Are you wanting to take your photography up a notch but you don’t have the budget to do so? Continue reading to see how you can take professional-looking photos on a low budget.

How to Take Professional Looking Photos on a Low Budget

professional looking photos

Ample Opportunity to Stretch Your Photography Dollar

Just because the majority of cameras today are of the “analog” variety doesn’t mean you must rely solely on this option. Today’s photographers have more equipment in the smartphone they carry daily than top-of-the-line photographers did twenty years ago. Technological exponentiation makes a lot available to you, but it’s not the only alternative.

You can use the internet to look up a tutorial showing what you’ll need to develop your own photos. Chemicals, a dark room, red lighting, and time are the key ingredients. If you’ve got a closet and some free time, you can make your own photo development station in the basement. It’s really not that hard; you just have to get the lighting right.

Darkroom kits for new analog photographers (color as well as black and white) are available for, on the low end, around $140. You can find quality cameras in thrift stores or flea markets, or online, for $60 or less; maybe even as little as just a couple bucks. So for less than the cost of a new smartphone, you can develop photos in the old way.

If you’ve got a smartphone, you can take pictures of notable quality and augment them using varying software tricks to look “high dollar”. Certainly, you could spend thousands of dollars on the latest high-definition digital cameras and lenses; but low budgets make that hard. Consider the following tactics for cost-effective photography.

  1. Use Film, Develop Photos, Upload Them, Edit Them, Learn

    People discount film because technology has moved on. This is a mistake. There is still a lot that can be done with film in terms of development technique and light capture. In the development room, you can even learn to augment certain pictures so that the finished product has an artistic appearance.

Get a development kit, clean out a closet, make it into a dark room, and have some fun. Upload what photos you produce, edit them online, and repeat the process. As you learn, you’ll find subtle things give you notable results.

Essentially, this is what you’d do at a school teaching photography. You can do it way more cost-effectively at home for a similar result in terms of personal knowledge.

  1. Take Advantage of Digital Storage for Multiple Pictures

    The real downside of film is the film itself. Digital storage allows you to take almost infinite pictures, film limits you to thirty-odd pictures per roll, depending on the roll. So take advantage of that reality. Take all the pictures you can, keep the good ones, delete the rest. A broken clock is right twice daily, after all. Photographic coverage alone can produce some gems.

  2. Use Digital Apps for Photo Enhancement

    There are plenty of digital apps out there that can be used to enhance photos. You can use filters to make a photograph look like a painting, you can use digital tools for “blur background” effects that look much like professional film-based photos utilizing “depth-of-field” techniques. Get all the digital apps, learn them, and use them.

  3. Experiment, Share Your Discoveries

    The best way to learn is to experiment and share what you learn with others who are similarly enthusiastic about photography. Also share what you like on social media, but you need real feedback from real people if you want to really invigorate your passion in photography.

  4. Always Pay Attention to Lighting

    Lighting is really where the novices are separated from the pros in photography. Use online tutorials to help you get an idea why lighting is so important, and how best to use lighting in your pictures. Once you’ve learned something, play around with that technique so you understand its application tangibly as well as conceptually.

High-Class Pictures From Low-Cost Photography Equipment

You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on photography equipment to produce professional-looking photos.

Someone can gain affordably old equipment, and you can develop photos at home. Beyond repurposing old camera equipment, new digital tech is cheaper than ever, and provides capacity for extensive storage: take lots of pictures. Also, use digital apps (some free, others affordable) to augment pictures.

Experiment, share discoveries, and pay close attention to lighting regardless of the method you used to capture pictures. Such tactics should help you produce pictures that aren’t just gorgeous, they stand with the best in the business.

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About the Author: McKenna Tucker