Owning my own home studio for portraits and still life photography I am always on the lookout for bits and pieces. So when items come across my path I rarely say no, especially if they are free.

Never look a gift horse in the mouth

It honestly amazes me what some people throw away. So be careful when you think you are discarding old junk. From the table to the vintage sheet music and even the violin (which now actually belongs to a friend of mine, I just borrowed it). All of this is reclaimed junk and rubbish, upcycled if you will. Can you believe it?

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

And sometimes even if it is broke, don’t fix it! Seriously. I have a friend with a three-legged vintage chair. I saw it and immediately thought a fake leg and old books (with holes drilled through them) to hold up the chair would be so cool. Sadly, I’m still waiting to see it happen, but I guarantee when it does I NEED to grab a shot.

A friend spotted the pitcher and bowl in a thrift store and bought it for me for a few dollars. I picked up the hall table with a wobbly leg and a few scratches. The scratches can stay — they add character — but I might look at fixing the wobbly leg just so it doesn’t tip over and break things. Stale ice cream waffle cones? Sure I can use those! You can create with just about anything!

Learn to say no

The risk of saying yes to everything is real. I’ve learnt the hard way to say no, especially to larger items. Always ask yourself first, WHAT will you do with it and WHERE will you store it. If like me, you only have a smallish area and it’s already jam-packed with tables, chairs, props and studio wardrobe.

There was once a time when someone offered me dresses, gowns and outfits for the studio I said yes until I became a dumping ground for unwanted clothes. I then had to bag them up and take to the thrift stores! I am very careful these days and ask for photos and sizes. Some are still great to take, but others are literally just junk. The same goes for costume jewelry. It’s great to have a selection to chose from, but eventually, you just have to say no.

The moral of the story

If you are looking to get rid of some stuff you think is just junk before you bin it, check with a photographer or two and see if they want it. But don’t be upset if they say no. If you get no takers, then offer it to the local thrift store to see if they can sell it for a few dollars.

Please consider recycling and upscaling. If it IS rubbish, please dispose of thoughtfully. Just remember just because you think it’s junk, someone else won’t think it’s treasure.