There’s no doubt about it, photography is an expensive hobby, but it’s one that can also be done on a limited budget. Sure, you won’t be using state-of-the-art equipment or the best quality materials, but you will be saving a ton of money and learning the nitty-gritty details of photography along the way. Here are 10 ways to save money on your photography:
- Use a Manual Camera
Getting a manual camera without all of the bells and whistles will save you money and teach you about the fundamentals of photography. Sure, a manual camera is trickier than an automatic one, but it forces you to understand the camera inside and out. Because manual is less forgiving than digital, you will have to learn from each exposure, study the film and correct your mistakes in another go around. Brand new and used manual SLR cameras can be found online, in camera or electronics stores and possibly lying around in your house.
- Print/Develop Pictures at Home
Printing and/or developing pictures at home can save you a bundle of money and time, while allowing you to have total control over your photographs and editing. If you are using a digital camera, then you will need to have a computer, a photo printer and photo paper to print pictures from your camera. Editing your own photos and using quality photo paper will give you a professional look, for a fraction of the cost to have someone develop it for you. To develop pictures on a manual camera, you can set up your own darkroom inside your house, using the equipment and materials noted in an instructional guide.
- Buy Used/Borrow Equipment
Buying used equipment and borrowing others’ materials will help cut costs and give you a chance to experiment with different types of camera equipment. Buying used equipment allows you to put the money you saved toward another purchase or endeavor. The same goes for borrowing others’ equipment, which allows you to play around with different lenses, lighting fixtures and accessories to improve your photography skills and find tools that work for you.
- Use Natural Light
Nothing says free like daylight. Using natural light to take photographs is easy, free and preferential in beginner photography. If you are using a manual camera, then you’ll want to get outdoor/daylight film, and make adjustments to both a manual and digital camera’s settings to avoid blown-out pictures from harsh sunlight. Also, try shooting early in the morning and late afternoon to get softer light and proper exposures.
- Make Your Own Light Diffuser/Reflector
Whether you are shooting outdoors or indoors, using a light diffuser or reflector may be necessary to get enough soft light, smooth shadows, reduced glare and even light distribution. There are multiple ways to diffuse and reflect your light source without purchasing any additional items. One way to diffuse light is to bounce the light source off the ceiling, wall or other materials that will absorb the reflected light, as well as diffuse the light by passing it through a translucent material, such as a piece of white paper or white cloth, being careful not to overheat the diffuser. For reflecting light, you can use poster boards, umbrellas and other reflective materials to find the perfect amount of light for your photographs.
- Make Your Own Portrait Backdrop
Professional looking portraits don’t require a store-bought backdrop – you can make your own for a fraction of the price. Whether you prefer solids, stripes or tie-dye, the colors and designs are completely up to you and the tone you want to create. The backdrop can be made of muslin, bed sheets or any type of fabric that fits your studio, budget and preferences.
- Download GIMP
GIMP, which stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program, is a free photo editing tool, primarily used for image retouching, resizing, cropping, combining multiple images and converting between different image formats. While it may not have all of the fancy features of Adobe Photoshop and other editing programs, it does have the basic necessities at no cost.
- Make Your Own Tripod
As you become more advanced in your photography and need a still surface to take pictures, a tripod may be the next step. Like many photography accessories, tripods can be costly but they are simple to make on your own. There are several ways to make a tripod, using some household items and other inexpensive objects, such as a plastic bottle, a nut, a bolt, two washers and a wing nut, as well as pieces of wood and crutches. Search online for instructions or guides to create a homemade tripod.
- Photograph at Free Locations
Renting a studio or paying to shoot at an exclusive location just may not be within your photography budget. That’s ok, because there are plenty of free places to take beautiful, professional photographs close to you. Try shooting at a local park, church or your backyard to get unique photos in comfortable setting.
- Put Your Photos Online
Not only does putting your photographs online save you money from printing or developing them yourself, but it also opens up the opportunity for you to make money by selling them to viewers. To top it off, it doesn’t cost a dime to start a blog, social media profile or online photo album to upload your photos and share them with the world.