Have fun and save some time and money with these 40 photography hacks!
Ever had a friend share a photography tip and you thought “Why didn’t I think of that?” Well, here are 23 new reasons you can say that! We’ve got photography hacks for weddings, portraits and even product photography! From creative DIY ideas to add fun effects to your images to best practices to use during a shoot, we asked our tribe of photographers for best tips. Some are wacky, some are mundane. Some might save your gear! Enjoy!
Photography Hacks and Tips for Weddings
Hack#1 – Label your gear!
It sounds silly but I label all my stuff with one of a Dymo lable machine. Memory cards, lens hoods, flashes, flash brackets. Everything gets a small label. If it’s something that comes in a bag, I tuck a business card with my contact in it. I’m terrible about setting something down and walking away. Now, if I leave something behind, it’s easy to identify as mine! I lost an extra memory card in the grass at a nature area. Some nice gentleman found it, googled my name and contacted me to return it! – Teresa M.
Hack #2 – Ask the tough questions.
Don’t be afraid to ask your bride and groom during a pre-wedding consult if there are family members who should NOT be posed together! It will clue you in on some undiscussed family drama and avoid awkward moments during the wedding day. I had a step-mom and aunt get in a shoving match during family formals one time. Now that questions ALWAYS gets asked. -Kylie C.
Hack #3 – Wooden Hangers.
Invest in some really pretty wooden hangers for “the dress” shot. The bride may have one, but don’t count on it! -Josie T.
Hack #4- Letting off steam.
Pack a steamer! You’ll be the hero when the bride or a bridesmaid needs one and doesn’t have it! – David R.
Hack #5 – Wedding munchies are a real thing.
Pack snacks. Even if a meal is part of your contract, it never hurts to have snacks just in case. Sometimes the timeline falls apart and you never get a chance to eat. I’ve also been known to share with the wedding party and avoid a case of hangry bridesmaid! – Kellie H.
Hack #6 – A little dab will do ya!
Keep a small tub of white Playdoh in your wedding kit. A little dab is perfect to hold rings or other items/props in place for detail shots. – Teresa M.
Hack #7 – Always have a backup plan.
I make two copies of my shot list and tuck the extra in a pocket in my camera bag. Or save one on your phone. During my first solo wedding, a big gust of wind literally ripped my list out of my hand and I couldn’t catch it. The day ended up okay but it was way more stressful than it needed to be. -Hayden R.
Hack #8 – Take it on home.
Take a picture on your phone of all the gear your brought in your car. Before you leave, take a quick glance at the picture so you know you have everything. -Lisa T.
Hack #9 – Shoot and share.
Take a few minutes to take some shots the venue, DJ, florist, caterer and bakery would love. Include their logo if you can. Your couple will like the images AND you can share them with other vendors for networking. I also have a “Vendors I’ve Worked With” page on my website that links to their sites that helps with SEO. -Deb B.
Hack #10 – Not to dull you but…
I carry pressed powder in my bag with a disposable sponge for women (and men) who get shiny. And I have a hair brush that I sanitize between uses. -Monnika H.Z.
Hack #11 – Easy enough.
My favorite wedding day photography hacks? Two words. Tide pens. – Beth B.
Hack #12 – Don’t drink and photograph.
This doesn’t really fall under the category of photography hacks but it is some good advice. The wedding photographer shouldn’t be drinking with wedding guests. You’re there to work, not get hammered on free booze. It’s completely unprofessional. Ben B.
Photography Hacks and Tips for Portrait Photographers
Hack #13 – In the bag.
White plastic grocery sacks are my favorite and cheapest of my photography hacks! They can be wrapped over your flash for a DIY diffuser or used as an emergency rain cover. One time the only place I could stand to get my shot was in this nasty puddle. I pulled two grocery sacks over my feet, waded into the nastiness and got my shot! No $200 shoes were harmed in the making of that wedding. -Brendan P.
Hack #14 – Just $1.
Save your money and skip the white reflectors. Foam board from a dollar store works just as good and you don’t have to hassle with folding it up. They are also easy to prop up, unlike the round ones that want to roll or slide. If you need a silver reflector, wrap it in aluminum foil. -Timmy P.
Hack #15 – In it for the chips.
A Pringles tube (can) makes a great snoot in studio for really directional lighting! – Edel C.
Hack #16 – So illuminating.
Sometimes I use the flashlight function on my phone to get “light leaks” in my lens when the sun isn’t cooperating. – Jessica B.
Hack #17 – White and bright!
Use a whiteboard (dry erase board) for mini sessions- have your client write their name on it (etc) and take a photo of them holding it as the first shot of their mini session. Make it easier to sort and load if you have a bunch in a row! – Anna P.
Hack #18 – Lice guards – EWWWW!
If you’re using a prop on the heads of multiple kids in a row and can’t sanitize it in between, use coffee filters. We use them in our preschool and kindergarten graduation caps! Tina T.
Hack #19 – Smartie pants.
I keep some Smarties and a few small bubbles in my car for those reluctant littles! I have yet to meet a toddler that can resist them. The best part about Smarties is that they don’t stain clothes, hands, lips or teeth. -Ellie R.
Hack #20 – Through the looking glass.
Fake a “through the window” shot in your studio or outside. All you need is an empty picture frame with clean glass. You can even make it rain with a spray bottle. -Joe F.
Hack #22 – McGyver it with gaffers tape.
My best photography hack is gaffers tape. I always have a few rolls on hand to fix any situation that comes up. Tape backgrounds down, tape a speedlight to a pole if you forget a mounting bracket, etc. I once used it to fix the hem of a groom’s pant leg before couples portraits. – Josie T.
Hack #23 – Look at the birdie!
Give kids something to look at on your camera. Buy one of those Shutter Huggers, make your own or use a Pez dispenser in your hot shoe. Anything to hold their attention. – Tina T.
Hack #24 – Easy as pie.
I learned this from a guy at a rodeo of all places! If you’re shooting a monopod or tripod and it keeps sinking into the ground, throw a pie tin under the feet. It distributes the weight…no more sinking. and no more gunk in your equipment feet. You’ll only laugh until you see how well it works! -Teresa M.
Hack #25 – Just checking my shots.
Store your posing ideas as images on your camera before a session. If you get stuck, you can quickly glance at them for inspiration! Kellie T.
Hack #26 – Be prepared.
I keep several blankets, hand warmers and stretchy gloves in my car for cold shoots. I also keep sunscreen, bug spray, lip balm and bandages and a few clear plastic umbrellas in my car in the summer. That way, I’m prepared for anything! Kellie T.
Hack #27 – Point the finger.
Invest in a pair of fingerless mittens or gloves with the flip top for cold weather shooting. You can keep your hands warm and when you don’t need to use your fingers, flip the flaps and keep them warm! Diana V.
DIY Photography Hacks
Hack #28 – Heavy measures.
I forgot my sandbags on the way to a baseball team shoot and the wind was definitely blowing. I stopped at a gas station and bought jugs of water. Instant light stand weights! How’s that for photography hacks?!? -Travis B.
Hack #29 – Flashes don’t bounce.
I cut a slit in black plastic Frisbees and slide them over the bare flash heads I use at weddings. That way, if a rowdy guest knocks over a flash, the disc hits the ground instead of the flash itself. Haven’t lost a flash since! – Peter K.
Hack #30 – Instant lens hood.
I never had my lens hood in my bag when I needed it. So now I just have a piece of black foam in the bottom of my bag with a small bit of gaffers tape. I can wrap it around the end of any lens for an instant lens hood. If I wreck it or lose it, it costs me about $.25 cents to replace. -Marianna W.
Hack #31 – Scrim scrim screeee
I use a white bedsheet clamped to a rolling coat rack as a scrim. I bought the sheet and the coat rack at a garage sale for $5. -Molly F.
Hack #32 – Take a rest.
Fill a large men’s athletic sock with dried rice or small dried beans. Tie off or sew up the end. Now you have a lens rest you can throw on the ground or over a window sill/car door to steady your shot. I keep one in my car for drive-by wildlife ops. Camera stores sell them but you can make your own for next to nothing! – Tyler E.
Hack #33 – A bright idea.
I used half of an empty rubbing alcohol bottle over my speedlight for a while. It gives you the same effect as a Magsphere or Gary Fong Lightsphere for pennies on the dollar. If you really like the effect, you can invest in a more professional modifier. If not, you’ve saved yourself some scratch! -Joe R.
Hack #34 – Patterns, patterns everywhere.
Look around your house for cool things to use as gobos (objects placed between your light and subject to create shadows). Kitchen utensils, fabrics with fringe, lace, lots of stuff you already own can throw really cool patterns. One of my favorites is a fly swatter. -Hayden R.
Product Photography Hacks
Hack #35 – Don’t remodel. Shop at the scrapbook store.
My kitchen has this really hideous Formica counter that I hate. So I bought a roll of paper that looks like barnwood and glued it to a piece of foam board. I have all new “counters” for food photography and didn’t have to live through an expensive remodel! -Stacy P.
Hack #36 – Bowl appetite!
Use a smaller bowl turned upside down in a larger bowl to add volume and structure to your image. And items that might otherwise sink rest on the top of the smaller bowl. It makes the pile look heaping and attractive! -Jordyn T.
Hack #37 – A wrinkle in time.
Take a large sheet of aluminum foil and crinkle it into a ball. Then smooth it out and tape it to the wall. Aim a flash at it for a bokeh wall! Use colored gels on your flash for a super cool and unique look. -Jordyn T.
Hack #38 – Monitor the situation.
One of my favorite photography hacks is using your laptop monitor as a background. Find a cool background, add in the product to the foreground and it’s instant awesomeness! And the monitor provides a subtle bit of backlighting, too. Actually, any monitor would work! – Stacy P.
Hack #39 – Free samples.
I collect old wallpaper or fabric sample books from interior design stores. They make great sweeps for small products and they don’t cost me a dime. -Bennett G.
Hack #40 – Set the scene first.
If I’m shooting food, I set my scene and get my lighting right first. Then I introduce the food. If everything else is ready when I add the food, it looks fresh and more appetizing. If you’re shooting baked goods that have a good shelf-life, it’s not as big of a deal. But if you’re shooting something hot or cold, it makes for better visuals! – Zac F.