Cheap Tricks

If you are a budding photographer, this post is for you.

If you are on a super tight budget but want family photos, this post is for you.

If you have a good camera, a good base knowledge of how to photoshop and just want some cheap tricks to do your own newborn, family or self photography….this post is for you.


Here are some of my top tips when it comes to saving a buck but still having great photos.

Tripod & Remote

For large group photos that I need to be in, I always use a tripod and remote.  In our Panama City Beach photo above, you can see it in my hand under LJ.  And in our big redneck family photo, you can barely see that my hand is holding something.  That would be the remote…it’s tiny.  I have a Canon 5D Mark II and use a wireless remote to snap the photos.  First line up everyone so that you know they are within frame, set the camera to remote setting, and click away.   The remotes are really inexpensive.  This remote is under $10.


Shooting newborns or headshots?  Invest the $20 in a reflector.  I have that exact one and it is amazing what a difference a little filtered light does for a photo.  The photo above is straight outta the camera of dear sweet Isla.  Isn’t she just the most yummy baby ever born?!  And those black edges is the rim of the reflector.  I set her up on a large ottoman in front of double windows and the reflector filters the light so that she has this glowing white background that doesn’t cast harsh shadows on her perfect bum.  I can simply clone the black out in photoshop when I do the rest of the post processing.

Chair + Boppy Combo

For all my boys, I didn’t hire a photographer to shoot their newborn photos.  I probably should have.   It’s not so fun to crouch on the ground with a fractured tailbone.  Thanks a lot Weston :)  But at the time, I was trying to save money.  Ok ok…that’s my mentality all the time.  And usually I am alone with the newborn…so I have to figure out how to shoot and hold up a blanket and be aware of safety all at the same time.  Usually I do a lot of flat surfaces – rug on the floor, in the middle of the bed, etc.  But there are other times when you want a cute sleeping photo and this is when I use a big armchair and a Boppy.  I simply put the Boppy in the chair pushed all the way in with the opening toward the back of the chair.  Then I drape the entire chair with a blanket and put the baby in the hole.  It doesn’t always give the smoothest results (like having an extra set of hands would) but it’s safe, it’s easy and I don’t need to turn into an octopus.

Wood + Textiles

Both wood and fabrics are really cheap and easy ways to make a great backdrop.  I try to use them a lot because they are readily available.  A barn is a great backdrop for family photos…let’s hope they wear clothes :)  You have seen me use fabrics as backdrops.  We even used an old pallet for Weston’s pictures above.  It was simply a large couch cushion draped with a blanket in front of a pallet.  And below, I used a scrap of fabric to swaddle LJ and laid him on plastic that looks like wood.  Yup…it’s a cheap vinyl backdrop made to look like wood.  You can get a wood backdrop for $12….not as expensive as refinishing your floors to get a cool weathered look!

White Roller Shade

Speaking of backgrounds…here is a simple and inexpensive way to create a plain white backdrop…hang a white roller shade.  You can use it in front of a window, lay it on the ground or drape it over a chair.  It makes that seamless backdrop that is perfect for the photobooth effect or for that disappearing white backdrop.  (Here is a tutorial on photoshopping that white backdrop).  I have also used white fabric before (a sheet is the hardest to work with but cheapest….white flannel fabric is the best – open your garage door half way, clamp it to the end, and drape on the ground).

Household Items & Accessories

I have literally used everything in my house for photoshoots….everything from baskets that normally hold magazines to blankets from our bed to chunky knit scarves.  Each item can be reimagined in a different way.  This is especially useful for newborn photoshoots.  And if you are into hats for newborn pictures, check out the annual Big Red Balloon Sale at Gymboree (I think it’s semi-annual) to get $1 hats or headbands.  Other things that work well are pashminas, sparkly accents, ribbons, feathers, and even rugs make great backdrops for your new squishiness.

Other cheap tricks and suggestions –

  • subscribe to Photoshop for their trial period…it’s free!
  • get an inexpensive 50mm lens
  • buy cheap cheesecloth at your local grocery store to make a newborn wrap
  • trade photos for products on etsy
  • use poster board for product photography
  • set up your camera for exposure and just have a friend come over to press the shutter!


There are a bazillion ways to save money when it comes to photography – I truly believe that everyone can afford a good photo!  What are your best suggestions for saving a buck or two and still being able to document these fleeting moments?  I’d love to hear them!


p.s.  TONIGHT at 9pm, my curated collection with Joss & Main goes live!  Ahh!  I hear that I am getting a sneak peek of everything together this afternoon – I will definitely share it as soon as I get it.  I would hate for y’all to miss you because supplies are limited!