My first week at New England School of Photography my professors gave me the infamous “required equipment lists”. I was shocked. My eyes hesitantly scanned over the packets of papers feeling both nervous and excited at the same time. I thought, how can I afford all of this, what is a TTL cord, and then it hit me. If I buy everything on this list then I will learn exactly how to use everything. I needed it to do my homework, so I hesitantly purchased every piece of “required equipment” on those list. Needless to say I spend thousand but nothing was a waste. In that two year process I was able to shoot, process and develop 35mm and 4x5" film. I printed both black & white and color large format printing in dark rooms. While creating digital imagery in photoshop and learning how to print professional quality images on the printers in the digital darkroom. In those two years I nurtured my style, mastered traditional studio portraiture lighting, and built a database of best equipment to use. After almost ten years in the photography industry I know the exact equipment you need in your kit to succeed.
Sorry to break it to you, but having the best camera won’t make you the best photographer, and spending more money on your camera won’t make your pictures “better”. You can take professional images with every medium. Meaning, you can take professional pictures with a disposal film camera, your iPhone, a point and shoot, or a DSLR. It doesn’t matter what kind of camera you use as long as you understand the rules of photography. Every amazing portrait has a few distinctive qualities; great composition, clean lighting, and interesting subject matter. Attention to detail is most important when photographing people, so keep that in mind when purchasing a camera. Remember to purchase the camera that is best for you and can easily take the pictures you are planning on taking. Don’t a purchase something because “they” said it was good. Buy whats best for you and your company in the long run.
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Tripods, monopods and remotes
A tripod can make or break your pictures, invest in a quality tripod when you purchase your camera. Monopods are great for ensuring steady shots with photography and video, while allowing the photographer the ability to change locations quickly. A wireless remote is a photographers secret weapon. Remotes allow you to take professional pictures of yourself, large group portraits, and sharp crisp pictures in low light or while using a slow shutter speed.
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Light stands and reflectors
Think of a light stand as an assistant. Your light stands will either advance your career or break your equipment. You decide that when you make your purchase. Cheap light stands are not stable. They will tip over with the smallest gust of wind, breaking your equipment little by little over time. Invest in quality light stands, and sand bags if necessary. Always have your reflector in your lighting kit. Every photographer should own a 32 inch 5-in-1 Reflector. They will provide amazing light for years to come.
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What is your favorite piece of equipment? What you can’t live without? What do you dream about adding to your camera kit? Let me know in the comments below.
The Portrait Photographer