$20 Photo Challenge-Dripping in Gold


Personal projects can get expensive pretty quickly. Thinking back to my 2D art classes as a broke college student, some of my most creative pieces came then. Why was that? I think that it is because constraint is a motivator of creativity. It forces you to think outside of the box. What if I still had to stay within strict boundaries? How creative would this push me to be? Thus the $20 photo challenge was born. That's it. Twenty bucks for a complete shoot.

Music often inspires me. While on a Youtube binge I stumbled upon an old favorite “Crave You-Dubstep” and I was struck. The shoot theme would be dripping in gold. I put the song on repeat and headed to Pinterest. “DIY GOLD” brought a few results. Mostly how to gold leaf bowls. For a second I had a wardrobe thought reminiscent of Madonna circa early 90s. “DIY GOLD FASHION” brought me a few more ideas, and I set off for the thrift store.

To my happy surprise there was a 50% off sale. Score. I surreptitiously crept through the clothing racks and came up empty handed. I think of thrift hunting in passes. If I don't see something in the first pass through, I circle around and make another pass. On about the third lap squeaking my empty cart through the store my eye caught a lowly box of paper. I tossed aside a few rolls of wallpaper, a Hannah Montana poster, and then I saw it. A giant roll of thermal paper. I picked it up mostly for the quantity, but the possibility of a color changing dress was too exciting to pass up so I put it in the cart. One of the pins I had found was a spray painting a clutch gold. I won't name the thrift store I was at, but let's just say it rhymes with Shmoodshmill. This place often gets brand-new-never-been-opened merchandise from a place I'll call Shmarget. They had a few of these new bags that may have spray painted nicely, but then I found an already gold clutch. Perfect! I was now giddy with excitement as I skipped towards the shoes. There were a few good options, but I narrowed it down to a sky high pair of black patent stilettos. When I got the shoes home, I compared them to those on my Pinterest board. They were missing something. I thought hard about what I might already have in my house that may add some texture. I opted for aluminum foil, found my hot glue gun, and prayed that I wasn't about to commit some shoe karma sin. An hour and a half of gluing and losing most of my fingerprints, I had created what looked like two chipotle burritos for your feet. Panic struck my heart. Concluding that “Maybe now is a good time for the gold spray paint I had been hoarding from a past Pinterest fail.” Subsequently realizing that a freak mid May snowstorm had moved in, I Then decided to spray paint inside. In my kitchen. Knowing that I should have chosen a more well ventilated area, I wondered how many more brain cells this venture would cost me, and if that would ever be something I could buy on amazon. (you know, for the free shipping) and then I called it a night. 

My challenge breakdown so far:

  • Thermo paper: $3
  • Steve Madden Stilettos: $5
  • Gold Clutch: $1.50

If you want to see the results form this budget stylized shoot, you'll have to come back. But in the meantime, try your own $20 stylized shoot. Or nominate someone you know to take this challenge. And make sure you send us your results! We want to see what you creative geniuses can come up with on a $20 budget.


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Starting her career as an early education teacher, Wedding and Lifestyle Photographer, Quianna Marie, only dreamed about going full-time until she took the plunge three years ago. Through leading her San Jose Tuesdays Together chapter, countless styled shoots, and several workshops and conferences, not to mention her 12 years in the industry, Quianna has learned a […]

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