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Assuming I don't have any friend that help with my photography, what can I do to hold a reflector in position while I shoot? Let's assume that if I'm cheap enough to use a windshield sunshade as a reflector I'm too cheap for the $200+ accessories.

I found which looks good, except the attachment is male and not female so I can't attach this to my tripod.

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Two words: Gaffer. Tape. – Matt Grum Jul 17 '12 at 19:20
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Having been through this myself in an attempt to use a reflector all by myself:

  1. Something like this - its an adjustable arm that attaches to a lightstand and lets you pivot the reflector around. It works fairly well with two/three big downsides. One, the stand really really needs to be weighted then, it just too off balance otherwise. Two, it takes up A LOT of room when assembled, don't plan on using the whole lightstand+reflector in a small area. Three, its just not good outside - its a giant sail. You can really only use it inside.

  2. For using a reflector solo I've had more luck using one of these - a triangular reflector with a hand grip on it. You can hold it with one hand and click the shutter with the other. Its difficult to do just right though and really works best for head shots. The advantage is that you can get one of these and clamp it really easily by the handle though. It's also small enough to put on your hip and carry it around without banging into everything.

In general, its really, REALLY hard to use a reflector by yourself. It seems like when people mention how good a reflector is, they just glaze over the fact that a second person is really needed. Even with the above methods, its often easier just to break out a flash if somebody isn't around to help you - that way I'm not trying to balance a reflector in one hand or keep something from blowing over (even with sandbags).

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Maybe you could use a remote shutter release and hold the reflector yourself?

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You can use a reflector holder/bracket like this, or one of the cheaper versions, although most of the reviews at this price level are complaints about the products not working. An even cheaper solution could be something like a length of wooden dowel and some clamps like these.

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Get the model to hold it

For head shots, the model can hold the reflector - just get them to hold it as if they were carrying a tray of drinks.

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Here's a selection of very cheap or free options:

  • Gaffer/duck tape and a chair/piece of furniture
  • Pillows or cushions
  • Clothespegs or small clamps (very useful for attaching to the model)
  • Lay it flat on the floor or wall
  • String
  • The model's chaperone
  • Whatever comes to hand
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I agree with @claraonager: anyone in attendance gets to be a gaffer.

I just found some "nano" paracord and picked up a 300-foot spool to add to my bag, but have not used it yet.

Small (half-inch) binder clips pack in a small light space, easily grab a cloth, and have a handy place to tie paracord on.

Look at surplus "space blankets" for reflector cloth. Reflectors are tough in general without a controlled environment--diffusers are easier. Even with somone holding a gold collapsing reflector large enough and close enough, the wind twists and folds it like you would not beleive.

Another suggestion for cheap reflecting is to cover some panel with aluminum tape sold for heating ductwork.

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