Ep 38: What Would MacGyver do? The Best DIY Photography Hacks

People in grey jumpsuits flying through the sky like they're embattled

If Gina was ever reincarnated, she would come back as MacGuyver. That’s because she’s been on so many photography jobs where she’s needed to improvise and get out of tight spots – often because of factors outside her control. So she’s developed a knack for MacGuyvering everything from temporary boom and light stands, lens holders, all kinds of diffusers, and much more. Often, she’s had to use everyday items that you can find in the house or your car.

In this episode, Gina explains to Valerie her top MacGuyver hacks. It’s well worth a listen because you may just need to improvise on your next shoot.

This week’s theme for #ginachallenge is #MacGuyver

Click play to listen to the podcast or find it on iTunes here. If you don’t use iTunes you can get the feed here, or listen to us on Stitcher radio.

Show notes

Forget selfies! The latest holiday accessory is a professional photographer – Gina and Valerie discuss the new trend of holiday tours that come with your very own Instagramming photographer. Is this is a new career?

Image Critique: Ben Hopkins

Person fishing near the rocks with sun set over the water

person fishing near the rocks with sunset over the water but slightly more orange

24-105 L
ISO 100
1/15th sec
Edited in camera RAW

Listen to the podcast to hear our feedback.

What would Macgyver do?

To MacGuyver (verb) : To improvise a creative solution to a seemingly impossible situation by using everyday found objects, faith, spit, gaffer tape and a bit of luck.

The essentials for all DIY photographers

1. White rip stop nylon

white rip stop nylon rolled out

Buy white rip stop nylon here.

2. Gaffer tape (note: this is different to duct tape)

a roll of black gaffer tape on a white background

MacGuyvering a sunbounce/diffuser/scrim (via Jag’s Photo Blog)

An image of a home made sunbounce

Tip – add white rip stop nylon and create a diy diffuser

Cheap product tent (via strobist)

Learn how to make a light tent from a cardboard box! Instructions here.

Amazing full size light box for portraits (via popular photography)

Photographer Kevin Lynch Shows Off His Portable, Studio-Sized Lightbox
It allows him to shoot with even, daylight-like lighting in any situation

Paused YouTube video of a diy light box being set up

Barfbag diffuser

A motion sickness bag over a flash

Instructions here.

MacGuyvering 35mm film into 120mm film (via popular photography)

Two images of how to take a 35mm film and make it 120mm


MacGuyvering a DIY photo booth

Instructions here.

Macgyver bags

  • Cricket or hockey bag for stands
  • Suitcase for gear
  • Roller bag for cables and accessories

MacGuyvering clamps as flash light stands

A clamp holding a flash light to the edge of a table

Instructions here.

MacGuyvering DIY printing onto timber (via popphoto)

A paused YouTube clip of a person taping a piece of paper to a surface


  • works best with bright, poppy images
  • use label printing paper
  • remove labels
  • print on shiny part
  • transfer onto woodblock
  • seal with lacquer or varnish

MacGuyvering protection for your floor

  • Tennis balls for light stands
  • Rubber feet for chairs

MacGuyvering a light pole

Image of the pole adapter against a black background and in a black and white frame with caption

Kacey Enterprises Kacey Pole Adapter, 5/8 Baby Pin on Top / Standard Extension Pole Threads on Bottom

MacGuyvering a ring flash from a KFC bucket (via diyphotography.net)

Two images one on the left shows a white round contraption. Image on right show the ring flash in use on a female presenting model against a dark grey blue background.

the tools required to make a kfc bucket ring flash including scissors, kfc bucket and more


MacGuyvering a continuous ring light (via Adam Byers)

black and white photo of a male presenting person wearing a white t-shirt and lit by a continuous ring light

black and white photo of light rig which is a disk with several lightbulbs in it.

MacGuyvering a gridspot (via popphoto.com)

a flash with corrugated cardboard strapped to it using a rubber band

MacGuyvering a ring light on your smartphone (via diyphotography.net)

A Persian cat with green eyes Smart phone ring flash diy hack smart phone ring flash hack tools


MacGuyvering a beauty dish using a wok!

MacGuyvering sandbags (via ISO1200.com)

feminine person wearing shorts and holding two blue sandbags

  • Cut up jeans
  • Or 2 nylon zip bags zip tied together

MacGuyvering camera straps (via Sarah Hipwell for Digital Photography School)

close up of red cord used as a strap

This paracord is strong and really inexpensive to purchase. It comes in a variety of colours. There are a multitude of uses for this cord, it’s a dream for most DIY enthusiasts. However, this configuration of strap isn’t a fail safe option should you let your camera fall out of your hand.

MacGuyvering a wrist rubber band to prevent zoom creep

yellow wrist rubber band around a nikon camera to prevent zoom creep

I used to own a Nikon 18-200mm VR lens. It was a great versatile lens. But after some time, when I would take macro or overhead shots, where the camera is at 45 angle or more, I’d notice the lens would creep (move slightly due to gravity). I found this neat solution online to put a wrist rubber band around the zoom ring and the barrel of the lens. It worked and was a perfect solution to prevent the lens from creeping.

#ginachalleng #macguyver

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About Gina

Gina Milicia is one of the most widely known and respected photographers in Australia. She is the master of capturing that ‘magical moment’... READ MORE