Whether you are just starting your photography career or enjoy it as a hobby, you might be wondering what helpful tools can advance your craft. The possibilities are endless when it comes to purchasing gear but sometimes the most simple and unexpected items in your photo kit can be the most useful.
In my career as a professional photographer, I have captured everything from bustling local restaurants to intimate weddings overseas. I have experimented with different equipment to find what works best for the task at hand. Although there is no one-kit-fits-all, there are a few must-haves for every assignment. Let’s get into what that equipment is and how it can advance your photography.
Ok, this one is a given — you’ll first need a camera! Nikon and Canon are the top brands for professional photographers, but many other excellent competitors on the market, like Sony and Panasonic. I’d recommend going into a camera store to hold different camera bodies and test them out before you make a purchase. You should also list what you are looking for to ask the professionals to guide you in the right direction.
If you prefer a lightweight camera, mirrorless would be a good option for you. If you invest in high-quality for a long-term career in photography, then a full-frame DSLR camera would be the right choice.
Film cameras are also a great option if you enjoy a one-of-a-kind result with a tactile function. My passion for photography grew from disposable cameras and my family’s 35mm Nikon film camera. I love film and all the happy accidents that come with it. Check out yard sales, Kijiji, and a local buy and sells for unique film cameras to test out the medium.
A prime lens is essential for a professional kit. It’s a fixed focal length lens that delivers the sharpest image quality with super fast apertures. The most popular prime lenses are 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, and 100mm. These lenses typically have apertures such as f/1.2 or higher, which is excellent for low light situations and creating that beautiful bokeh effect.
My first lens was a 50mm f/1.8, and I still use it to this day. I love that you have to move around the subject to find unique perspectives rather than just zooming in and out from one vantage point. The beauty of a prime lens is that you’ll continue to use the lens even when you upgrade the camera body.
Don’t forget about using filters to protect your lens! A standard protector filter will do the trick, but it’s also fun to experiment with polarizing, UV, and ND filters.
Tripods are essential for low light situations and to create consistency. They can also help build a diverse skill set to capture interiors, products, long exposures, HDR, and stop motions. Depending on whether you require lightweight, travel-size gear or a sturdy studio set-up, having a tripod can help you feel more confident in tricky lighting situations.
Tip: Search for open box items from camera stores or used tripods online! Adding more equipment can get expensive so search for those deals when possible.
Whether you are taking a camera on a bike ride or attending a large production photoshoot, you’ll need to find a bag that protects your equipment. I like to make sure there is a compartment to hold a water bottle and a laptop. I recommend the Lowepro brand, the bags are reliable, durable and come in many different shapes and sizes. Once you find a style that suits you, make sure it fits your gear comfortably too.
Lens cleaning accessories such as microfiber cloths or dust blowers are essential to maintaining your equipment. These tools are designed to safely remove dust and dirt from cameras, lenses and other equipment. I even like to use the dust blower to clean surfaces while photographing products. This saves a lot of time in post-production. Be careful not to use your clothing to wipe lenses as you could be rubbing dirt and other oils that don’t belong.
This is another purchase I made early on in my career that enhanced countless projects. While lights can be costly, why not use a simple tool that can reflect natural light? You can find reflectors in multiple sizes, and they are typically silver, white, or gold. I also like to use simple black or white foam boards from the local dollar store. You’d be surprised by all the valuable equipment you can find there, including clamps, sticky tack, and coloured backgrounds.
Did someone say backgrounds? That’s right, your local craft or dollar store usually has a variety of colours to choose from to make budget-friendly photo backgrounds. If you are photographing portraits at full-length, then consider purchasing a seamless paper backdrop.
You can also utilize your natural environment for unique and colourful background options! Think textured walls, abstract graffiti alleys, and bright blue skies.
Although this isn’t a physical piece of equipment, the software is just as crucial as it organizes and allows you to edit your images. The Adobe Creative Suite is the industry standard for photo editing. Lightroom is a user-friendly and well-rounded editing tool, whereas Photoshop is designed for intensive retouching. There is a monthly service fee but consider it an investment because the experience and programming quality is unmatched.
Natural light is ideal but not always available. To make sure that you can capture great photos at any time, you can try an external flash. Experimenting with flash can help change the mood of your entire photograph. It can enhance the sharpness and detail of your subject or provide additional brightness to any scene. I frequently use a flash as a fill light for portraits and create dynamic lighting for product photography.
The creative capabilities of photography are endless and only limited to your imagination. Find the equipment that works best for you and keep experimenting to continue to grow. If you are looking to feed your inspiration, check out our custom branded photography services. Have fun creating!2