Note: This post has been updated. See the latest here.
As many of you know, I’m a portrait and fashion photographer. Although I don’t mention much about that side of my life on this blog, working as a photographer does consume a large part of my life and time and was my main source of income (and therapy if we’re being honest) throughout college. I’ve been blessed with opportunities to work with models and prestigious agencies but I also spend a good chunk of time doing graduation and engagement sessions. This is the first part of a couple of posts about photography, we’ll start with the gear I shoot with and you can expect posts such as “Tips for Capturing Better Portraits” and “Editing Like a Pro” soon. So who is this post for? Maybe the experienced photographer who is just curious about another’s gear set, perhaps an amateur photographer building theirs up, or even someone who doesn’t even have a camera but is interested in getting into photography. I’ll try my best to explain what I use and why and other options! I use photography to express myself and I truly do love what I do. Although the point of this post isn’t to showcase my work, you can see some below or at my photography portfolio.
Seeing my work is not what you came for but I wanted to make the point that although I shoot a diverse portrait set, my gear ultimately remains the same. I really want to stress the point that that the kind of camera you have does not make a photo great. It’s really about your vision and your ability to execute it. That’s why I’m such a fan of what people can do with their iPhones these days. Additionally and related to this point, it’s more worth your dime to invest in a better lens than a better camera body.
PS: Clicking any of these links will take you to their Amazon page since that’s where I buy most of my photography equipment.
A camera “body” is what you call a DSLR without a lens attached to it. You can purchase a DSLR as “body-only” or with a couple of lenses. When I upgraded to the camera I have now, I purchased it body-only since I had a stock of lens. I currently shoot with a Canon 7D, but I previously owned a Canon T3i, and before that a Canon T1i.
What should you purchase if you’re starting out? Nikon vs. Canon? All of that is up to you. I typically recommend starting with the Canon Rebel series.
Now this is the interesting part! I shoot with a Canon 35mm f/1.4 L Series, Canon 24 – 70mm f/2.8 II L Series, Canon 50mm f/1.4, and Canon 85mm f/1.8. I shoot with the first two lenses the most mainly because they cost an arm and a leg, but for good reason. They’re fast, sharp, and result in excellent quality photos. I’m a big fan of prime lenses (lenses that don’t zoom) because I believe the best form of zoom are your legs! If you’re starting out, I would recommend quickly ditching the kit lens that came with your camera, that 18 – 55mm rubbish, and starting out with a 50mm f/1.8. Even though I’ve upgraded to it’s pricier sibling, it will forever be my favorite lens because of what you get for the price. It’s about $100 and you’ll immediately notice the difference in the quality of your photos. The lower the f stop the lens offers, the more depth of field. So uhhh… more background blur is the easy way of putting it.
Your camera bag is important. Because as you start accumulating gear, you’re going to be packing thousands of dollars worth of equipment and you want to keep them safe and portable. I have a camera bag I bought 7 years ago that’s discontinued but if you stick around to the end of this post, you’ll find an Amazon list I made of everything I mentioned plus additional options for things like bags.
I keep a Moleskine notebook in my camera bag just to take notes before and during shoots and to record my inspiration. This is of course totally optional and just something I do. I use an Amazon Basics Tripod, but I almost never use it so I’m glad it was cheap. Back in the day of self portraits, a wireless remote came in handy such as this one. I also keep my iPhone on hand for behind the scene shots and to play some tunes from Pandora or Spotify to ease up tense models/clients.
I bought my Canon 7D during my first internship in Phoenix, AZ which was almost 4 years ago. Although it’s still perfectly functional, for the sake of liking new toys, I’m probably grabbing a Canon 6D or the Canon 5D Mark III later this year.
This has definitely been one of the lengthiest posts I’ve written but I hope it was helpful to someone, somewhere. To make referencing this a lot easier, I created an Amazon store/list with all the items mentioned here.
What is in your camera bag or on your wishlist? I’m also opening up the comment section to be the haven to any photography related questions you may have for me, ask away and I’ll try to respond asap!