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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> What Every Photog Should Have: A List of Basic Props
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05/18/2006 09:00:50 PM · #1
First off, this list should be non-camera things, so lenses, diffusers, and fancy light setups are not what I'm looking for. Anything that could be rightly labeled "photographic equipment" is out.

What I am hoping to do is essentially work up a basic prop list, along with any aids that might be ultra cheap to make from scrap material with duct tape and a staple gun.

For instance, I've decided that I'm going to splurge and go buy some basic fabrics for homemade screens and backdrops, along with some el cheapo supplies for the frames. Do any particular fabrics work better than others? Is there anything else super cheap that belongs on the list of things every photog should have in a box?

I will edit this list as ideas are added to avoid scrolling in case someone else finds this helpful too.

My shopping/wish list thus far:

Light Diffusion:
sheer white fabric (probably a double layer on the frame)
frame material (wood, pvc, whatever is dirt cheap at Lowe's)
white umbrella
wax paper

Prop Fabrics/Backdrops:
white muslin
black felt
muslin w/ latex paint or RIT dye
white paper roll
green _____
blue _____

Reflective Surfaces:
white foam board
reflective windshield shade (aka "car reflectors")
poster board
hand mirror
cookie sheet

Other Handy Stuff:
thumb tacks
binder clips
duct or gaffer tape
cheap work lights
spray bottle
space blankets

Message edited by author 2006-05-19 11:13:14.
05/18/2006 09:06:10 PM · #2
i just bought a roll of white paper, and i have a black backdrop that i got on sale at a crafts store. the roll of white paper is around $25, but there is much more of it than fabric, and you can put a broomstick though it to hang it

05/18/2006 09:09:51 PM · #3
Muslin. Buy it cheap at Walmart or a fabric store and dye it with your choice of latex paint. You can also get creative with spounge painting on it.

I like latex paint better than fabric dyes, because they are less prone to fade and they are just more vivrant.

Message edited by author 2006-05-18 21:10:26.
05/18/2006 09:10:56 PM · #4
Instead of duct tape, maybe something called gaffer tape - it is a little different from duct tape in that the adhesive does not stick to the surface it is attached to nearly as badly. I am not speaking form personal experience, but I have read in more than a few places that it is perfect for photography for that reason. I keep meaning to pick up a roll.
05/18/2006 09:17:34 PM · #5
You can get a white paper roll for backgrounds on Amazon (via Adorama) 53" x 12 yards for 18.95 USD. I think that sounds a reasonable amount for a cheap price.

Since you're talking about studio prop stuff then things like stools, plexi-glass (for the floor), large baskets if you're shooting kids, stuffed toys, those porcelain columns, just general prop stuff.


05/18/2006 09:22:12 PM · #6
Originally posted by TrynityRose:

Since you're talking about studio prop stuff then things like stools, plexi-glass (for the floor), large baskets if you're shooting kids, stuffed toys, those porcelain columns, just general prop stuff.


Yeah, but that kind of stuff sounds rather expensive. Ideal for a studio, not so great for an apartment with limited storage space. :-(
05/18/2006 09:23:02 PM · #7
In a box I have various used curtains,sheers & drapes for backgrounds along with thumbtacks for hanging them.I am quite fond of my remnant of black felt since it doesnt cast any glare. I have also used the same curtains as "dressup" in a few portraits(trying to be creative). I have found all of them at second hand shops such as salvation army type places~super cheap~ like .25 a panel. I also have a box of food coloring,bath salts,various seashells sent to me by family, big piece of leftover fishtank BG(to use as a BG for macro shots)various collected feathers.
05/18/2006 09:28:44 PM · #8
Originally posted by smilebig4me1x:

In a box I have various used curtains,sheers & drapes for backgrounds along with thumbtacks for hanging them.I am quite fond of my remnant of black felt since it doesnt cast any glare. I have also used the same curtains as "dressup" in a few portraits(trying to be creative). I have found all of them at second hand shops such as salvation army type places~super cheap~ like .25 a panel. I also have a box of food coloring,bath salts,various seashells sent to me by family, big piece of leftover fishtank BG(to use as a BG for macro shots)various collected feathers.


Ohh, the thumb tacks are a good idea, and I already have a box in my desk. I was wondering how I was going to actually hang paper and fabric if necessary, and that solves the problem pretty well I think!
05/18/2006 09:51:59 PM · #9
A few pieces of white foam core board (get at Michaels or any art store) for highkey product type shots. They reflect well and produce a pretty good negative space.

4 pieces and you can form a light box kind of thing with a top, bottom, back and a side. Bounce the light off a side and/or top (inside) to get behind a subject that is placed in the middle.

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05/18/2006 09:59:27 PM · #10
Originally posted by awpollard:

A few pieces of white foam core board (get at Michaels or any art store) for highkey product type shots. They reflect well and produce a pretty good negative space. ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/373/thumb/224437.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/373/thumb/224437.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

I believe you mean high-contrast by using that image as an example.
05/18/2006 10:01:45 PM · #11
I keep a hard-shell, foam-lined cooler in my car, large enough to accommodate two DSLRs with lenses mounted...
05/18/2006 10:02:00 PM · #12
Forethought, vision, desire, guts....and the gear.
05/18/2006 10:11:42 PM · #13
Originally posted by karmabreeze:

Ohh, the thumb tacks are a good idea, and I already have a box in my desk. I was wondering how I was going to actually hang paper and fabric if necessary, and that solves the problem pretty well I think!

Try some "binder clips" of various sizes -- check under office supplies. You can grip along the edges of the cloth and hang by the handles, or use them to clamp the material to a pole or rod or something.

Message edited by author 2006-05-18 22:11:59.
05/18/2006 11:09:28 PM · #14
I can second the white foam-board as a handy dandy mini studio for objects. Easy to put together and easy to take apart and store! I've got some white muslin that I plan to dye with some of the RIT dye and a spray bottle. Also bought some cheap work lights at Home Depot (about $6 a pop), though I bought some that have metal bar guards on them--which of course tend to cast lined shadows if placed too close to any backdrop. So, in retrospect I'd buy some without the safety guard...I think I'm smart enough not to touch my work lights while they're on ;-)

I have the desire to test some of the really cheap pull down curtain thingies you can get at Wal-Mart...the kind that roll up again like maps in schoolrooms. But I'm not sure what material to use to dye/color them...but they're really cheap and would store well if we can solve the mystery of how to make them pretty.
05/18/2006 11:10:19 PM · #15
Oh!! And I would also like to pick up a relatively sheer white umbrella for lighting purposes and some car reflectors as well...very cheap stuff :-)
05/18/2006 11:11:54 PM · #16
Originally posted by ladyhawk22:

Oh!! And I would also like to pick up a relatively sheer white umbrella for lighting purposes and some car reflectors as well...very cheap stuff :-)


The car reflectors RAWK! I have two of them for that purpose. Mine are the wire-framed circular type.
05/18/2006 11:36:58 PM · #17
Something that occurred to me as well, as far as common household items go, are a hand mirror and a cookie sheet.
05/18/2006 11:38:08 PM · #18
Originally posted by ladyhawk22:

Oh!! And I would also like to pick up a relatively sheer white umbrella for lighting purposes and some car reflectors as well...very cheap stuff :-)


Oh, you mean the reflective windshield shades? Sorry, it took me awhile to realize what you were talking about! ;-)
05/18/2006 11:44:53 PM · #19
A garden spray bottle comes in handy.
05/18/2006 11:56:38 PM · #20
Woodies !!!!!!!!

(Hey Ken, could you please supply the required illustration here?)
05/19/2006 01:45:52 AM · #21
When I got my senior pictures done in high school, the photographer did something really neat to make a fancy looking floor. He had (first of all) a nice white background that draped the floor and extended for several feet. But (here's the kicker) in order to give the "floor" a black and white checkered look, he laid down squares of black construction paper in the appropriate pattern. And it looked awesome! Talk about dressing up a plain colored background...it was really neat. So that wouldn't be a terrible thing to have--something like that.
05/19/2006 02:51:05 AM · #22
Originally posted by ladyhawk22:

When I got my senior pictures done in high school, the photographer did something really neat to make a fancy looking floor. He had (first of all) a nice white background that draped the floor and extended for several feet. But (here's the kicker) in order to give the "floor" a black and white checkered look, he laid down squares of black construction paper in the appropriate pattern. And it looked awesome! Talk about dressing up a plain colored background...it was really neat. So that wouldn't be a terrible thing to have--something like that.


What works even better is a box of black linoleum tiles: they keep the paper flat on the floor, your subjects can walk on 'em without moving them, and they generally are easier to work with. We kept white ones around too.

R.
05/19/2006 04:21:32 AM · #23
pepper spray (bitch repellent)

lipstick (never know if you gonna bump into elvis)

comb, men usually tuck them in their sock,half sticking out,
thats long socks with shorts, and sandals, looks reel kewl.

spare change, to pay the candid model. (remember shoot first, ask later)
spare change to pay for parking fine.
spare change to buy that yummy deep fried dougnut that should sustain you for the whole day.

water!

Message edited by author 2006-05-19 09:25:03.
05/19/2006 04:38:25 AM · #24
a good eye
05/19/2006 10:54:37 AM · #25
bump!
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