To Buy or DIY?


That definitely is the question that many photographers have to ask themselves when they’ve booked themed photoshoots. See that photo above? It took a lot of problem-solving to get there and it almost all started with the question...To Buy or DIY?

There are always ways to do things on a budget, yes. But, when time is of the essence, what to do?

I don’t know about you. But, I tend to compromise with a little o’ this and a little o’ that. I’ll tell you what I mean...

I recently recorded an interview with The Delaware Blogger that will air on September 11. So, I guess you could really say, that’s where it all really started. The Delaware Blogger has started a new podcast series where she interviews various Delawareans doing good things in their community. You should check it out.

In my interview, I reveal the code for a discount on some upcoming mini-sessions. I got the idea to do it from one of the questions I was asked for the interview about whether I had a special offer. So, naturally, with it being so close to the school year, I chose to do a Back-to-School mini for my offer. It didn’t dawn on me at the time that the interview wouldn’t be aired until September. By September, most mini-sessions for Back-to-School will be completed, giving way to fall mini session season. So, I had a couple problems to solve...One, how was I going to persuade folks to listen to my interview? I’m one of many photographers in Delaware. It’s no small feat. Two, how to give the listeners a little time to act on the code?


Well, my answer to that was to create a Back-to-School mini session marketing image. I’d make an image to promote the mini-session and announce the code for a discount on this year’s Back-to-School, Fall and Holiday sessions in the interview. Easy peasy, right?


You know what that actually meant? It meant I created another problem: I needed kids! For some reason, unbeknownst to me, most of the families I have immediate access to have kids in diapers. They’re nowhere near going to school yet. Now what?

I put a call out on my FB pages for some of my FB friends to find some people that would loan me their kids for the photoshoot so I could make an ad. I got a great response and had to close the call out within an hour. That was pretty awesome!

But, then, lo and behold. I had another problem...Where to source props on my budget? I mean, what’s the theme “Back to School” with no props, right?

I’m a creative, so I went to Michaels and looked around to see if I could get some inspiration. Of course, I found some things (well…more than a few to be precise-and I’m so glad I stayed away from the planner section, sheesh). The items I found had potential, though they honestly weren’t hitting the right notes for me. I found some baskets, some crates, some flowers and a few other odds and ends I probably didn’t need. Most of them were too…new, like these crates below.


Don’t get me wrong. I love me some new stuff! But, when I take photos, I feel like new things tend to sparkle and stand out. Sometimes, they take over an image. I like things that are muted and will stay in the background of a portrait. Old and worn stuff. Vintage stuff. Neutrals. Those things seem to balance well in a portrait and I can add colors in a way that everything doesn’t go haywire.

So, I took these new things, and with a few applications of a coffee, vinegar and steel wool combo applied every day from Monday to Thursday…



Ahhhh…Now we’re talking!

I bought some little decorations to go into the crates and the basket. I like how far they came along. And look how the color feels even more “color full” next to those neutrals (get it, color-full? Just kidding…).


The boyfriend and I were sitting around talking about this shoot when he mentioned getting me a desk for it.

Um...Hello! You don’t have to tease me twice!

I hopped onto the interwebs and found a desk set from the 1920s that I seriously loved. I must’ve emailed the link to him three times.

It was in MD and I couldn’t go get it this past week because of work conflicts. But, on Saturday, we packed up the kid and went to pick up my desk set. We were cutting it pretty close since I had photoshoots scheduled for Saturday afternoon. But, we made it!

Here are some of the photos from the first shoot using some of my new props. The basket and crates didn’t make it to this set. But, they’re more for sitting on and filling up with stuff anyway. I got a desk now! :) I’ll use the crates for the fall shoots.


Oh right! I don’t know who did it…But, somehow, my desk set got joined by a couple of vintage chairs. I just don’t know how…

Oh, okay. It was me.

Well, all is well that ends well. The parents that responded within the hour time frame were able to sign their children up for a Back-to-School mini-session on me for the rights to use their photos and I got some marketing photos for the upcoming seasons.


These last two use my favorite image from the set. I think it was a little soft around the eyes. But, I loved the expression, composition, and color! All I used for props here was a hat she didn’t like until she saw how cute she was (😂) and some silk flowers.

Fall minis 2.jpg

Cool, no?

If you like what you see here, like my FB page and see what I do next. 😉