Technically, you can take beautiful photos with any camera and without accessories – but if you want to elevate your photos, there are a few simple gear items you should buy.
This is what this article is about; I share the seven pieces of photographic equipment I highly recommend for beginners, and give tips on how to use each item as well. By the time you’re done, you’ll have a clear list of photo essentials (and you’ll be ready to highlight your next selfie shoot!).
Let’s delve into it.
1. Standard Zoom Lens
Every portrait photographer should have a standard zoom lens in their bag.
For one, standard burs are amazingly versatile. At 35-50 mm, you can take full and half-body photos; At 70mm, you can go for headshots; And at 24-35mm, you can take unique environmental selfies and even group shots. Standard zoom will save you from changing lenses every time you switch gears during a selfie session, and if you’re photographing families, you can take single shots and group shots without changing the lens as well.
Note that you need to be careful when taking selfies on the wide end – they will start to blur, especially when shooting at close range. I like the 35mm for full-body shots, but unless you’re after the creative impact of ultra-wide, be very careful going forward.
My favorite zoom lens spans the 24-70mm on a full-frame camera (and the 24-105mm is great too), but if you’re using an APS-C camera, the 18-55mm lens covers similar ground.
I recommend zooming in with the largest maximum aperture you can tolerate. The f/2.8 lens will allow you to capture beautiful background bokeh, while you’ll struggle to achieve the same effect at f/4, f/5.6 or f/6.3. (If you can’t afford an f/2.8 lens, that’s okay – you can still take beautiful photos. You’ll just have to work harder!)
2. Telephoto zoom lens
Once you have the standard zoom, the next lens to consider is a telephoto zoom, such as 70-200mm f/2.8.
The telephoto zoom is perfect for separating the subject from the background and creating amazing bokeh – in fact, I used a 70-200mm lens to take this shot:
Notice how the subjects seem to come out of the blurry background? This is thanks to the long focal length and relatively wide aperture.
Telephoto zoom is also ideal for capturing headshots, as it allows you to shoot without getting uncomfortably close. And you can also use it to get creative selfies, by shooting through interesting foliage or flowers.
As with wide-angle zoom, wide-aperture telephoto lenses are better than narrow-aperture telephoto lenses. Unfortunately, telephoto lenses with a wide aperture are often the same more More expensive than their wide-angle counterparts, but you can always find 70-200mm f/4 lenses on the secondhand market, especially if you buy older versions.
A less expensive alternative is a telephoto array lens, such as the 55-200mm f/4-5.6 lens. Your visual quality will take a hit, but portraits often look good when a little soft, so that shouldn’t be a deal breaker.
3. At least one fast prime
Fast prime lenses provide a single focal length, such as 50mm or 85mm. And They offer an amazingly wide aperture, like f/1.8 or even f/1.2.
Fortunately, fast primes tend to be cheap (you can often get an 85mm f/1.8 for a few hundred dollars, for example), and they also tend to deliver crystal-clear optics. They’re less flexible than zooms, which is why I recommend carrying the two types of lenses listed above – but primes definitely have their place.
When starting out, don’t go crazy with prime lenses. The 85mm single lens is a good choice, as you can use it for full body, half body and even head shots. Feel free to use the f/1.8 versions, as they provide beautiful background blur, plus you can easily hold the camera in low light (but if you’re really serious about portraiture and need top-notch and/or incredibly low bokeh – versatility Light, consider f/1.4 or f/1.2 versions as well).
The 50mm f/1.8 lens is another cheaper option, and a wider focal length helps when shooting indoors (for example, a small studio), so it’s also worth considering.
By the way, you may be wondering:
When should I use my primes? And when should I use burs?
For quick shots (say, a family session with plenty of ground to cover), zooms will keep the flow and provide composition versatility. But if you’re doing a slower session, start with your standard zoom and then feel free to switch it up to get your head in once you’ve got some great shots!
4. Tripod stand
If you shoot subjects in the studio – especially with blinking lights – a tripod may not be entirely necessary, as you will have complete control over the lighting and can boost power as required. However, it is still useful to have, as you can use it to hold the camera while adjusting the lights, adding props, etc.
And if you are drawing portraits in natural light, a tripod is very useful; You can block any camera movement and take sharper shots in low light.
For studio portraits, you don’t need to invest in a sturdy and portable tripod. As long as your tripod is stable, even if it’s very heavy, it will do the job. However, if you are an outdoor shooter, you will need to get a tripod that can hold your entire device And It can be moved from one location to another without a problem. I highly recommend a carbon fiber model, and although these tripods are quite expensive, they will save you a lot of pain and frustration in the future.
5. Artificial light source
If you take photos with natural light, you can technically ignore this section. However, I encourage all portrait photographers to learn to use artificial light; It is a real game changer and will make you a much more flexible shooter.
Thanks to artificial lighting, you can shoot at any time of the day under any lighting conditions, and it will not depend on sunlight, season or weather.
One tip, though: don’t do Use the flash on the camera. Alternatively, purchase an off-camera flash (eg, a quick flash) to get started. And once you get more serious, consider getting some extra flashlights, some light stands, and even some flashing studio lights.
Will artificial lighting make your photography set less portable? Possibly, although you can create a relatively portable lighting setup with just a few light stands and a quick light. Keep in mind that you do not need to use artificial lighting all the time; Sometimes you can shoot outside in good light, or you can work with a mixture of artificial and natural light.
All of these photos were taken in the studio using carefully placed artificial lighting:
6. Modifiers for your lamps
If you decide to go the artificial lighting route, that’s for sure Important To pair your Speedlights and studio lights with modifiers.
What do rates do? they help directly light, and they also change Quality. Most portrait photographers use modifiers to bring the edge out of their bare blinking lights (for example, attenuating the effect), where modifiers such as softboxes are useful. Some modifiers, such as snoots, will focus the light, while others, such as parachutes, will cast it in every direction.
For more fashion-focused images, the beauty platter is worth considering. I highly recommend researching the different rate options before buying – there are bar, octagon, snout, scrim and much more.
However, if you’re struggling to decide what rate to get, I’d suggest a simple, adequately sized softbox. They’re so versatile, plus they’ll get that pretty diffused, window-lit look. Over time, you can accumulate a range of rates for different occasions (and luckily, the rates are pretty cheap, so you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank).
7. 5 in 1 reflector
Whether you use natural or artificial lighting, reflectors are definitely An essential piece of portrait photography equipment.
Reflectors allow you to cleverly adjust the light so that your selfies look like perfect. For example, you can reflect the light under the chin of the subject to get rid of dark shadows. You can reflect the sunlight in the background to get a nice effect.
And since the 5-in-1 reflectors come with several different reflective colors, you can capture creative effects – like a golden sunset selfie, a midday silver selfie, etc.
Finally, since inverters are so portable, you can carry your 5-in-1 kit everywhere. And if you’re a studio photographer, you’ll also appreciate a reflector, which you can position against light sources to soften any shadows.
(Pro tip: studio photographers, if you have the space, it’s a good idea to have one large reflector propped up on a stand in your studio—here, lockable caster wheels come in handy!)
Essential Photographic Equipment: The Final Words
Now that you’re done with this article, you’re ready to put together your portrait photography kit – and take some amazing shots yourself.
Don’t skimp on lenses, and don’t skimp on photo accessories either. Of course, you don’t need to get it All of these items at once, but I recommend you keep them in mind and get them as soon as possible.
Now to you:
What portrait photography equipment from this list are you planning to buy? Do you have any additional equipment that you think is necessary? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
inspiration – inspiration