Necessity is the mother of invention, so they say, and being a cash-strapped new photographer begets a lot of necessity. So, what’s a shooter to do when he can’t afford to buy the equipment to get the light that he needs? Make it yourself. The DIY spirit has some distinct advantages for you.

You gain a greater understanding of what you’re making. It’s one thing to buy a beauty dish. It’s another thing to research the underlying principles behind how parabolic reflectors modify their light source, and then find something you can use to accomplish the same task. You see, when you are making your own equipment, you don’t think in terms of tools you do (or don’t!) have.

You think in terms of solving problems. If you’re not used to making your own equipment, utilizing your surroundings to accomplish your task, a curveball lighting challenge can really ruin your day. But, if you’re used to making your own stuff, you know how your lights will respond when modified with on-the-spot DIY contraptions. I usually go to shoots with a few sheets of coroplast, foamcore, some gaff tape, and a few other supplies, just in case the situation calls for me to whip up something on the fly.

Spend your money on rent, glass, food, or your girlfriend. This is the true, unspoken advantage of the DIY spirit. Making your equipment yourself lets you re-order the Great To-Do List in the Sky. You can put off that softbox purchase and get your ever patient loved one something nice, or you can get that tele zoom you’ve had your eye on for God knows how long.

Now, it seems like I focused mainly on light modifiers, but you can make TONS of the stuff you need day-in and day-out. Check out my blogroll and get cracking on some of the ideas discussed therein.


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