As photographers, we’re always looking for ways to take our creations to new and exciting places; But the tricks of the trade can add up fast when it comes to photography tools like lenses, filters, and rigging gear. To help you enter a new realm of photography on a $0 budget, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite locally sourced photography hacks. In other words: tricks that require nothing more than the world’s natural (and free) elements!
Ready to discover how you can add color, motion, and depth to your photographs, all with the help of the natural elements that surrounds you?
Whether you’re looking to add glamour, color, boldness, or sentimentality to your photographs, flowers will lead the way. Flowers can be used as small but powerful accents, natural frames, or focal points in portraiture. Their presence can be used as a way to tell a story, lead the eye, or complement another piece of your photograph.
One of our favorite ways to use flowers in a photograph is by placing the camera in a field of flowers and pointing up. Frame your subject in the gaps between the flowers to create a dynamic and naturally framed photograph, backdropped by blue skies.
We also love to see flowers used to create motion in photographs. Drop flower petals from above your subject just before taking the photograph to capture a romantic floral rainfall. Have your subject run with a bouquet in hand to create a timeless, nostalgic motion shot – one that seems to have a hidden tale beyond the frame.
Do some research to find out which flowers grow in your area and when; Then, plan a photoshoot you’ll never forget!
A little bit of water goes a long way when transforming a simple shot into a photograph you can’t take your eyes off of. Not only is water an exceptional way to add motion to your creations, but it’s also capable of creating fascinating reflections. You can use it to add depth to a portrait by spraying it on a sheet of plexiglass; Or add drama to a portrait by pouring it over your subject. Have one subject throw a glass of water at another and click away to catch before, during, and after shots. Play with the use of floatation in a body of water, whether it be an ocean, a lake, a bathtub or a sink.
With the help of underwater cameras, water can become an essential element in your final product; It can become the air your photograph breaths, one may say!
Leaves come in all shapes and sizes, making them the perfect tool when it comes to creating fresh and unique photographs. Placing leaves strategically in front of your light source is an incredible way to add dynamic shadows to your photography, as well.
If you’re hoping to add luscious greenery to your set, walk around a park or neighborhood for a wall of ivy – or any bundle of foliage. Tree species that include the word “weeping” in their names make for unique, naturally occurring sets as well. Head to the all-knowing internet and see if there are any weeping trees found at the parks in your neighborhood. Visit one during the glow of early morning hours, and you’re sure to find yourself with a mesmerizing lighting scheme.
The small and flexible nature of leaves makes them easy to manipulate to suit your photographic needs. They can be easily adhered to walls, attached to your subject, or pinned into clothing items. They can be arranged on the floor to create framing or leading lines, or thrown from above to create motion. Afterall, when the prop is free, you can really get creative with experimentation!
Things with Wings
Birds, bees, butterflies, dragonflies, ladybugs – if it has wings, it’s worth paying attention to with your camera. The winged wildlife that surrounds us on a daily basis can be an incredible and whimsical addition to a photograph – if you’re able to make it happen, that is!
While it’s undoubtedly possible to lure critters into your frame, it requires patience, stillness, and a bit of clever thinking. There are plenty of mountaintop locations where birds have become so familiar with humans that they’re willing to land right on your hand; And while we don’t recommend feeding wildlife – ever – we can’t say we’re too vehemently opposed to holding out an empty hand!
If you’re hoping to catch a monarch butterfly or bustle of bees, surrounding yourself with flowers is a good place to start! Like we said, it takes patience; But isn’t that what makes a great shot so rewarding?
When our predecessors created fire, they definitely didn’t do so with the hope of taking a pretty little picture – but that shouldn’t stop you! Fire adds color, flare, and a sense of mysticism to photographs, but our favorite thing about it is the range of its function.
Use it to char the edge of paper and create textured frames; Light a piece of clothing on fire; Photograph a paper boat burning in the still water of a bathroom sink; Capture fire and its reflection by using both fire and mirrors in your photograph; Toss a piece of salted driftwood into a fire and capture a magical collection of colors. The possibilities are endless when it comes to the sparkling presence of fire.