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5 pointers about do-it-yourself projects

DIY, or do-it-yourself, is very popular in the photography community. Its popularity is due to two things, in my opinion. First is economic reasons. As you already know, photographic equipment can be very expensive. So it makes sense to shave off as much as possible whenever possible. The second reason is an artistic one. Photographers tend to be artists at heart and artists love to create. What better reason for a photographic DIY project than to combine the two?

While I love do-it-yourself projects I also need it to look professional. There's nothing more embarrassing than pulling out equipment that looks slapped together and shabby, no matter how practical it is. While not a factor in your own private studio, when you are working with clients presentation is important. Here are five pointers to keep in mind when working on your next DIY project;

  1. Do your research - The purpose of making your own equipment is to replicate the function of its more expensive counterpart. You will need to do two things first before making something yourself; simplify its function into its basic principle and analyze its various components. By understanding the function you will be able to relate it to other objects typically not used for that specific purpose. The same goes with the individual components of the equipment. Understanding these basic principles will give you an insight to how something else may be used in its place.

    The other thing you will need to do is see how others have solved the same issue. The internet is full of creative individuals who love to share their findings. Looking at what others have done will not only give you ideas, it will also inspire you to replicate or expand on their ideas.

  2. Think outside the box - While this one sounds cliche it is the basis for ingenuity. So is, "necessity is the mother of invention." These are two principles that go hand in hand with do-it-yourself-ers. The one thing you will notice about many DIY projects is the ingenuity that goes into accomplishing the desired effect.

  3. Repurpose items - Part of thinking outside the box is understanding that some items can be reused in ways never intended by the manufacturer. A great example are the many PCV inspired projects that use plumbing parts. Who would have thought that plumbing parts would make for some great photo equipment? As a matter of fact, a good hardware store will become one of your greatest allies.

  4. Utilize expertise - If at first you don't succeed try, try again. But if at first you don't succeed because you don't have the skill, ask someone to do it for you. Can't sew? Bring it to a seamstress. Can't weld? Ask a co-worker. Don't have a particular tool? Borrow it from family or friends. Even though its call do-it-yourself, resources are available if you can't do something yourself.

  5. Go the extra mile - Or rather, put the extra effort into your project. While you need something to be practical it doesn't have to be sloppy. By putting a little extra effort into construction you can have something that is visually appealing too, something that you won't be embarrassed to show to a client.

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A very large oak was uprooted by the wind and thrown across a stream. It fell among some Reeds, which it thus addressed: “I wonder how you, who are so light and weak, are not entirely crushed by these strong winds.” They replied, “You fight and contend with the wind, and consequently you are destroyed; while we on the contrary bend before the least breath of air, and therefore remain unbroken, and escape.” - Aesop's Fable