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DIY Reflector For Photographers On A Budget


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DIY-reflector-graphic-600x2432 DIY Reflector For Photographers On A Budget Photography Tips

DIY Reflector For Photographers On A Budget

Why use a reflector?

Reflectors help photographers light their subjects, fill in harsh shadows, and add pleasing catchlights.

What types of reflectors can you buy?

Reflectors come in many shapes, colors and sizes. Some are small, while others are huge. Many are circular but others are rectangular or even triangular. You can get single surface or two-sided reflectors in white, gold, or silver. Some circular reflectors include 5-in-1: a white, a gold and a silver surface, plus a translucent to diffuse light and a black to block light. The latter two aren’t technically reflecting but diffusing or blocking. The opaque white side bounces a beautiful soft light, the silver adds light with more contrast, and the gold adds more warmth. 

Here are a few examples of reflectors.

Westcott 301 Photo Basics 40-Inch 5-in-1 Reflector

California Sunbounce Pro (4 x 6 Feet) Kit-Reflector Panel Kit with Frame and Carry Bag (Silver/White)

Lastolite LL LR3628 30-Inch TriGrip Reflector -Sunlite/SoftSilver

Interfit INT236 12-Inch Collapsible Reflector (Silver/White)

Westcott 1032 42-Inch 6-In-1 Reflector Kit (Black)

Pack of 5 18×24 1/8″ White Foam Core Backings

As you can see the cost varies tremendously. For the budget conscience, I recommend a 5-in-1 model. If that seems to expensive and you want to “try” using a reflector without much investment, you can do it yourself.

And if you don’t have a reflector with you or you wish you had more light on your subject, our Photoshop actions (such as Four Seasons, Fusion, Bag of Tricks and more) and Lightroom presets (Enlighten) have fill flash and selective lightening actions.

Want to Do It Yourself – Make Your Own DIY Reflector!

Supplies Needed:

1. White Foam Core Board – often found at a craft store like Michael’s Arts & Crafts or Hobby Lobby or you may find it at an office supply store or on Amazon. It is usually a few dollars a piece at most. 

2. Aluminum Foil – most people have this in a kitchen drawer, but if not, just go to a local grocery store and get a roll.

3. Glue – easy enough…  You can buy a spray adhesive or regular school-type glue such as Elmers.

DIY-reflector-600x4011 DIY Reflector For Photographers On A Budget Photography Tips


Step 1 – take the foil and crumple pieces of it.  Then flatten it back out.

Step 2 – apply glue to one side of the board. Then take the sheets of foil and press them down until you cover the entire surface. Important note – you want the dull side face-up.

Step 3 – you are done – that was easy!  Leave the other side white. Now you have a two sided reflector.  In a pinch you can just bring a white piece of foam core board with you.  But it is great to have the slightly stronger silver side in certain situations.

Cheap – easy – portable.  I like to have these with me in my car just in case. I have a few and they last a LONG time.  I also have some of the pricier reflectors but this is great in so many situations.  Plus, if you photograph kids, they are amused by it.  And you can even have them hold it for closeup shots, if they are old enough to keep it in the proper position for a short time.

Next Up… How to use a reflector! Go get your materials or order a reflector, and check back in two days to read more…


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  1. John H on August 30, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Many of the car windshield reflectors have a shiny side and a dark side. These also fold up into small sizes. The shiny sides make a nice reflector in a pinch. If you happen to have the fabric style they are actually two reflectors in one and can add a second dimension to the reflection.

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