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Equipment for professional portrait photography


User_Removed 11 3.3k 4 United Kingdom
4 Aug 2011 6:48PM
Good for you Catherine.

Have you got any budget for equipment? Even a modest lens like a Sigma 24-70 is hundreds of pounds. You'll pay another 300 quid for a lighting kit. Get the lens first and learn how to use it in natural light (maybe get a reflector). Get your first prints done online or even at Asda. Is there some reason (chasing a grant?) that you want to price/buy everything at once?

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BigRick 9 2.1k 3 United Kingdom
4 Aug 2011 7:21PM

Quote:Wow!! So much information! I only have a Nilkon D3000 with standard 18-55mm lens. I currently use photoshop cs5 to edit my shots. That's about it really. I will take note of all your comments and use your links for further info. Thanks very much to you all. :0)


i would have used the 650 you spent on cs5 to buy a better lens, and used elements instead.
mikehit Plus
5 7.3k 11 United Kingdom
4 Aug 2011 7:36PM

Quote:My Nikon D3000 lens doesn't really do the job.


That is one of those anodyne phrases that inexperienced people often use. What do you mean: do you need a longer focal length? Is picture quality below what you want? Do you need a wider aperture?
Even kit lenses give very good quality nowadays so think very carefully about what it is you want.


Quote:I want to make sure I have the right equipment


You need surprisingly little. You need to prioritise according to what you would like to do that your current kit won't let you do (or, as is often the case, new kit would enable you to do more easily).
samfurlong 8 2.5k United Kingdom
4 Aug 2011 8:22PM
For the style of nice outdoor portraits you do (seen the ones in your p/f) I would recommend to you a D3 with a Nikon 24-70 2.8 and a 70-200 2.8 zoom, a good SB900 flashgun for some fill flash. A backup camera would be handy - if you can stretch to another D3 then you can use them side by side with a different lens on each which will help keep the shoot flowing and avoid you having to stop all the time to chop and change lenses.
Other useful stuff for when you need a bit more flash power could be some small portable light stands and a small location flash system and some pocketwizards to trigger it (the Elinchrom Quadra range is brilliant).

If you are seriously going to do this professionally then my advice is not to waste your time and money with lesser gear. Sigma zooms which have similar paper spec to the nikon equivalent but are a shade under half the price are a waste of time. Fine for a hobby but if it's the tool of your trade then don't muck about. Sooner or later it WILL break, or youy WILL discover the limitations of it and upgrade anyway. Professionals all use professional kit for a reason and I assure you it is NOT to look cool. If I could do my job with 500 worth of kit then I would, instead I have a car boot full of 20,000 worth of stuff and to be honest I can think on a few ways I would rather spend 19,500 than big chunking heavy cameras and lenses.

If you do genuinely have orders for paying work coming in then bite the bullet, raise the cash and spend what you need on kit.
DT01 6 69
5 Aug 2011 12:32AM

Quote:I personally think you'd be mad to want to try and setup a business like this in the current climate...


there's a guy 'north of the border' who has opened 4 studios in the last 18 months and is doing some spectacular sales figures....if you get the formula right, it can work, as this chap has proven.
monkeygrip 6 574 6 England
5 Aug 2011 11:24AM

Quote:I personally think you'd be mad to want to try and setup a business like this in the current climate...


I quit my job and started my photography business 2 years ago when the world started to fall apart a lot of people questioned my sanity but I am lucky enough to be very busy and have plenty of work booked in the future I have worked hard listend to loads of advice and yes got lucky with work once or twice but if you can make your business work now you know you are doing something right.

And yes sometimes I do wish I could go back my old job for a rest Wink
5 Aug 2011 9:39PM

Quote:I only have a Nikon D3000 with standard 18-55mm lens. I currently use photoshop cs5 to edit my shots.

Whilst far from ideal for professional portrait work the camera and lens you have are capable of excellent quality portraits with the lens around f11 and ideally 55mm zoom setting.
My advice is prove you can get excellent quality with what you have - if not buying equipment will not make you a better photographer.
See if your local library has any Jane Bown portrait books. All she used was an OM1 and 50mm lens, B&W film and natural light.
This was enough equipment to be the portrait photographer for the Observer for more than 40 years.

Apart from not having a lens with an f1.8 aperture your equipment can take as good a picture as she took week in week out.
scottishphototours 11 2.6k 2 Scotland
5 Aug 2011 11:28PM

Quote:I personally think you'd be mad to want to try and setup a business like this in the current climate...

there's a guy 'north of the border' who has opened 4 studios in the last 18 months and is doing some spectacular sales figures....if you get the formula right, it can work, as this chap has proven.



Who's this then?? - show us a link to the info and his sales figures, would be interested to see...
DT01 6 69
6 Aug 2011 12:36AM
He's very active in another (photography business) forum. While he's very open with his info, I'm not sure it's for me to be quoting the specifics of his business on a forum that he's not on. Having followed his progress over the last year or so, I've no reason to doubt his claims.

His studios are in Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Glasgow....I'm sure Google can fill in the gaps...
indemnity 6 331
6 Aug 2011 12:58AM
Don't like saying this, and it is not intended to be rude....but, reading the OP, better gear does not equal better pics. You are busy, you're obviously doing certain things right. Might be best to understand the equipment you have and what it is capable of. Pointless buying studio flash and modifiers if you haven't used, or don't know how to use them. Editing skills is some thing else. Might be an idea to spend time on skill sets first, you'll soon work out what equipment would then best suit purpose.
Carabosse Plus
11 39.7k 269 England
6 Aug 2011 1:14AM
So what have you decided to get? Smile
thewilliam 6 4.9k
6 Aug 2011 11:12AM
A truly competent photographer can create stunning pix with simple but good-quality camera gear.

Jane Bown has already been mentioned but there's also my departed friend Joan Wakelin who won a Pullitzer prize for her shots of the Vietnamese boat people, taken with a compact. They were excluding photojournalists from the camp, but Joan was allowed to enter because she didn't arouse any suspicions. Both truly great photographers.

You don't need a huge amount of kit, but it does have to be chosen carefully.
7 Aug 2011 2:12PM
Ok, thanks for all of your helpful comments. I am deciding to stick with what I've got for the meantime and to keep pushing myself to learn more about my current camera and how to use it to it's full potential. Then sometime in the near future I am going to look at a couple of new lenses. You've all been a great help. :0)
11 Aug 2011 8:50AM

Quote:I am deciding to stick with what I've got for the meantime and to keep pushing myself to learn more about my current camera and how to use it to it's full potential.

A wise move Smile
The suggestion you should get 2 D3's, 2 pro lenses and an SB900 combined new price over 10,000 before you have assessed whether or not you can turnover 1,000 every month (net profit likely less than 500 a month) is not one I would make.
NEWDIGIT 3 401 United Kingdom
18 Aug 2011 8:47AM
Loads of helpful advice from everyone so good luck hope it goes well for you.
The best advice I got from a freind who was a very succesful pro sadly now deceased is the best shots come when you have taken the time to get to know your subject and your client.
He gave as an example kids, talk to the parents as they may have allready got favourite photos so you see what they like, and play with the kids to relax them

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