[Strong Graphics] Big Ideas, Small Budget – How To Create Fun Conceptual Images On A Small Budget

Sep 7, 2014

Morgana Creely

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

[Strong Graphics] Big Ideas, Small Budget – How To Create Fun Conceptual Images On A Small Budget

Sep 7, 2014

Morgana Creely

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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Editor note. The post has some strong graphics in it which may not be to everyones taste. Proceed with caution.

Side Order

Photography can be an expensive passion; and none of us have the budget of a small European country although sometimes it does feel like we need it to create amazing images.  In this article I’d like to share some of my favourite conceptual images that were both fun and inexpensive to create.

Whilst I understand that my slightly dark and quirky style doesn’t suit everyone, you can take the basic ideas and techniques to apply to your own style.

For each concept I’ve given the price of the items I’ve used but keep in mind that you won’t have to buy everything every time for every shoot.  A little creativity goes a long way to keeping your costs down.

“Side Order”

Key ingredients:

  • a takeaway container: Free from my regular pizza place
  • Calamari, chips and gravy from the local fish and chips shop: $6.50
  • Plastic fingers: $2.50 (Post-Halloween sale)
  • soft drink: $0 (Had some in the fridge)

TOTAL: $9.00

This was the most delicious of the three shoots, but sadly none of the evidence remains to incriminate the guilty. :)

Shot in my kitchen, lit with one large softbox overhead.

“Swing”

Swing

For this image the four key ingredients were:

  • a white rope with a noose tied in the end: $6
  • a white picnic table: $50
  • a baby doll $35
  • a pen: Free (from a training course I attended).

TOTAL: $91.00/$6.00*

*Whilst these seems the most expensive of the three images, all I needed to buy for this shoot was the rope as I already had the doll, table and pen. So costs on the day was only $6.

Rather than trying to balance the doll in a noose hanging from the ceiling, I decided to shoot from above looking down. Once the doll is placed in position in the noose, I used the pen to stop the doll rolling to one side. The rope was stretched up the table, and weighted down on the floor so that the rope on the table was straight as if hanging, but not pulling the doll out of position.

BTS-MCreely02

The doll was lit from both sides with small gridded strip softboxes, and the camera mounted on a boom stand directly above to capture the final shot.  By playing with the lighting to get even coverage from both sides, I didn’t need to retouch the background later in post.

BTS-MCreely03

“Sweet tooth”

Sweettooth

 

Key ingredients:

  • a martini glass: $3
  • a bag of marshmallows: $3.50
  • Commercial fake blood: $7.50
  • Police Line Don’t Cross tape $? (Christmas Present)
  • a smoke machine: $35
  • a wisdom tooth: Free

TOTAL: $41.50/$14.00*

*I already had the smoke machine and the wisdom tooth. So costs on the day was only $14.00. If you don’t have a smoke machine and only need a little smoke, a packet of incense sticks for a couple of dollars will also do the trick. The small amount of fake blood could be substituted with tomato sauce/Ketchup.

BTS-MCreely04

Lighting: Set up on my dark cabinet with the small black polyboard as the background. Lit from both sides with one square medium size soft box and one large half dome softbox.

Conclusion

In each image you could substitute items for other such as replacing the tooth with a plastic bug, or take a bite out a marshmallow to leave the teeth marks behind.

You could replace the noose with ribbon, or flowers, or whatever it takes to create the story you want to tell.

It’s not about these particular images; it’s about creating the visual stories you want to tell, on a shoe-string. That’s where the creativity really kicks in, to help you create images that you wouldn’t have even thought about with an unlimited budget or resources.

So go on, create some big ideas on a small budget. It’s a lot more fun than you think. J

About The Author

Based in Melbourne, Australia, Morgana Creely is a fine art and conceptual photographer who runs a membership site to help photographers create images that tell stories. Morgana also recently published a book called “The Noise in My Head”. You can find Morgana at www.imagecinematic.com.

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17 responses to “[Strong Graphics] Big Ideas, Small Budget – How To Create Fun Conceptual Images On A Small Budget”

  1. Rick Scheibner Avatar
    Rick Scheibner

    I’m still looking for the strong graphics…

    1. Morgana Avatar
      Morgana

      Rick I think it was a warning for all the people that complained about my last article ;)

      https://www.diyphotography.net/using-dry-ice-for-adding-drama-to-your-pictures/

      1. Frank Avatar
        Frank

        OMG… that baby’s stuck in a noose!

  2. CJ Wilkes Avatar
    CJ Wilkes

    I love how you demonstrate that it does not need a huge expensive production to create a fun or great shot!

    1. Morgana Avatar
      Morgana

      Thank you :)

  3. Bjorn Avatar
    Bjorn

    Love it! I was disappointed the doll didn’t get a swing out of the deal!

    1. Morgana Avatar
      Morgana

      Thank you, and I’ll make sure next time ;)

  4. Kay Avatar
    Kay

    Nothing like loosing a finger or two while chopping up you fries. Reminds me of loosing a few finger nail while grating cheese. YUM!

    1. Morgana Avatar
      Morgana

      Ouch! Didn’t think of that! lol :)

  5. Torsten Kieslich Avatar
    Torsten Kieslich

    Absolutely great. As photographers were often told that we need to buy expensive stuff – this article helps to just free your view and look around you, use what you have. I love the “sweet tooth” idea. Simple and on the point.

    1. Morgana Avatar
      Morgana

      Thanks Torsten. I’m a big believer is using whatever you have to hand. :)

  6. Janice Avatar
    Janice

    Cool ideas, and amazing lighting! You would swear that baby was dangling!

    1. Morgana Avatar
      Morgana

      Thanks Janice :)

  7. Fiona Millington-Pipe Avatar
    Fiona Millington-Pipe

    Thanks for this – fabulous xx

    1. Morgana Avatar
      Morgana

      Thank you :)

  8. Lighspeed Snail Avatar
    Lighspeed Snail

    Add some floating eyeballs in the drink and this will be an awesome Halloween meal. :-)

    1. Morgana Avatar
      Morgana

      Yep, I have that image tucked away in my portfolio too. Great minds think alike :)