Cherry Chapstick on Your Lens and Other Photography Tricks & Treats

Hi there! Are you trying to take photos with more of a ~vibe~? Do you want to try some new things that will give your photos texture and emotions? Have you been thinking, wow, adding cherry chapstick to my photography will really make it look cooler but I’m not sure where to start? Well I am so glad you asked!

I like messy photos – I like to capture moods and emotions in a slightly surreal aesthetic. I love incorporating old and broken things into my photos. I also use textures and trash (literal trash) and things you have in your house right now. These tips will work with everything from phone cameras to pro cameras! You can pick up items on your desk as you read this and start experimenting. 

To demonstrate a few tricks I made my friends (one of whom you might know) go to Coney Island on a cold winter day because why not! Also we ended up building a little story that should probably become a picture book? Or a movie? Would you see this movie?

The wonderful models are Vanessa and Shelly!

Okay we’re back. Lately, I have been very into hazy photos. To add that slightly soft slightly timeless look to your photos you can use pantyhose! Or a rainbow sheer scarf! Or any fabric that you can see-through if you pull it tight over your lens! In my opinion, anything is worth trying.

Hanging with some tights

Here’s an example without and with:

Nothing over the lens

Tights stretched over the lens!

Next! Chapstick! Vaseline! Lube? Whatever you have! The key here – and I cannot stress this enough – is to order a cheap UV lens filter that goes on the outside of your lens. If you are using your phone or a disposable, this is less important as long as you have the proper cleaning supplies. 

You want to smear a small amount in a circle around the edge of the filter (or lens) – you can play around with where it is as it will blur whatever is covered. For concerts, I put a tiny bit around the edge and it makes the lights really fill up the frame and twinkle.

Holding my very dirty lens filter

For this I used cherry chapstick because I forgot vaseline and then I went and rolled in sand dunes so my lens was covered in chapstick and sand. I liked it so I kept it. (Note: It was very hard to clean so I was grateful I did not apply it directly onto the lens.) This is also applied very liberally and way more than I would use to produce a subtle effect.






With! (I had to complete the story okay)

If I can leave you with any tip it’s just to literally put stuff in front of your lens. The most well known options are prisms and crystals but you can use your phone if you set the screen to black and hold it along the edge of your camera! Cut open a ziplock bag and stick the camera through it! I’ve even cut open a paper cup and shot through the bottom. 

Once you’ve taken these amazing fun new photos where some things worked and some things really didn’t (life is a journey) it is time to edit! Get wild, make cool art, alter reality, send me what you make!

Here are some bonus images!

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Molly Adams is an LA-based photographer. You can find documenting life from Afghanistan to Standing Rock to the LA queer nightlife. You can also find her on Instagram.

Molly has written 59 articles for us.


  1. Personally, I’d be worried about putting sand on the front of my lens as sand can scratch it, but I do have a cheap filter I could try this with. Thank you as always! Side note: earlier today, I saw a review for an iPhone 11 case called the PolarPro, which adds the ability to screw on their ND or polarizer filter. I am sure they offer a UV filter too, which would work great here. Or just handhold a $5 UV or ND filter & sand that up with chapstick so the phone doesn’t get scratched, cause phones are getting pricier year after year.

    • Oh yes I should have clarified the sand was not intentional – I shot in sand dunes and it stuck to the chapstick. I definitely recommend using a cheap filter for all of this!!

      And yes that seems very cool and would definitely work! Hold anything up to a phone and see how it goes!

      • Ah, I missed the part it was an accident. I’ve been on enough sand dunes(well the same one multiple time) that I know how that goes.


  3. Enraptured by those photos, the story and those models wow. The chapstick really adds a dream-like quality to the photos. Must try this at home sometime !

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