Here Are Five Unusual Uses for Photography Umbrellas

A video recently posted by COOPH, “5 Photo Hacks with Your Umbrella,” provides photographers creative inspiration for a tool that is typically seen as single purpose. Chances are, you will finish it feeling inspired.

The five hacks in the video are smoke bombing, DIY light source, control the shadow, bouncing, and overhead patterns.

The innovative side of this video might be even more valuable than its technical advice. COOPH (Cooperative of Photography) studio rethinks a number of uses for the photographic umbrella, a tool most of us simply use to soften and diffuse light. This approach is definitely expanding the old suggestion to “think outside the box.” They fool around with the figurative box, making it more emotional than functional and turn it into a non-box.

a man holding an umbrella flash inside a bedroom

A photography umbrella is usually nothing more than a piece of cloth on metal, but sometimes, it might be something else: a vehicle for atmospheric smoke, a picturesque prop viewed by a drone camera, or something else entirely. This conjured up a famous line for me:

“Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.”

This quote has actually had several interpretations and adaptations. I see a converse image of “a rose is” in COOPH’s imaginative hacks on the photography umbrella. A photography umbrella need not always be used as a conventional one.

What other camera equipment do you use in an off-label manner? Does this video inspire you to find a new use for those gels or flags sitting around the studio? Share your creative photography ideas in the comments below.

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3 Comments

Vincent Alongi's picture

Not a single “photography” umbrella in the video....

Scott Mason's picture

Incorrect, they employ a STU umbrella at 3:40.

You could use a regular umbrella as they did in the video, or a reversible photography umbrella with the cover on it. But that's not important -- the idea is to inspire creativity. Thanks for watching, Vincent!

marcgabor's picture

Aside from DIY light modifiers (some are kinda useful I guess but photo umbrellas are also really inexpensive) who's going to actually copy the photos made in this video?