So you don’t have any money or a-ny-thing to use for styling your photos or your home. So you give up. Give up beautiful photos or memories you could have, give up house which feels homey, give up your dreamy Insta career. NO! I have never spent any money on a special props only for photography purposes (are we already Instagram friends?). My home is super tiny, I am trying to live minimalistic lifestyle and don’t really have many things either. But remember one simple rule: everything you need you already have. Either in your creative mind or somewhere around you.
Everything is easier with money, that is the truth, but more then ever, especially on a tight budget, I realised how truthful saying “time is money” is. So if you don’t have even a one buck to invest, maybe you can invest a couple of minutes instead. And if you want to tell me that you have NO time to spend, well, just count those minutes you were wining about not having a-ny-thing to take a pictures of and use them wiser next time. Because here are five tips on how and where to get those yummy photogenic and Insta worth-it props totally for free.
And if photography with sustainable mindset is something you really want to learn more about, sign up to my newsletter! First is going out 1. September and it will be packed with photography tricks and tips! Read more about it here if you like!
But now to the topic! Welcome to a class “Styling on a zero budget 101” with my favourite hashtags!
People like to see things they know in a ways they are surprising, interesting or somehow new and beautiful. You don’t need anything fancy here. Don’t think about the fact that they are not new, clean, neat and such, noone wants to see that anymore. Great example is Fifi of Whimsy and Grey and her #mydirtysink. She photographs her dirty sink and dishes in most elegant way, telling the story and inspiring people. With a dirty sink!
And don’t let me start on mugs! We are all guilty of good mug shot (heh), very well known Instacliché. But with a bit of creativity and story telling, cups became some of my most popular shots ever with zero investment except my creativity and time.
If there is something you really like and speaks to you or represents what you do, don’t be afraid to use it several times in different setting or just make a series out of it. Maybe you are using your favourite cup every Sunday in a different room, with different outfit, or just a different angle. Maybe as Julia of Humphrey and Grace you use a cup as a centre piece and decorate what season gives you around it. Try to find your own voice and don’t worry too much.
Nature is there for everyone and so easy to access. Even when you live in the city, there is always little park, grassy area or some weeds growing around the road. And everyone has at least one plant at home, right? People love plants and taking care of them, plants make people happy and your photos interesting. If I am taking a portrait or some photo at home and feel like it is rather boring, something is missing or photo is too empty, I stick some plant into it! Just a tiny bit, to create nice atmosphere, contrast, frame the scene, etc.
And if you don’t have any plant at home, try to pick some leaves, ferns or other green anything on the way home from work. Simple fern places as a tattoo on my body is my most successful photo so far with over 3 thousand likes which is huge considering I had about 3 thousand followers back then! Add some leaves on your table setting, put simple branch in the vase! For more inspiration just check the hashtag #botanicalcreativity_ or #botanicalpickmeup and you will see what I mean 🙂
You might think I am going crazy here but #handsinframes can do magic for the mood of your photo and your engagement. I was surprised myself but photos with hand in it, even when only holding something, do always much better then the flatlays and photos without when it comes to likes and comments. I guess people need the human touch, literally, so they are more drawn to the photos with some parts of human body. Of course face would be even better but if you don’t feel comfortable to be a part of your photoshoot, hands will do.
I can already hear some of you screaming “but I don’t have a tripod”. I have solution for you too. First option is to have only one hand in the frame and shoot with the other. If you feel a bit more adventurous, you can set your phone on timer and hold it in your teeth. That way you can manage to stick both hand in elegant position into your shot. I also saw people taping the phone to the ceiling or the top from of the window. No excuses!
If you need some inspiration, have a look at my Pinterest board dedicated to hands and their positions.
Bottle from a wine or a beer becoming a vase, nice tea box becoming a treasure chest, egg shells are super photogenic. Think about the things you would usually throw away and maybe save them for rainy days. Or maybe you keep the ribbon which used to be a bag handles and use them next time, maybe you can use a maison jar as a fancy smoothie glass (haven’t we all?) or as a lantern filled with fairy lights.
Sometimes the simplest object you look at every day can become a million dollar shot! You know, that old spoon from your grandma, really used book or any book at all, stained chopping board. Those average bits with personality are perfect props for everyday photos.
I love to go through the free magazines, especially those from interior stores are usually gorgeous, and I look for inspiring or beautiful pictures. Sometimes there is a page with amazing texture or pattern you could use as a part of your styling, sometimes maybe interesting quote or nice portrait. Many places offer free postcards with amazing pictures, business cards are sometimes real gem too. I am not telling you to go around and beg or steal. I hate that myself! Just be more mindful about what is going through your hands and think twice before throwing it away.
Almost all of my flower photos which are usually the most successful are styled with foraged flowers from around the road, forrest, meadow, park, you name it, I was there. I even got myself tiny gardening scissors which I have in my pocket all the time, just in case I need to snap something on the way home or on my walks.
And if flowers or greenery are not what you do, there are plenty other options! Pebbles, feathers (which I am secretly hiding in my drawer because my boyfriend thinks they are full of germs), wood washed out of the ocean, shells and acorns, you name it! Remember when you were a child and everything picked up from the ground was so exciting? Find that child again!
And don’t worry that there is no more flowers now because the summer is over. There is something growing or blooming all year around and following and styling the seasons is great fun. If you feel like you are missing some seasonal inspiration or ideas, sign up for my newsletter. I will send you tons of seasonal tips, advice and inspiration for every month!
I am not talking about eatables because that is so obvious you figured it out long time ago. But if you didn’t, food is the easiest prop to get. We all have to eat, so there is no extra cost and it doesn’t take any space in your storage. You can take beautiful seasonal shots using food as a decoration. Autumn is all about pumpkins, lovely dark red apples, or you can bake pie and just pop it into the photograph.
Today I talked about PROPS but there is so much more you can do on a zero budget with a tiny effort to make your photos instantly better, more interesting or incredibly inspiring. Stay tuned for a second part which will be all about different tricks and techniques you can use to make your photos look amazing!
And as I mentioned, more detailed practical tips on photography can also arrive every month in your mailbox.