by guest contributor Bethany Cleg

Lowering cost on a shoot is something every photographer wants to do. Over the course of 2014 I picked up a few tricks to bring my cost down, while maintaining the quality of my work that I sold my clients on.

Personally I use some of these tips to keep the expenses for my clients down to stay competitive with my prices.

If you’re a photographer on a limited budget, you’ll want to lower the costs of your photoshoots without sacrificing the quality of your work in the process. There are a few ways to save money without worrying about a reduction in the quality of your images.

Some of these tips are obvious, but the best bang for your buck comes through combining as many money saving tips on one shoot as possible. The more you save on the production the more goes into your wallet.

Camera Equipment Savings

1. Renting Equipment

Instead of buying all the gadgets and lenses you’ll need for one photoshoot, consider renting the pieces that you absolutely need. This is a great way to save money if you know you’ll only need the gear for one specific photoshoot. If you live in Australia use this camera and video hire site, for USA bound photographers can link you to a local rental shop in your area.

I have had great luck with renting gear (knock on wood) and have yet to get out to a shoot and have gear malfunction or cause problems.

Extra tip: I try to find another photographer or videographer who need the same piece of gear and we coordinate our schedules and split the rental fee. If you can logistically pull this off, it’s a huge money saver.

2. Borrow the Equipment
Friends and family might be able to loan you the lens you need for a particular photoshoot. It can be helpful to borrow equipment before making purchases too. You’ll be able to test the performance and decide whether you really need it.

Extra tip: Be friends with as many photographers as possible. Especially photographers who shoot different stuff than you, chances are you will both have gear the other does not and can help each other out when needed.

3. Buy Used or Older Model Equipment
Used equipment can be purchased from photographers who are upgrading their gear. There might not be anything at all wrong with the equipment, and it’ll save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars on gear.

Extra tip: Along with tip #1 allot of camera rental sites sell their used gear for even lower than what you find on classifieds. I bought my backup camera a Canon 60D for a fraction of a fraction of the cost from the site I recommended above. And it is in perfect working order.

Research and Plan Ahead

4. Investigate the Venue
Before heading out on the day of your shoot, you should location scout best places to shoot and the ideal time for your outdoor shots depending on the effect you’re trying to achieve. The time of year can impact the lighting too. You might want to scout the location days before the shoot. It’ll save you time and money on the day of the shoot.

Extra Tips: Google maps 3d view is actually quite handy (If the location/venue is outdoor) I like to scope around a few blocks to see if there are any other cool locations I can sneak a few shots in.

5. Virtual Research
In some cases, the location of the shoot will be a venue for hire. Many times, the interior of the venue will be an unknown place. Many venues have the option to search their interior virtually through 3D tours. Check the location’s website for information on the space.

6. Borrow from Friends and Family
If you need a farm location, a barn or a beach locale, look to your family and friends. They might have or know a friend with the perfect location, and you’ll be able to stay with them while you’re working. Many people live in great locations, and you should ask around to save on accommoda-tions.

7. Mock-up the Photoshoot
Plan every detail of the shoot before the actual day, even if you can only do it mentally. It saves time and money when you know the photos and poses that you’d like to shoot ahead of time. But leave room and time for spontaneous shots too.

Shooting Creatively

8. Make Your Own Accessories
Instead of buying a filter that creates only one effect, you can create your own. Use a bit of petro-leum jelly around the edges of a filter to get a blurred photograph. The amount of blur depends on the amount of added jelly. It’s a great way to soften the features of models too.

9. Outdoor Light Tents
When you want to focus light on a small object like a flower or a plant, you can create your own light tent with clips and cardboard covered with a reflective surface. That way it’s portable so you can take it anywhere and set it up easily.

10. Hack Effects
Whether it’s bokeh or an ND effect, you can create photographs without spending a ton of money on filters and lenses. If you want custom bokeh, cut out stiff cardboard in the shape you want and tape it to the lens. In the case of ND effects simply buy welding glass and attach it cheaply.

Some of these tips for saving money require a little practice, but shouldn’t sacrifice quality of your work. They will be worth it when you save money on your next photoshoot.

 Bethany Cleg
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Bethany Cleg is a founder of Bethany Cleg Photography. She is an avid writer on all things photography. When she’s not writing or taking pictures you’ll find her at the lake with her family or binge watching Netflix.

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