Let’s face it, we photographers are always looking for new stuff to add to our bag of tricks.
As a studio photographer with almost 20 years experience, I have found myself repurposing a lot of stuff to use as photography tools in my photoshoots. I came to the conclusion that most of the stuff I have around the studio, or in my camera bag didn’t came from photography equipment stores, but rather from the supermarket, home improvement stores, or even one dollar stores.
Here is a small list of items that you can find easily in a store near you, which might help out a lot in your future photo projects:
1 – Cupcake nozzles
These nozzles are used by bakers to decorate cakes, and you can find them in many shapes and sizes. If you take them out of context, they make great light modifiers when used in front of a flashlight, allowing you to shape and control your light, when you want to do some light painting for example.
2 – Shower caps
This is something you can buy really cheap or even get for free in hotel rooms. I always have some laying around in my camera bag, and I use the white ones as light diffusers for flash or LED lights.
I also use the transparent ones as a rain cover for the camera body. It’s not something for heavy rainfall, but it can save your equipment in an emergency situation, and you can still see the LCD and camera buttons with it.
3 – LED light strips
These lights can be carried anywhere as they work with 3 AA batteries, and can be used in lots of different situations. I used them a lot as macro ring lights with the strip wrapped around my lens shade.
These lights are also great to create light bokeh backgrounds, just put them over a black surface and turn your lens out of focus.
4 – Multi-Purpose Opener
This tool is made to be used around the kitchen, but I have been using it for years in my studio for a lot of different purposes.
The main use I have for it is for that really frustrating task of trying to unscrew a stuck filter on the front of your lens. Even though there are specific clip plastic tools for that job that you can buy in photography stores, I always find myself breaking them or scratching some really expensive filter.
This multi-purpose opener has a rubberized inside and offers a much better grip, besides fitting every filter size you might have.
It is also able to open any metal or screw cap bottle if you happen to get thirsty, and, last but not least, it is a great tool to open stuck thumb screws like the one you find on tripods or light stands for example.
5 – Glow Stir Sticks
These glow sticks, besides being a must at any cocktail party, are also really fun to use as a light source for light painting. They can be found in different colors and sizes and can glow for a few hours, allowing you to make fun images like this next one.
6 – Shower Curtains
Shower curtains are usually made out of plastic or waterproofed fabric. They are really cheap and can be used as great accessories for light control.
I use white ones a lot as light diffusers, black ones as flags, and grey ones as backgrounds, but there is a lot that can be done with colorful ones for backgrounds or light color effects.
7 – Ball Bungee Ties
It’s amazing what some elastic cord and a plastic ball can do together. This simple, but really effective tool, is used most of the time to tie cables, but there are a lot more uses for it. I use them a lot to hold my flash triggers to the light stand.
8 – Spring Clamps
I lost count of how many of these I bought through the years. Every time I see them on sale anywhere, I just buy a few more.
These are a must have item in any photography studio, whether it is to make your model’s clothes fit a little better, to hold cables and power cords in place so I don’t trip on them, or simply to hold that reflector in that position that will provide the best reflection possible.
9 – Express Grill Pan
These pans made out aluminum foil are great if you want to make a barbecue in a rush. But they’re also great to use as gobos that you can use in front of your light source to create special light effects.
10 – Reusable Putty-Like Adhesive
This type of adhesive is a lifesaver for product and macro photographers that need to keep small objects in a specific position.
It is moldable, reusable, and doesn’t leave any residue when you remove it. I use it a lot in jewelry photography to keep things in place, and just remove it (clone it out) in post-production afterwards.
So, keep these tips in mind next time you are dragging your shopping cart down the supermarket aisles. Maybe you can find some great accessories for your photography!