How to build collapsible scrims or reflectors on location. Cheap and easy.


Estrella Navarro on my shoot for Outside Magazine. Lit with home made scrims.

A couple of years back I was hired to do a shoot for Outside Magazine of Mexican free diving champion Estrella Navarro in La Paz (Baja California). I was wintering in my house in Todos Santos (also Baja California).  I had flown to Todos Santos and decided to leave my handy Scrim Jims in Montana since I already had too much to carry on my plane.  I figured I could rent or have my assistant bring the scrims on shoots.  In this case there was no budget to fly my assistant and there was no place to rent.  I use Scrims on 80% of my portraits shots, to either bounce or scrim light (both natural and strobes), I needed some scrims!  Living in a place like Mexico you learn to become resourceful and what I came up with is something that I now use all the time.  Especially when I don’t want to travel too loaded with gear or on personal projects where I might not have an assistant.  To build a scrim frame is easy, all you need is some 1 inch PVC pipe (2).  Four L shape PVC connectors for 1 inch PVC (3).  2  1 inch to 1 inch straight PVC connectors (1), 1 inch velcro (4), a hack saw (5), PVC glue (6) and about two hours of time.  Building the silks and reflectors (7-8) is a little more tricky.  You will need a good fabric store to find the fabric, velcro (10) or rubber band material (9) and a good seamstress to put it together.  Or you can purchase the fabric from Westcott and just build the frames.  Flying with a lot of stuff is a hassle these days and what I like about building PVC frames on location is that I can pack all the fabrics and then build the frames once I get there.  It only takes a couple of hours and you can find PVC almost anywhere in the world.

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How to build the frame

These are the tools you will need.  Can buy at any hardware store.  PVC Glue (6) and Hacksaw (5)

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A) Cut 4 pieces of PVC to desired size (Width and Length).  If you want the disassemble final frame to be smaller cut the long pieces in half.

B) Glue all the L shape pieces (3) for the corners.  Make sure to only glue one side so you can disassemble.

C) Glue the 1 inch to 1 inch connector (1).  Make sure to only glue one side so you can disassemble.

D) Put the frame together and glue velcro (4) on one side.  If you use the rubber band system (9) on the corners you don’t need the velcro.


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 How to put together the fabrics.

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This is where you will need a good seamstress but there are two ways of doing this.  Cut the fabric to size and put velcro on all edges (10) (most tight fit)

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 Cut fabric to size and put rubber band on corners (9).  This is the easiest method.  Also makes it easier to build frame as you don’t need velcro.  However the fit is not as tight as with velcro.

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One Response
  • Edward Odonkor Reply

    Thanks so much this will save me a lot of money.

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