DIY Photography - Homemade Reflectors and Pop-Up Flash Diffusers

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New to photography, don’t have much money to invest in ‘tools’ to play around with? You don’t have to spend a ton to get the job done. Why not DIY – Do It Yourself! When I first began my photography adventure a couple of years ago, I didn’t have the big bucks to fund my new found ‘passion.’ I was just starting to learn the basics in the art of photography and I quickly learned how limiting my pop-up flash was. So began my search for more creative lighting without the expensive cost.

Homemade reflectors are the easiest and most efficient tools you could have in playing with light. They can be made out of reflective surfaces like silver aluminum, or, if you search hard enough, gold aluminum. Diffusing surfaces like white silk or white vinyl, or light absorbing materials like black leather or black polyester are all good starting points and can be made as big or as little as you need. A lot of times you can get fabric scraps from your local fabric store for under $1, or if you look really hard I bet you might have a fabric scrap hidden in your closet (after my daughter’s bed wetting stage, I immediately took the white vinyl bed covering from her bed and used all of the material for many wonderful, multi-sized reflectors - after washing it, of course!). Once you have found your fabric and/or metal the next thing you need is a sturdy surface. Heavy cardboard works well, as does an old poster frame or an old windowpane. Nail, glue and/or staple your fabric to your surfaces and VOILA!, instant magic!

Pop-up flash diffusers are both useful and an easy way of distributing light evenly around your subject(s). There are a couple on the market that seem a bit on the pricey side, so I racked my brain and created this simple and CHEAP alternative:

Materials you will need

  • 1 - square leftover container (approx. 3”×3”, 4”×4” or 5”×5” works best – rectangular is a bit awkward when joining it with other pieces, plus the weight distribution is off)
  • ¼ yard of any kind of black fabric (or enough to fit around your square container twice)
  • 1 - empty liquid hand soap container (I find Bath and Body Works antibacterial collection to work the best because of the container’s diamond shape, but any container could work as long as the opening is small enough to fit atop your pop-up flash)
  • 1 - small remnant of any white diffusing material that will fit over the opening of your leftover container (white silk, white vinyl or even paper-thin white plastic could work – the idea is to have a hint of shine in the fabric)
  • Hot crafting glue gun (Elmer’s school glue does not work, trust me I tried it!)
  • 1 – sharp knife capable of cutting into hard plastic


Pop up your camera flash. Cut the mouth of your soap container just enough to make a snug fit with your pop-up flash. If you cut too much it is okay, you can tighten it with some black material.

Place your soap container atop your flash. Mark where your flash is on the container. Take the container off of your flash and cut a small enough opening so your flash pokes out of the opening. Make adjustments if needed.

Next, take your square leftover container, lay it on top of the soap container and mark another opening for the flash, cut a hole in your leftover container. Put the two containers together so both holes line up. Take your hot glue gun and adhere the two containers together (you might have to press the two together for a few seconds until the glue bonds). Get your white fabric remnant and cover the entire lid opening of the leftover container. Glue the fabric around the sides while making sure the fabric is pulled taught (Warning: hot glue is… surprise!…HOT, so protect your fingers when pressing the fabric into the sides).

Now, take your black fabric and creatively glue and wrap anything that is not your diffuser. Wait for all of the glue to dry before placing it on top of your camera flash. And there you have it, a homemade flash diffuser for free, or, if you had to buy some things, for under $5-$10.

DIY Photography - Homemade Reflectors and Pop-Up Flash Diffusers - Image 1

DIY Photography - Homemade Reflectors and Pop-Up Flash Diffusers - Image 2

DIY Photography - Homemade Reflectors and Pop-Up Flash Diffusers - Image 3 - Without Diffuser on Pop-Up Flash
Without Diffuser on Pop-Up Flash

DIY Photography - Homemade Reflectors and Pop-Up Flash Diffusers - Image 3 - With Diffuser on Pop-Up Flash
With Diffuser on Pop-Up Flash

That’s all for now. I hope these quick do-it-yourself projects are useful and you enjoy making them as much I have.