DIY Light Stands and Why PVC is the Photographer’s / Filmmaker’s Best Friend

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Whether you’re an aspiring photographer/filmmaker or a seasoned pro, you know that one of the biggest truths about the photo/video industry is that those who get involved by and large have a passion for their craft.  A passion for creation that helps them to bring their images to life.  Of course, after going around pricing up all the cameras, lenses and gear that you want, a second major truth becomes apparent…  Photography and Filmmaking can be expensive (especially if you’re starting out from scratch), but they don’t have to be…

How To Start Your Photo/Video Business on a Budget

Once upon a time, you would have had to invest thousands of dollars into either a still photo or video camera system to produce anything that was near professional quality.  But recent advancements in mirrorless technology have now brought the cost of producing high quality HD still images and video within reach of the masses.  Where once you would’ve needed to buy two separate cameras, one for stills and one for video that cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars each, you can now get a relatively inexpensive mirrorless system like the Sony RX100 or a Panasonic Lumix LX7 (two of our favorite cameras of 2012), or an interchangeable lens model like a Panasonic Lumix GX1 (which sold for about $900 a year ago, but now can be purchased at an incredible bargain – only $341.99 USD with a kit lens at the time of this posting).  Any of these cameras will produce both still photos and videos that will rival, if not surpass the quality of images produced by the most expensive cameras of yesteryear and are great solutions for those looking to get started.  In fact, many photographers today use these as a second, “go anywhere” system.

That takes care of the camera, but what about the rest?

A good camera system is only half the battle.  You also have to take into consideration all gear you might need, but before we get into things like reflectors, backdrops, audio equipment, video sliders and stabilizers, jib cranes, batteries, etc., lets talk about the second most important component of making great images…  Lighting.

Next to a good camera, lighting is the most important component of making a high quality image.  Indeed, many photographers refer to their craft as “painting with light.”  Now, if you’re just starting out and good lighting isn’t in the budget, there are alternatives, such as work lights or clamp lights, but where you have lights you’ll also need stands to hold those lights, and those can get pretty pricey too.  Many times, you’ll find that you just need to improvise and make do with the things you have on hand (full disclosure, I’ve actually used bar stools from my breakfast bar as stands onto which to hook the clamp lights :->), but as you can see in the three videos we’re posting in this article, with a few bucks, a little PVC and a lot of imagination, there are low cost solutions that will fit into any budget.

The videos in this post are meant to serve as inspiration.  You may gravitate towards one of the designs posted here and build it as is, or you might come up with a better idea on your own (and if you do, please let us know about it!).

The video above features Scott Eggleston (aka theFrugalFimmaker) with the simplest and least expensive design in this article (Scott says that he cam make one of these stands for under $5.00 USD).  They’re also the most versatile and portable design, in my opinion.

Next up, it’s Ryan Connoly and the FilmRiot crew, with a little more elborate model that’s a bit sturdier and comes in at about $10.00 USD.

Last but not least, Alex from AlexSokolsyPhoto shows us his take on the C-Stand, which are fairly ubiquitous on motion picture sets due to its modular nature and versatility.  They’re typically used to position various flags, color gels, bounce cards, and silks in front of light sources to block, direct, or modify the incoming light. However, C-Stands can also be used to mount small lights and rig anything that can  fit on the stand.


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