Professional photography is a rewarding, passion-driven, and endlessly exciting line of work – but that doesn’t excuse it from its own fair share of challenges. From expensive gear to the hardships of self-marketing, there are any number of difficulties that may arise during a professional photographer’s day-to-day.
To help you navigate these difficulties (big or small) with ease, we scoured the internet for the top recommended pro photographer hacks. Whether it’s a quick trick to help you get dreamy RAW photographs or a business hack that helps you land more clients, the pro photographer hack you’ve been wishing for is hiding on the list below.
Use a tissue as a flash diffuser.
A flash diffuser is used to illuminate your subjects in a more flattering light than bare flash alone. It scatters the bright light of a flash to spray a softer glow over your image. If you don’t have a flash diffuser on hand, you can use a tissue or toilet paper to do the trick!
This tip was one of the most popular recommendations by users in professional photographer reddit communities.
Create business cards with QR codes.
This innovative self-marketing hack allows you to link people directly to your portfolio or website with a business card! You can create a custom QR code directly on Canva while building your business card.
Bring a change of clothes to all-day shoots.
One reddit user called back to an all day wedding job he’d booked. Thanks to bringing a change of clothes, he was able to head into the reception in a totally fresh set of clothing. You’ll be thanking yourself when you can kick off the second half of the day in something clean – especially during warm summer months!
While a habit for many pro photographers, shooting RAW is a tip that will save photographers who are new to the space! Navigate to your camera’s image quality settings and set your images to be captured in RAW format (menu -> image quality -> RAW). As opposed JPEG files, this format captures uncompressed versions of your images; this makes it exponentially easier to edit your photographs in post and allows you to preserve maximum quality in each of your images!
Keep spare change in your camera bag.
If you’ve ever tried to screw in a tripod mount (or unscrew one) with just your bare hands, you know how helpless it can feel. Keeping a few spare coins in your camera bag will equip you to change your tripod mounts with ease!
Have a personal pre-shoot checklist.
Creating a personal pre-shoot checklist can save you a world of trouble throughout your career. We recommend creating a customized checklist for different types of shoots. Your checklist may include a fully charged battery and a spare, a memory card in your camera (not left behind in the computer), certain lenses, light gear and a tripod.
Coming up with a list of your own allows you to account for the little things that make a big difference for you during a shoot (a snack, a bottle of water, a hair tie). Create your list and print out a few dozen copies to ensure you actually use it before leaving the house!
Use a string for a tripod.
This trick definitely piqued our interest; it’s a bit more complicated, but if the upvotes are any signifier of its value, we can’t leave it off the list!
If you ever find yourself heading to a location that doesn’t allow for tripod usage (or you don’t have the space to pack one), here’s what one reddit user suggests:
“Bring your tripod mounting screw, or get one that will fit the bottom of your camera and attach a piece of strong string/yarn/twine/chord or something. Allow the string to dangle to the floor and then stand on the end. Raise the camera till the string is taught and shoot your photos. It’ll never be quite as sturdy as a tripod, but it’s WAY more still than just hand held.”
Use glow-in-the-dark tape as labels.
Because camera gear is often so dark in color, traditional labeling systems can be hard to read when placed on equipment. Plus, when you’re in a hurry or pulling gear from a darker part of the set, trying to read labels can become a clunky part of your process.
To combat this, one reddit user suggested utilizing glow-in-the-dark tape. You can use glow-in-the-dark tape to signify whether a battery is charged or empty, to mark the legs of a tripod when shooting astrophotography, or to prep lenses for quick changes.
Keep plastic shower caps for light rain gear.
Heading to a hotel any time soon? Make the most of their complimentary shower caps. They’re well fit to protect your gear from light rain and, of course, cheap as can be. You can order a stash of your own for around $7 on Amazon.
Use cigarette rolling paper for lens cleaning.
It can be tricky to gage which materials are safe to clean your lens with, and winging it with miscellaneous cloth can pose a huge risk of damage. If you ever need to clean your lens but don’t have your cleaning cloth on hand, pop into a convenient store or gas station for cigarette rolling papers. They’re lint-free and won’t leave behind the residue that paper towels, tissues, or toilet paper will.
Plus, remember our tissue diffuser trick from up above? Rolling paper can have the same effect.
Fog the lens with your breath.
Out and about and want to change up the aesthetic of your photograph? A number of reddit users suggested fogging up the lens with your breath. It fades quickly, but allows you to rattle off a shot or two with a hazy effect; plus, you’re equipped with a free and unlimited number of tries!
Use stockings, a plastic bag, or cling wrap as lens filters.
Tips on sneaking your way to dreamy photo results were abundant in the photographer hacks we found online. Three of the most popular recommendations included wrapping your lens with either a stocking, a plastic bag, or cling wrap. Each of these nearly-free accessories will add a unique, dreamy haze to your photographs – and they’re easy to take off when you’re ready to go back to regular shooting!
Extra tip: Rub Vaseline onto the plastic bag or cling wrap to haze the edges of your photo even more dramatically.
Carry lenses in a bottle bag.
If you’re not quite ready to invest in camera travel bags that cost hundreds of dollars (or hardly have the gear to fill it with), start with low-cost bottle holders. These bottle bags are a perfect way to give additional protection to your lenses while still carrying them in a backpack or sling. They also allow for minimal carrying if you’re only operating with one or two lenses!
Use your laptop screen as a DIY backdrop.
If you’re shooting product photography and want to spice up your backdrops without breaking the bank, this trick is worth a try.
Pull up a visual that would make for an exciting backdrop: it can be florals, waves, a clear sky, or anything in between – experiment, experiment, experiment! Once selected, place a mirror on your keyboard facing straight up, and angle your screen slightly down toward the mirror. Then, place the product you’re shooting on the mirror.
Play with angles that capture the item and the background without capturing beyond the edges of the mirror.
Use foam boards as light reflectors.
White foam boards can serve as effective in-a-pinch light reflectors. Swing into a craft store like Michael’s, Staples, or Dollar Tree and grab one for less than $8.
Buy tile samples from a local hardware store.
If you need to add a clean and luxurious feel to your product photos, tile samples can be a life saver. Visit your local hardware store and buy two slabs of tile; you should be able to source this for less than $15.
Back at home, arrange these tiles in your shooting space to mimic floor meeting wall (one piece laying flat, and one piece as a backsplash). Place your product on this make-shift stage, and shoot!
This arrangement also allows you to take gorgeous top-down photos.
Attach a phone mount to your DSLR.
Marketing your photography business on social media relies heavily on video content, which can be difficult to capture while also taking the photos you were booked for. That’s why we love this phone mount hack!
This ULANZI phone mount allows you to record BTS videos from your phone without interrupting your shooting flow. It’s the perfect accessory for easily creating Scene v. Shot videos, BTS videos, and day-in-the-life montages. Watch your follower count blossom as you start incorporating more reels with hardly any additional lift!
Use a rewards card for business expenses.
If you’re an established professional photographer, chances are you’re already utilizing this life hack (we hope!); but if you’re still in the beginning stages of your career, this tip can truly change your life.
Opening a credit card that offers rewards in exchange for money spent can help you rack up tens of thousands of dollars in travel points and money back. As your business expenses grow, putting them all on a highly rewarding credit card can help you make the most of large expenditures – even the expenditures that are paid right back to you by clients!