top of page

Unlocking Creativity on a Budget: A Dollar Store Guide for Beauty and Portrait Photographers

In the world of photography, it's all too easy to get lost in the allure of high-end equipment and pricey accessories. I'll be the first to admit, that I've fallen into that trap a time or two, investing hundreds of dollars in items that, in the end, served little purpose for my craft. However, there's a hidden gem that often goes unnoticed by many photographers – the dollar store. Yes, that's right, your local dollar store can be a treasure trove of genuinely useful photography accessories that won't break the bank.


women wearing a white tank top resting her hand on her chin looking into the camera with a piece of glass under her arms
Erin Holmstead Photography

As a beauty and portrait photographer, I've scoured these budget-friendly havens to discover a range of items that have become my trusty sidekicks. They not only save me a bundle but also spark my creativity. Let's delve into my top five dollar store photography finds.


1. Poster Board: Your Versatile Must-Have


Leading the charge is the humble poster board. It's hard to find a more versatile and consistently useful item for photographers. Whether it's a plain whiteboard serving as a reflector or a colorful backdrop for your portrait or flat-lay images, the dollar store's selection of poster boards is a goldmine. I've even used them to create colorful lighting effects without the need for expensive gels.


a women sitting on a stool next to a red poster board with a light shining on it getting her picture taken by a bunch of creative photographers
Erin Holmstead Photography

2. Instant Tac: The Photographer's Handy Helper


Indispensable for photographers, especially for those capturing wedding and macro shots. Instant Tac offers a discreet way to keep small objects in place, ensuring every detail is perfectly framed in your photographs.


3. Extension Cords and Power Bars: Essential for Every Shoot


Never embark on a shoot without these in your bag. As a photographer, you're often surrounded by various electronic devices that need a power source. Extension cords and power bars from the dollar store can be a lifesaver on location.


4. Mailing Envelopes and Bubble Wrap: Beyond Photography


These items might not seem directly related to photography, but they come in handy when you need to send gear to clients or protect your equipment. Plus, bubble wrap can double as a cushion for your precious cameras and lenses.


5. Clamps: Multipurpose Marvels


Clamps are another must-have for photographers. They're invaluable for holding up backdrops, securing reflectors to light stands, or even keeping your model's attire or hair in place during a shoot. While these might not be the highest quality clamps out there, they certainly get the job done.


Embrace Creativity with Dollar Store Finds


Beyond these essential photography items, dollar stores also provide a playground for creative props that can elevate your work:


1. Colored Lights: Paint with Light

For those who love light painting, the dollar store is your haven. Find a variety of knickknacks that light up, especially during Halloween. They're perfect for creating captivating light-painted portraits or abstract art.


macro shot of a girls eye with red and orange eye make peaking thru a leaf
Erin Holmstead Photography

2. Fake Flowers: A World of Possibilities

Flowers are fantastic for practicing macro photography, creating whimsical flower walls, or crafting enchanting flower crowns. Your dollar store has a wealth of affordable options.


3. Accessories: Add a Dash of Style

As a beauty and portrait photographer, you'll appreciate the array of photogenic accessories available at dollar stores. From scarves and hats to necklaces and quirky trinkets, there's no shortage of affordable finds to enhance your subjects' style.


closeup macro shot with a girl who has green eye and freckles surrounded by yellowish green flowers
Erin Holmstead Photography

Dollar Store Discoveries: Boosting Your Photography Arsenal

Dollar stores are a hidden resource for photographers, enabling you to expand your creative and technical possibilities without depleting your budget. I've personally sourced feathers, mirrors, candles, paints, tablecloths, stickers, and jewels, all from the dollar store, and used them to transform my photography.


So, beauty and portrait photographers, next time you're strolling through your local dollar store, keep an eye out for these hidden gems. You might just discover that your most budget-friendly finds become the secret ingredients to your most memorable shots. Your photography journey is about to get a creative and affordable boost. What treasures will you find at your neighborhood dollar store? Explore and let your imagination soar.

bottom of page