Shooting on a Budget: How to Take Amazing Portrait Photos Anywhere

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  By Taya Ivanova
Shooting on a Budget: How to Take Amazing Portrait Photos Anywhere

You’ve probably dreamed of having an unlimited amount of money that you could spend on camera equipment, professional models, and traveling. As wonderful as these dreams are, they’re not the only formula for great portrait photography.

When I started taking photos, all I had was a phone with a 2-megapixel camera. Only in a few years did I have the chance to afford a DSLR. Before that, I used a variety of small cameras. Today, I shoot with a 50mm 1.8 lens that has been my partner in crime for over 6 years.

Though having professional equipment is very handy, it doesn’t mean you can’t take amazing portrait photos with your smartphone or a small camera. The tips below will show you how to take eye-catching portraits without spending a lot of money on equipment, locations, or assistants.

shooting on a budget

Take Self-Portraits

The best way to practice without spending any money at all is to photograph yourself.

Self-portrait photography will eliminate any need for makeup artists, stylists, or assistants. It will prevent you from stressing yourself out, worrying about time, or fearing miscommunication.

It’s ideal for beginners who want to strengthen their portrait photography skills without making a lot of mistakes. It’s also a great opportunity for experts to challenge themselves by focusing solely on their own expressions and poses.

Improve Your Editing Skills

Colour correction goes a long way when it comes to portraits. Combine a well-lit photo with great editing skills and you’ll get a masterpiece.

You don’t need to watch tutorials for hours or learn techniques that you don’t even like. Just familiarise yourself with tips, tricks, and shortcuts. Here are a few articles/podcasts to get you started:

10 Lightroom Tips and Tricks

5 Photoshop Tips

Top 5 Mobile Editing Apps

Editing Mistakes Beginning Photographers Make

With this information in mind, you’ll be able to build a solid foundation for your editing knowledge.

Take Photos in Simple Locations

This might seem boring, but it’s one of the best ways to improve your resourcefulness. By limiting yourself to one location, you’ll learn how to find potential in details. By finding potential in details, you’ll open yourself up to many creative possibilities. With a mindset like that, you won’t need to go far to find breathtaking locations. You’ll naturally find beauty in every corner.

My go-to setup is a white wall and natural window light. I also like experimenting with unusual wallpapers.

Make Your Own Indoor Studio

Affordable DIY studios are becoming more and more popular. Here are a few ideas that won’t cost you a penny:

  • Use colorful bedsheets as backdrops
  • If you want a fresh look, have your model stand in front of a white wall or door
  • If it’s dark outside, light up your model’s face using artificial light (lamps or torches)
  • If it’s bright outside, use natural window light to enhance your portraits

Create Foregrounds


are parts of an image that is closest to your camera. They’re ideal for framing, adding a touch of color to your portraits, and making simple photos look more interesting.

The cheapest way to make your portraits stand out is to use colorful objects as foregrounds. All you have to do is partly cover your lens with an item (e.g. a plant or fairy lights), set your aperture to a small f-number (this will create a pleasant blur), and shoot. Your results will look striking.

There’s a lot you can do with whatever camera you have, be it a DSLR or a smartphone. Shooting on a budget will strengthen your creative skills, open your mind to unique ideas, and give you a chance to appreciate every detail on this planet.


Do you have any interesting stories about photoshoots and tight budgets? Let us know in the comments!

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I'm an admirer of nature, a photographer, and a curious reader. Writing about photography and helping others improve is a growing passion of mine. My constant wish is to inspire others to be creatively fearless and endlessly curious. "Always dream bigger is my advice to you, because you can have whatever your heart desires" - Ashley Graham

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