Sometimes you just can’t find the right tool for the job. That’s why these photographers made it themselves—then sold it to the rest of us.
RADIOPOPPER: Kevin King. Vancouver, WA
radiopopper.com $498 (PX transmitter and receiver)
Wedding photographer Kevin King was regularly annoyed by the inability of his DSLR’s dedicated wireless off-camera flash system to function properly when outside its line of sight. He set out to jury-rig it to work at greater distances and give him more positioning leeway. Despite lacking any electronics know-how, he created an add-on module that converts a dedicated flash system’s infrared beam into a radio signal that can travel around corners and behind objects to trigger off-camera flash. “I thought I’d duct-tape it to the side of the flash and go back to work,” he says. “I never had any intention to make a company of it.”
King did his first experiments on a TV remote-control extender. After little success, he started reading up on electronics and chatting up anyone with expertise in the technology. It took him a year and a half to devise his RadioPopper, which perches atop an on-camera master controller. “What kept me going ... was that I was always willing to stop to find out, ‘Well, how hard is it really?’ before deciding I couldn’t do it,” King says. “You might discover the solution is easier than you thought.”
Ironically, King encountered some of the greatest skepticism from experts in the field—non-photographers who didn’t think it could be done. As the aphorism goes: “Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.”