I’m not one to use DIY products because personally, I don’t like the cheap look of it and it doesn’t go over very well when you get to a big shoot and all the client sees is white PVC tubing with interlocking parts and cheap clunky stuff holding your camera equipment together. It’s just not professional and I’m sure you want to look somewhat pro. Now, with that said, there are a couple of items that I would not consider to be cheap looking or give off that DIY look. One of these being a standard reflector.
When it comes to working with reflectors, I try and stay away from flimsy reflectors that don’t direct a steady light on the subject, they tend to be very squirmy and act more like a Pringles chip. I prefer a stiff reflector. If money is no object then obviously go with the best reflectors money can buy, in my opinion, the California Sunbounce. I believe it’s the best reflector on the market but be prepared to empty the wallet on these bad boys. All the other circle 5-1 reflectors you see on Ebay for around $30 bucks are cheap and no good. Sure they will get you by but if you want something better then go with a solid reflector.
So lets say you don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for a nice solid reflector, well here’s your ticket! For under $20 bucks you can build your own reflector in about 20 minutes. You don’t need to be that smart to build it either. This reflector can be seen in large production sets and in the movie business because they work very well.
All you need to do is go to your local hardware store like Home Depot. Amongst all the pink rolls of foam, probably at the end of the aisle you’ll come up to the white sheets of R-Tech foam board that usually come in two different sizes. 4×8 sheets or 2×4 sheets. They also come in 1″ or 1/2″ thick, I may be wrong but it’s only two thicknesses, go with the thinner ones. Why two sheets? Because on one side you will have the shiny silver reflector that you want but on the other side you have a sheet that has blue writing on it which you can’t get rid of because once you pull the sheet backing off if it the blue writing will still show and you want this side to be pure white.
Once you have your sheets, pull the silver backing off of one of the sheets. This will leave you with a nice white side, if all the silver doesn’t come off, just use some sandpaper to get rid of the rest. Now, all you do is sandwich the two halves together, make sure you have silver on one side and pure white on the other, spray some 3M adhesive spray (make sure it’s not the one that eats foam) and tape the borders with duct tape. I like the Gorilla brand duct tape the best.
That’s about it! Now you have yourself a perfectly rigid reflector for under $20 bucks! If you make a second ones it’ll be even cheaper because you already have the adhesive spray and they tape. Try it out and let me know how it works out for you on your next photo shoot. Until next time…..