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The Ultimate Guide to DIY Photography (156 Best Tips)

Last updated: September 21, 2023 - 18 min read
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Photography is one of the most expensive hobbies you can do. At the least, you’ll need a camera and lens. Depending on what you want, they can cost upwards of $500.

On top of that, you might need to think about lighting and other devices.

DIY photography gives you the chance to cut down on your costs. In exchange, you get to try new stuff that you otherwise can’t afford.

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What Is DIY Photography?

Do It Yourself (DIY) anything can be fun and exciting. DIY photography is no different.

Some of these projects are so easy you can do them within 30 mins, some even less. But others will need a lot of research and planning. Some might also take a few tries.

DISCLAIMER: Some of these projects have the potential to damage your camera gear. Read up to know precisely what a project involves before you start any of the more challenging projects.
Don’t try to modify something you will miss or can’t afford to fix or replace.
If in doubt, please do not risk damage to your equipment. Especially if it is your livelihood, and you really can’t live without it.
The colored powder listed under the ‘fun’ heading is combustible. Please be safe, as this is paramount to any photographs you feel you might get.
Read everything you can about what environment you need to conduct your DIY project. Learn, create, experiment, and grow your passion. Start with the simpler things and those that interest and move you.

DIY Tips for the Camera

Convert Your DSLR into a Pinhole Camera

Pinhole photography is a great way to experiment with capturing images. It’s one of the oldest methods of photography, and it doesn’t even use a lens!

You only need a way to capture the light. Anything from coffee tins to matchboxes can capture light. It all happens with, you guessed it, a pinhole.

For this project, you will need a way to determine your exposure. Don’t worry. You can learn everything about it here.

DISCLAIMER: Some people argue that capturing pinhole images with your DSLR can burn your sensor after prolonged use. I have yet to find information about this, but beware.
I believe it is because the pinhole creates a very intense light directed at the center of your sensor, rather than being spread out using conventional lenses.

A DIY pinhole on a DSLR camera

Putting Old Lenses on a DSLR

The ‘Diana’ is a cheap, plastic film camera from the early 80s that create dreamy photos.

You can use a ring adapter for a ‘Diana’ lens and attach it to a DLSR to create quite impressive results.

You might need to know a little about lenses and how they work, as you will need to set the focal plane yourself. But, knowledge is power, no?

A hand holding up camera lens showing a city road with trees on the side

DIY Shutter Release

When doing long exposures, even the tiniest of movements can cause motion blur. The shutter release allows you to click the shutter by not touching the camera at all.

You can make a DIY shutter release from a hands-free set, which, no doubt, everyone has at least one knocking about.

A little bit of McGyvering, and you got yourself shutter release cable.

Flat lay of a DIY Shutter Release on a table                                                                                                           

Creating a DIY Satchel Camera Bag

Dedicated camera bags can be costly. The materials to make them aren’t particularly expensive, but companies can charge a large amount of money.

Better to save most of that money, and spend a little to make a bag yourself. If you already have a bag, you would like to use. Then you only need a few more materials.

A diy photography camera bag beside a person

DIY Photography Lighting

13 DIY Photography Lighting Ideas

If you’re planning to build a studio, buying monolights can cost a fortune.

Luckily for you, we have collected the best ten ideas you can use to make your DIY photography style. You will need to get creative to save yourself those big bucks.

Using a torchlight is a great place to start. You can make a diffuser from a ping-pong ball. You can easily fit a torch inside it, and you’re good to go. It’s perfect for macro photography and food shots.

Read the other twelve ideas here in our extensive article.Overhead shot of Diy photography lighting materials

Speedflash Modifiers

You probably already know about the many different kinds of lighting in professional studios. They may be costly, but all is not lost. You can create similar techniques for a fraction of the cost. All you need to start is a Speedlite.

A straightforward way of making a snoot (an intense beam of light), for example, is to use a Pringles can and some straws. It may look a bit weird, but it’s quite useful!A cup of straws

Cheap DIY Diffuser For Macro Photography

When you’re shooting extreme close-ups, you might find your flash is a little too bright.

But don’t worry. You can create a DIY diffuser cheaply and quickly to get that elusive soft lighting from your flash. All you need is a few materials from a hardware store if you don’t already own them.

A Diy diffuser on a dslr

DIY Softbox

The softboxes you see in studios can be quite expensive. So if you’re a cash-strapped photographer, it would almost be impossible to get the soft lighting you want without spending a lot of money.

Thankfully, we have a tutorial that teaches you how to make a DIY softbox for cheap. And the good news is that you probably have most of the items you need in your house.

DIY Ring Light

Lighting your subjects can be tricky. Even having all the lights in the world, you still need to know how to use them.

Your idea, concept, and creativity will determine these factors. You will need to think of the main light and fill to get a good, balanced exposure.

One of the simplest ways is to light the face directly. A ring light will do this well. We will tell you everything you need to make one.

A person holding a ring light in a dark room

DIY Photography Lens


Freelensing is the technique of decoupling of your lens from your camera body.

Once you detach the lens, you can move it around manually at various angles to get impressive bokeh.

Freelensing is a great way to isolate your subject, or helping a flat scene become more attractive. As you can imagine, this DIY photography idea has a steep learning curve.

You will need a lot of practice and patience. The outcome can be well worth it.

A DSLR camera

50mm Lens into Macro Lens

Usually, you need a unique lens for astrophotography. The sad news is that dedicated macro lenses can also be expensive.

But did you know that you can quickly turn the lens you have into a DIY macro lens?

All you need is a small tool called a ‘lens reversal ring,’ which allows you to turn and reattach the lens the other way around. Once you install it, you got yourself a powerful macro lens!

A Nikon DSLR camera

iPhone Macro Lens

An iPhone macro lens could be upwards of $60. Why spend that when it could be free? All you need is a point-and-shoot camera that you no longer use.

Recycle the lens and use it on your iPhone. You’ll get the same results without spending that cash. After all, recycling is much better than buying.

Recycle your old point-and-shoot to create a DIY macro lens for your iPhone

DIY Photography Filters

Make Your Own ND Filter

A neutral density or ND filter is designed to limit light from entering your lens and hitting your sensor. People often use it for time lapses or for doing long exposures in the daytime.

Unfortunately, high-quality ND filters can be quite expensive. But the good news is you can make one and save a lot of money!

A welding glass used as a DIY photography neutral density filter

Making a DIY Bokeh Filter

Bokeh is one of the trendiest styles in photography.

The meaning of the word comes from the Japanese word for blur. You see it a lot in nighttime shots with orbs of light in the background.

Making a filter to create this style is easy and straightforward. It is also cost-effective; all you will need is some cardboard and your imagination.

You can create any style you wish, from the most subtle, to the most outrageous.

heart shaped bokeh lights made with a diy photography filter

4 Creative DIY Filter Ideas

Filters are ideal for adding special effects to your images.

Creating your filters gives a creative spin to otherwise dull images. You can even combine them to create unique results that you won’t see anywhere else.

Netting over a dslr camera as a DIY photography filter

DIY Photography for Film Photographers

How to Make Your Own Photography Light Box

If you are one of those excellent photographers that either still shoots or dabbles in film photography, a lightbox is a necessary tool.

A lightbox will help you look at your negatives closely. It’s excellent for the pre-selection process before printing or scanning.

A person holding projector slides

DIY Darkroom

If you are heavy into your film photography, and always wanted your darkroom, then you need to build one.

You don’t need a lot of space, but you do need to be organised. That’s why we provided all the information for you to use.

Just make sure you ventilate your darkroom well to stop yourself going a little wacky from the chemicals.

A person in a photography darkroom

DIY Film Soaking

Filters through VSCO, Lightroom, or even Instagram are some of the most popular ways to add interest to your images.

What if I told you there is a natural way to do this with your film and not digital? It makes for more exciting photos.

Film soaking is placing your unused roll of film in a substance of your choosing. This material affects your film, creating fascinating effects.

Wine or coffee are favorites, but you will need to read the instructions in this article to make sense of it all.

Film soaking materials for DIY photography

Creative DIY Photography Ideas

How to Get Creative Photos With Paint in Water Technique

Water is a universal conduit. Use it to inject some creativity into your images.

Add paint to the mix, and you can create appealing backgrounds and settings for all sorts of photography. Be them studio or product photography.

It is fun and easy to do. We have all the tips you need to get started.

Still life of flowers with paint in water effect

Two Ways to Transfer a Printed Photograph to Wood

Knowing how to transfer digital images to wood has many benefits. You can give them away as great gifts or even use them to decorate your home.

We have two different ways to use this creative DIY photography process. You can use chopping boards or other wooden items to hang in your home.

A photo printed on wood

21 Ways to Turn Pictures Into Gifts 

Need a gift for someone’s birthday but have no money? Then perhaps it’s time to dig into your photo collection!

There are hundreds of things you can do with your images. You can try 21 of the best and simplest ways to turn your pictures into something exciting.

A polaroid camera

10 Creative DIY Uses for Your Digital Photos

If you’re looking for ways to show off your digital images, look no further. All you need is a few materials and a DIY photography mindset.

There are many ways you can use items to show off your work. Go ahead and try our ten awesome ideas that will help you start creating creative DIY stuff!

Printed photos on DIY photo frames

DIY Photography Stabilization

DIY L-Plate

Most tripods work well for landscapes but not portrait orientation. With a DIY L-plate, you can create to help you change the direction of your shots seamlessly.

You can create an L-plate from a few bits from a hardware store.

An L-plate will help you use the portrait orientation to create DIY photography images


If you have the engineering skills, then why not build your Steadicam? It’s a great way to create hyper-lapses.

Hyper-lapses are time-lapses where you move each time you capture an image. This system will keep your camera steady for the long exposures, and help keep the same perspective.

And of course, how can we forget all the things you can do with it when shooting video!

There are a few pieces that you will need, a few specific parts, but it should all cost under $200. Not bad for all the things you can do with this setup. 
A steadicam is a great choice for DIY photography hyper-lapses

DIY Bean Bag

Don’t have a tripod? Then perhaps it’s time to use some of your creativity to make a DIY bean bag!

A bean bag is small enough to set on tables or any stable surface. Plus, the lentils inside offers some cushioning for your camera.

It’s quite easy to make, so go ahead and read this article to get started!

A bean bag is a great DIY replacement for an expensive tripod

DIY Product Photography

Make Your Turntable

Have you ever seen 360° product images while shopping online? They’re images you can twist and turn the objects every which way so you can see all sides.

It’s pretty easy to do if you have a turntable, a camera, and the right editing software. The turntable is the part you might need to buy.

A man making a turntable for DIY photography

12 Cheap DIY Backgrounds for Food Photography

One photography area that benefits from backgrounds is food photography. They have a significant impact on the style and mood of your photos.

Each picture you take is going to need a specific look. Buying backgrounds can become expensive fast. So why not make your own?

Flat lay of cookies cooling on a wire beside a bowl of chocolate

12 Clever Tools and Tips For DIY Product Photography

There are many ways you can use DIY product ideas to get the most out of your photography. Some are so clever, you’ll wonder how you managed to get by without them.

Read this article to find out all the house items you can use for product photography!

A single flower on a white windowsill

How to Make Your Own DIY Photography Light Box

A lightbox is something you can make easily at home. Its purpose is to create white space around products that e-commerce websites require.

This box, coupled with a few lights, will help you create a beautiful product photography setup. And it won’t cost you an arm and a leg either.

A homemade lightbox set up for a product shoot

DIY For Food Photographers

15 Creative Food Photography Ideas: Go Beyond the Plate

If you’re looking for DIY inspiration, look no further. We have 15 of the best DIY food photography ideas you can use to inspire you.

Start thinking outside the flour box and make your images more creative.

Still life photo with a cracked egg and a chicken

How to Create Magical Still Life Photos With DIY Flour Clouds

Flour is a common ingredient of many types of food. Incorporating it into your food photography is a creative idea that adds a flair to any scene.

Flat lay food photo

DIY Photography Backdrops

7 Great Alternatives to a White Photo Background

A white background is great for many genres of photography. You can use it for anything from lifestyle, product, and portraiture.

But sometimes you need more than a white background. A little texture or color goes a long way. Creating something unique will make whatever you photograph pop and set it apart from everything else.

Flat lay conceptual still life

How To Make Awesome Hand Painted Photography Backgrounds

You can buy backdrops in various colors and textures. You can even make your own from your digital images.

The problem is they can be costly. These backgrounds might not give you the right texture or tone. Perhaps something reflective.

Handpainting your backgrounds is a great idea. It gives you full control over what you need. And did we mention you get to reuse it for different projects?

Flat lay conceptual still life

How to Make a DIY Wood Backdrop for Photos 

A DIY wooden photography background is a very versatile piece to have in your studio.

Wood’s texture adds dimension and interest to your images. Look around thrift stores or even inside your home, and you may just find the best background for photos!

A toy dragon on floorboards

DIY Photography Backdrop Stand

Do you need to hang your huge backdrop but don’t have a stand?

You don’t need to buy an expensive backdrop stand when you can build one… with PVC pipes! It’s not only sturdy, but it also disassembles quickly, which you’ll find helpful in location shoots.

Oh, and did we mention that our DIY backdrop stand is quite versatile? You can hand anything on it from seamless paper to blankets.

A diy photography backdrop stand

Other DIY Photography Tricks

How to Make a Cool DIY Photo Booth

The ease of using a photo booth means that all types of events and gatherings will get a kick out of this. It might even make you money.

If you are a wedding photographer and have a spare camera lying around, this is a great option. The guests will dig it and will recommend you highly.

You will need some DIY skills and maybe a workshop. But the end-product is going to be worth all your effort!

two young girls posing with masks in front of a colorful photo background

10 Ways To Get Your Lens Dirty (Creative and Colorful Photography Ideas)

If you are looking for simple, DIY projects you can use with your iPhone or Android, look no further. Thankfully, you don’t need to take apart things for this one.

Do you need a new filter? Then perhaps you should try placing your sunglasses in front of your camera. It’s a great way to create a new overlay to your image that hasn’t already been overused on Instagram.

Sunglasses flying in the air

DIY Smartphone Projector

Whether traveling or at home looking at your snaps, a projector is a great way to show off your recent iPhone images.

You get to see your images larger than on a computer or your smartphone. Projectors are expensive to buy, so why not make your own?

The materials you will need are things you might have lying around. But you can also buy a few parts for cheap at craft stores or your local hardware.

A DIY smartphone projector

15 Awesome Wedding Photo Booth Ideas

A wedding is one of the most memorable days for a lot of people. The problem is that some people think they need a lot of money to turn it into something exciting and fun.

With these wedding booth ideas, you can cut costs and give your guests a unique experience by having them take selfies with an instant camera!

A wedding photo booth idea

Try These 10 Easy (and Awesome!) DIY Photography Props Today!

We all need props to make our photography stand out. Making them yourself saves money, and allows you full control over what you create.

Each scene and shot will call for something unique. Start with our list of ten easy and excellent DIY photography props!

A person holding a lace balloon

12 Cool DIY Photography Tricks That Work

Here we have 12 of the best photography tricks you can use to make your work stand out. We’ll show you a lot from using reflective surfaces to using a simple prop such as a spray bottle to add interest to your scene.

DIY photography tricks allow you to save money while creating pro-quality results!

A watch on a smartphone

DIY Photography Studio

12 Creative DIY Photography Backdrop and Background Ideas

If you photograph in a studio, you might find that regularly buying backdrops can be expensive and space-consuming.

Oh, and did we mention that a lot of other photographers use the same backgrounds, too? Why not make your own?

With a piece of canvas and a few other materials, you can create unique backdrops.

A person hanging pink plates as a DiY photography background

10 Tips for Making a DIY Photo Studio

You might think that creating a photography studio is a lot of hard work and money. For black and white photography, it can be quite straightforward. All light sources are captured in the same way as there is no white balance to correct.

For color photography, it is a little more complicated. But, still manageable. You can use desk lamps and small lights as long as you can color correct the light hitting the scene later in post-production software.

Start by reading our post for the top ten DIY photography ideas.

Cool product photo set up on yellow background

Create Your Own Outdoor Portrait Photography Studio

An outdoor photography studio is a great idea to try if you don’t like staying in one place. It allows you to harness the sun and natural light, rather than going for expensive studio lighting options.

On the plus side, if you have something mobile, it means you can take your business anywhere.

A woman posing in a DIY outdoor studio

10 Simple Tips for Shooting DIY Newborn Photography at Home

DIY newborn photography is something you can do at home. You don’t need an expensive setup and spend a lot of money on props to achieve the same looks.

Baskets, boxes, and blankets are key here. With these three items, you can create great newborn photography setups anywhere, not just at home.

Overhead newborn portrait


With all these creative ideas, you’ll have almost everything you need to achieve professional shots at a fraction of the price.

Remember that even if you have the budget to buy new equipment, consider playing around with DIY photography projects. Doing such activities will help you understand more about photography.

So give DIY photography a spin and have fun!

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