Grid

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Image via Strobist

This can be done easily with a piece of honeycomb cardboard and a rubber band. Look around any packages or boxes you’ve gotten recently, and you’ll probably be able to pull this hack off without spending any money.

19. Create a Flash Bounce

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Image via Instructables

Just grab some cardboard and a cheap mirror, and you’ve got a super easy DIY bounce flash.

20. Create a DIY Flash Diffuser Using Airline Barf Bags

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Image via Digital Photography School

If you are the travelling type, you may have this trick laying around in your unpacked suitcases. Slip an airline barf bag (or any white bag) over your flash for an instant diffuser.

21. Use a Cigarette Pack as a Flash Diffuser

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Image via Instructables

If you have an empty box of cigarettes laying around (or if smoking isn’t your thing, any box around the same size) slip it over your flash and open the top for quick diffusion.

22. Velcro and Foam Flash Booster

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Image via TipsDIY

This hack allows you to use foam and velcro to focus your flash to areas you directly want to highlight in your photos. It’s cheap and easy to make!

DIY Backdrop Ideas

23. Build Your Own Lightbox Using Poster Board

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Image via Techradar

So easy! Just tape a sheet of paper over a well-lit window and place your subject in front. There’s no hassle to get some quality product shots, so just be sure to adjust your Exposure Compensation accordingly.

24. Use Wallpaper as a Backdrop

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Image via MrsBeachBride

A super simple way to get a great backdrop. Just find a wall with cool paper and start snapping!

25. Fake a Backdrop Using Your Laptop

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Image via Photography Juice

Pressed for time to get some product pictures or maybe just not sure what to use as a background? No worries, just pull up an image of your choosing on your laptop and start snapping.

26. Build a Lightbox Using Cardboard

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Image via Maeling Designs

This trick may take a bit of time to make, but it’s totally worth it. Lightboxes can be expensive, but if you have a box, some tape, and tissue paper, you can make one yourself. Just follow the steps above, and you’ll be ready to experiment with the lighting of your new box in no time!

27. Create a Portable Seamless White Background

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Image via Fstoppers

This trick is great for getting the perfect seamless background in your product pictures. Simply grab some poster board, sweep the board, and hold it up using two clamps. Seamless and painless!

28. Create a Collapsible Light Box

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Image via Instructables

For those looking to save space, this collapsible DIY lightbox may be the better option. All you need is some foam core and an exacto knife to get started.

29. Add Bokeh Using Tinfoil

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Image via COOPH

A super quick way to create silver bokeh using an item most likely in your kitchen drawers right now. Add a mirror under the item you’re shooting, and you’ll be ready to test out your newest bokeh creation.

30. Create a Textured Background Using a Cloth

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Image via Fstoppers

Using a cloth is a super easy way to add some texture to your background. This is great for product pictures when you want something a little more interesting than the plain white background, and using the sweep technique will keep the seamless look.

31. Create backdrops using your TV

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Image via Grafdom

Similar to using your computer screen, this trick allows you to have a bigger backdrop for your photo.

32. Try a black tile for your product photography

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Image via Expert Photography

Try using a black backdrop with a black tile underneath your product for a crisp image with an interesting reflection. It’ll add to any simple product picture without being too distracting.

33. Use trees or bushes for a backdrop

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Image via DIY Joy

Have your model stand in front of trees or bushes to create an immersive nature photo.

Camera Lens Hacks

34. Use a Magnifying Glass for Macro Photography

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Image via Digital Photography School

Thinking about trying macrophotography, but don’t have a lens for it yet? Try it out with a magnifying glass to get those up close shots. You can even leave the magnifying glass in the frame for a unique picture

35. Remove Your Lens for a Macro Effect

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Image via Improve Photography

This hack is pretty neat, and super easy to test out. All you have to do to shoot in macro is take off your lens and hold it in front of the camera. This only works in manual mode, and using a tripod will help keep the images sharp.

36. Use a Beer Cozy to Protect Your Lenses

DIY Camera Trick

Image via Digital Photography School

Need a quick and easy way to protect your lenses while travelling or doing a shoot? Slide them in a beer cozy, and they’ll be good to go.

37. Use a Wine Rack to Store Your LensesWine Rack Lens Storage

Image via Petapixel

If you are looking to organize all of the lenses you have laying around, this hack is perfect for you. Any wine rack will work, and you can store multiple lenses on it.

38. Use Pantry Shelves to Store Lenses

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Image via DIY Photography

Another simple way to store your lenses safely and efficiently, just use pantry shelves. This is great if you have a lot to store and you’re trying to save space!

39. Wrist Rubber Band to Prevent Zoom Creep

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Image via Lifehacker

Avoid the annoying problem of your camera lens moving due to gravity by using a wristband to prevent zoom creep.

40. Create Colored Lens Filters Using Markers

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Image via My23skidoo

This DIY hack is easy and tons of fun. All you need is paper, scissors, plastic and string. Simply cut out the plastic shape and get creative by adding a design with markers.

41. Build a Macro Lens for Your Phone

DIY Camera Trick

Image via DHMakerBus

This hack is pretty easy, and will allow for macrophotography on your phone. All you need is an old laser pointer, a hairpin, and some tape. Just grab the focusing lens out of the laser pointer, use the hairpin to hold the lens, and attach it with tape.

42. Use a Plastic Cup for Macro Photography

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Image via Petapixel

Another trick for easily exploring the world of macrophotography, and you probably have all of the materials you need already. Just grab some plastic cups from the kitchen, and tape one to your lens. This also works as a way to add soft light to your subject.

43. Build a DIY Tilt Lens

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Image via Maciekpp

These instructions will teach you how to DIY your own tilt lens, so you can work with tilt-lens photography to capture some awesome pictures.

44. Use a Coffee Cup Sleeve as a Lens Hood

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Image via DIY How To

Another use for your morning cup of joe. Just reuse the coffee sleeve from your cup to create a quick lens hood.

45. Create a Macro Lens Using a Toilet Paper Roll

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Image via COOPH

You can try macrophotography by attaching an empty toilet paper roll to your lens and camera. Super simple with great results.

46. Create a Lens Filter Using Your Sunglasses

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Image via COOPH

Use your sunglasses for a quick lens filter. Just hold them up to your lens and start shooting!

47. Create a Lens Filter Using Colored Plastic Bags

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Image via COOPH

Place a few colored plastic bags around your lens for an easy hack to get the colored lens filter. This trick also adds a bit of a soft light effect around the photo’s edges!

48. Use Drinking Glasses as a Lens Filter

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Image via Wolfeye

You probably have tons of glasses in your kitchen cabinets, so give them another use by grabbing one and trying it out as a lens filter for a cool effect.

49. Create a Lens Filter Using Markers & Plastic

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Image via Olivier Schmidt

This crafty hack adds soft light and color to your shots easily. Just place the plastic over your lens, use a marker for your desired color, and start snapping those shots.

50. Use Reading Glasses for Macro Photography

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Image via GadgetHacks

If you have a pair of reading glasses lying around, or you can buy a cheap pair at any store, you can use one of the lenses over your camera lens for instant macrophotography.

Cool Photography Effects

51. Window Blinds Effect

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Image via List AKA

This is an easy way to create a window blind effect if you don’t actually have window blinds. Just use a piece of paper, cut “blinds” into the piece, and hold it up to the light to create the desired effect.

52. Multi Person Illusion

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Image via 5-minute Crafts

Create the illusion of multiple people using only one model by utilizing the panorama feature on an iPhone. Just start on one side, have your model run to the next spot once the shot has moved past them, and you’ll have a multiple person picture.

53. Use Cloth to Achieve a Soft-Focus EffectPhotography Hack0 15

Image via Artfido

Another quick and easy way to create a soft focus, just wrap a piece of cloth around your lens to achieve the desired effect.

54. Use a Smartphone to Create a Reflection Effect

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Image via My Modern Met

All you need for this hack is your smartphone! Place it at the base of your camera lens, and your images will have a reflection effect to create fantastical issues.

55. Add a Film Burn Effect Using a MatchDIY Camera Hack 41

Image via Bored Panda

This simple trick will create the illusion of film burn on your images. Just light a match and hold it in front of your lens while shooting.

56. Use a Flashlight to Add a Lens FlareDIY Camera Hack 43

Image via Peter McKinnon

By bouncing the light of a small flashlight off your lens, you’ll create an easy lens flare effect on your images. You can even try this with the flashlight on your phone, so you don’t have to worry about carrying around extra equipment.

57. Create a “Haze Effect” Using a Sandwich Bag

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Image via Petapixel

Create a simple hazy look for your photos using a plastic sandwich bag. Slide the bag around the edges of your camera lens, and you’ll achieve this effect easily.

58. Create a Soft Focus Lens Using Clear Plastic & Vaseline

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Image via Free People

Using a piece of clear plastic and vaseline, you can create a soft focus lens that allows you to get creative with the design. Spread vaseline onto your plastic and use in front of your lens while shooting. The more vaseline in one area, the more opaque the outcome will be, so get creative with the different effects this can make!

59. Create a Lens Flare Using a CD

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Image via Bored Panda

You can create a lens flare using a CD to reflect the light back into your images at different angles. For best results, don’t forget to remove your lens hood before trying this out.

60. Create a “Grid Effect” Using a Tea Strainer

You can create grid shadows using an old tea strainer. Just hold the strainer at different levels of light in front of your subject to create this shadow effect.

61. DIY Soft-Focus Filter With Pantyhose

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Image via Giga

Using pantyhose, black or nude colors are recommended, you can achieve a soft-focus filter by attaching the pantyhose to your lens with a rubber band.

62. Use a Plastic Bag to Achieve a Softbox Effect

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Image via Bored Panda

You probably have tons of plastic grocery bags lying around your house, so make use of them by trying out this quick hack. Tie a bag by it’s handles and simply hold it in front of your flash to achieve an easy soft-box effect.

63. Create a Bokeh Effect Using Battery Powered Lights

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Image via SLR Lounge

DIY this Bokeh effect by using battery powered string lights. The lights are lightweight and small enough to travel with you on shoots, plus their flexibility can give you endless possibilities for pictures.

64. Use Fishing Wire to Create a Lens Flare

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Image via Expert Photography

By attaching fishing wire to your lens, you’ll be able to create a lens flare in your photos. The lines won’t actually show up, and you’ll be able to see the effect created by the light hitting the wire and spreading out across the image.

DIY Camera Rigs

65. String Tripod

DIY String Tripod

Image via Wix

This trick helps eliminate camera shake and is way easier to work with if you don’t want to carry around a bulky tripod. Using a bolt, string, and a washer, you can DIY this rig in a matter of minutes. Just tie a long piece of string to the bolt on one end and the washer on the other, and attach the bolt to the bottom of your camera where you would typically screw in a tripod mount.

Whenever you’re ready to start shooting, simply step on the washer and pull the camera up to create tension.

66. Make a Macro Photography Lighting Rig for Compact Cameras

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Image via Wildlife Gadget Man

This trick requires some handy work, but is definitely worth the effort. Using two LED desk lamps and following a few steps, you’ll have a lighting rig for your macro photography ready to go.

67. Make your Gorilla Pod Magnetic

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Image via Petapixel

This trick can make your already handy Gorillapod even more useful. Using magnets that fit inside the feet of your Gorillapod, carefully drill a hole and place the magnets inside. Although, it’s important to know this trick will void the warranty on your Gorillapod.

68. Build a Tripod Using a Hand Clamp

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Image via Lifehacker

This hack is quick and easy if you have the right tools to try it out. Just attach your camera with a screw to a hand clamp, and then use the hand clamp to position the camera wherever you’d like.

69. Make a Flexible Selfie Stick

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Image via Petapixel

This hack is great for creating a flexible selfie stick that works with cameras, not just smartphones. This can also act as a stand-in for any flexible tripod, so follow the steps and get super creative with your shots.

70. Use a Lamp as a Tripod

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Image via Improve Photography

Not as practical as some of the tricks on this list, this hack makes use of a lamp instead of a tripod. If you’re at a party and want to take a group picture while simultaneously impressing your guests, this is a cool hack to try. Simply remove the lampshade, and screw your camera where you’d typically place it on a tripod.

71. Use a Bag of Lentils as a Makeshift Tripoddiy camera hacks 7

Image via Digital Camera World

This hack is a crafty way to reduce camera shake, especially when using long lenses. With an old pair of jeans, a bag of lentils, and a little bit of sewing, you’ll have a pretty unique tool to use for camera stabilizing.

72. Create a Beanbag Tripod

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Image via Do It Yourself Divas

Similar to the hack above, this bean bag acts as a tripod and stabilizer for your camera. Your sewing skills don’t have to be perfect to get to work on this easy bean bag, and it’ll provide quick support for your camera during shoots.

73. Create a DIY Flash Mount Using a GPS Holder

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Image via DIY Photography

This hack is pretty simple to try, simply place your flash into a GPS holder and start shooting!

74. DIY Tripod Umbrella Holder

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Image via DIY Joy

Another quick hack for shooting in the rain! This is better for light rain, and it’ll protect you and your camera easily.

75. Stabilize Your Camera With a Tennis Ball

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Image via Lifehacker

Attach a tennis ball to the tripod area of your camera for an instant stabilizer. The weight of the tennis ball will reduce camera shake without getting too much in the way while shooting.

76. Makeshift Smartphone Tripod

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Image via Scoop Whoop

Make a quick and easy tripod for your smartphone to get the perfect Instagram shot. All you need is two binder clips and a small piece of cardboard.

77. Use Cardboard to Get Easy Overhead Shots

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Image via Hungry Panda

This trick works best with a smartphone and a remote clicker. Using a piece of cardboard and tape, you’ll be able to get the coolest overhead shots hands-free.

Cool Photography Props

78. Use a Smoke Emitter in the Background

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Image via Picture Correct

Using a smoke emitter can add some interesting vibes to your pictures. This prop can be used for all kinds of shoots, so feel free to get creative with it.

79. Try Out a Crystal Ball

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Image via Picture Correct

Using a crystal ball can give you really cool results pretty easily. This prop flips the scene, which adds something interesting for the viewer to look at.

80. Try Out a Sun Catcher

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Image via Picture Correct

If you want to add cool light effects to your photos, try out a sun catcher. This works similarly to a prism to break up the light rays, and it delivers awesome results.

81. DIY Bounce Wall

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Image via Expert Photography

Bounce your flash with this cheap DIY bounce wall. This hack is great for creating soft light to your photos.

82. Build a “Ring of Fire” Using Wire & SparklersDIY Camera Hack 17

Image via COOPH

Sparklers are an easy prop to add cool effects to your photos. This trick shows you how to create a “ring of fire” using sparklers, which gives the effect of fire without the danger.

83. Add Steam Using a Simple SteamerDIY Camera Hack 18

Image via Nicolesy Blog

This trick is great for any foodie or product photographer. Easily add steam to your pictures by using a simple steamer that’s out of the shot.

84. Use Tinsel as a Prop

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Image via Expert Photography

Grab some of your holiday tinsel and hold it up to your camera lens to reflect the light for some really cool effects.

85. Shoot Through a Window for Softer Light

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Image via Expert Photography

Use a window for portrait photography if you want softer light and possibly some texture from reflections!

86. Try Using Lace in Your Self-Portraits

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Image via Bored Panda

Use lace over your subject and camera to add a simple dreamy effect with interesting shadows.

87. Use a Hair Dryer to Add a Wind Effect to Hair

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Image via Bored Panda

Have your model, or an extra person, hold a hairdryer out of the shot to DIY the blown out hair look.

88. Use a Spray Bottle

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Image via SLR Lounge

All you need for this trick is a spray bottle and some water. Spray a bit of water into your shot, and let the light do the rest.

89. Create a Reflective Photo With a Mirror

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Image via Hungry Panda

Use a mirror with your model to create a unique shot. Just find an interesting scene for the mirror to reflect and snap your pictures.

90. Shoot Through an Object to Force Perspective

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Image via Petapixel

Using cylindrical items to shoot through can force a different perspective and has some seriously unique outcomes. By using a plant pot and dirt, this example makes it seem as if the photo was taken from the hole being dug.

91. Use Plexiglass to Capture Water Shots

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Image via Petapixel

By holding a big sheet of plexiglass in front of your camera, you can capture some intense water shots without worrying about damaging your equipment or obscuring the shot.

92. Use Colored Beads for Bokeh Effect

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Image via Get Fractals

Pick up some cheap plastic beaded necklaces for your next shoot, and you’ll be able to capture their colored reflections in your picture to mimic a Bokeh effect.

Everything Else

93. Use Paracord to Make a Wrist Strap

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Image via Digital Photography School

If you’re not a big fan of camera straps, or need something a bit smaller, you can use paracord as a wrist strap. It’s durable and easy to attach!

94.Use a PEZ Dispenser as a Hot Shoe Attachment for Kids

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Image via Improve Photography

Kids can be a tough subject to shoot, but adding something to your camera for them to focus on can be a huge help. A PEZ dispenser fits on your camera’s hot shoe, and as a bonus, you can give out the candy to kids when they’re behaving.

95. Use a Hands-Free Headset as a Camera Remotediy camera hacks 21

Image via Instructables

By following these simple steps, you can easily turn a $3 hands-free headset into a camera remote.

96. Protect Your Camera From the Rain Using a Ziploc Bag

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Image via Purple Summit

Shooting in the rain can pose some problems, but by using a Ziploc bag and gaffer tape, you can protect your camera during rainy shoots. Keep in mind this doesn’t completely waterproof your camera, however, so it’s best to use this trick in light rain instead of a downpour.

97. Create a Rain Guard Using a CD Spindle (Case)


Image via Lifehacker

Another way to protect your camera from rain is using a CD spindle and a plastic bag. Cut out the spindle to the size of your lens and attach it with gaffer tape. Protecting your camera during rainy shoots has never been easier.

98. Use a Fish Tank as an Underwater Housing Case

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Image via The Buff Nerds

This trick allows you to take cool underwater shots without ruining your camera. Using a fish tank and following the instructions will have you ready to take your shoots to the next level.

99. Remove Tourists From Your Photos

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Image via Bored Panda

Want to get beautiful scenic shots, but tourists keep getting in the way? Here’s a solution to the problem many travel photographers face every day. Just follow the steps, and you’ll have great shots with no tourists.

100. Create a Slider Using a Towel

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Image via Sheldon Evans

Using a towel can help you get a smooth slide in any video. Just put your towel on a flat surface, and place your camera on the towel. Once you start filming, drag the towel across the surface for a quick DIY slider.

101. Create a Timelapse Using an Egg Timer

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Image via TWiT Tech Podcast Network

This video shows you a simple way to use a GoPro and an egg timer to create a timelapse. Just follow the steps to try out this cool trick.

Now Get Out & Start Shooting!

With all of these DIY hacks to try, it’s time to get excited and start planning your next shoots. These new ideas are a sure way to get the creativity flowing, but it’s important to know you don’t have to DIY everything just to keep photography cheap.

Grid50 is here to make buying (and selling) camera gear easy and affordable, so if you need a new lens or rig for any of these projects, be sure to check out the Grid50 marketplace.

What are some of your favorite photography hacks? Let us know in the comments below!


10 Tips to SELL Your Used Camera Gear FAST

Have some used camera gear you'd like to get rid of? If so, check out this free PDF with 10 useful tips for selling your gear quickly!

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10 Tips to SELL Your Used Camera Gear FAST

Have some used camera gear you'd like to get rid of? If so, check out this free PDF with 10 useful tips for selling your gear quickly!