8 Photography Tricks & Hacks Using Common Household Items

Are you looking to spice up your photography? You might want to hold off on buying the pricey camera accessory you’ve had your eye on. Objects that are found in virtually every household can be given new purpose as photographic tools with some creativity and a small bit of careful application. Listed here are some everyday items and how they can be used to enhance your images:

1. Belt

Have a belt sitting around your closet that you’ve either outgrown or overused? Give it a second life as a makeshift sling. While this stunt may be a bit nerve racking for the faint of heart, the movement of the belt swinging back and forth creates a smooth, steady arch. This can be used to to create motion blur at a slow shutter speed or add an interesting perspective to a videographer’s repertoire.

2. Cardboard Coffee Sleeve

Before you toss your used coffee cup into the recycling bin, consider whether it might be of any use to you. As it turns out, the cardboard sleeve customarily included with any hot beverage can double as an instant lens hood as shown in the video above by Peter McKinnon. Lens hoods are helpful for blocking out glare and adding an extra bit of protection to the delicate camera lens, so it never hurts to have one on hand in case of emergency.

lip balm DIY filter

3. Chapstick

Looking for an affordable, dreamy filter? The chapstick resting at the bottom of your purse or pocket can do the job! Lip balm of any sort will not harm a camera’s lens and can be easily applied to obscure details and throw surroundings out of focus. Removal is as simple as wiping down with a damp microfiber cloth.

4. Cellophane

If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of your lens making contact with a foreign object, cellophane or plastic wrap can also double as a filter. Simply crinkle it up and either hold it up to the lens by hand or secure it in place with a rubber band. Though the results aren’t as dramatic as the chapstick application, cellophane has an advantage in that you retain the ability to adjust the filter to fit into your composition.

5. Sunglasses

While shooting at a low aperture, a pair of sunglasses can a bit of unexpected color to a frame. Simply shoot through the glasses and focus into the distance. The shape of the glasses frame will blur, creating an effect similar to that created by placing a colored gel in front of the camera.

image obscured by knife blade

6. Kitchen Knife

Simply hold a knife blade close to camera’s lens. For obvious reasons, don’t press the knife into the camera. You may be surprised at the unique obscuring ability this miniature reflector can add to a scene.

7. Handheld Flashlight

Most people keep some sort of handheld flashlight on hand in case of emergencies or power outages. But, did you know that a flashlight can also be used to add a little bit of sparkle to an image? Simply point the light at the lens outside of the camera’s range of view. Instantly, you have an artificial solar flare in the palm of your hand. In addition, a flashlight can double as a small fill light in a pinch.

touch screen as reflective surface

8. Smartphone

Most people would be lost without their smartphones at hand. Now, you can use yours to enhance your photographs. Just like the flashlight, a phone can be used to create an artificial flare capable of being adjusted and controlled. A phone can also be used inside of an image as a faux reflective surface when positioned at the correct angle.

There you have it! While these objects may not stack up to the gear used by professionals, they’re certainly capable of getting the job done. Open your mind and take a second look around you. You may find that the most ordinary things are capable of producing extraordinary results.

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