So you bought yourself a fancy camera, tinkered with it a bit, and discovered a deep interest in photography. And now you’ve decided that you want to invest money into this new hobby or even business venture of yours? Well I’m happy to help! Below is a no BS list of what I believe to be important starting equipment for those who want to pursue a hobby in photography and are still in that experimental phase, looking into all genres of photography - based on my personal experience.
*Important Note* All the gear below will come with a suggested purchase destination, however, I highly recommend you find the cheapest brand you can online, do not even think of searching for ‘quality’. Why? Because, assuming you are still a newbie in your experimental phase, you do NOT want to invest good money in something that you might end up only using a couple times. I speak from experience. Consider this phase to be your college years, you’re likely to change your major once or twice.. However be sure it has good reviews. I hardly ever purchase anything with less than 4.5 stars.
1- 50mm f/1.8
This is one item nearly every photog will recommend to a newbie. It is just a fantastic beginners lens. This was my very first lens purchase and I never regretted it. Why is it so vital? This lens, assuming you have nothing but kit lenses, will introduce you to the amazing world of large (aka Fast) apertures and prime lenses. Prime means that it does not zoom, and is fixed at a single focal length. This may sound useless and crippling at first, but truth is, prime lenses are always the way to go. Prime lenses typically have far less glass than zoom lenses, therefore are greatly sharper. The large aperture also gives your photo a huge depth of field, meaning objects behind and in front of the subject in focus have a much greater blur (aka Bokeh), and everyone loves bokeh! This lens is great for all genres of photography is an awesome investment for only ~$100 (super inexpensive for a lens worth buying)
Canon or Nikon
2- Extra Batteries and Memory cards
Now I admit this one is pretty obvious and uninspired, but again, this is based on personal experience. If you plan on doing work for anyone, whether its a full wedding or a small family session, there is no worse feeling than getting to your destination, meeting with your client, and realizing that you have to cancel everything on the spot. ALWAYS have a spare. I recommend Trandscend for the memory card grand. I’ve bought at least ten and I haven’t had an issue with either (I like to switch them out after a year of use). Be sure to get a speed class 10 or 30mb/sec. As for batteries, I suggest searching amazon for “[your camera brand and model] battery”. Be sure to check the reviews on the battery before purchasing as there are a lot of after market batteries that may be compatible with your camera, but won’t communicate with its software, thus never telling you how much power the battery has.
3- Cheap Speedlite and light triggers
Why do I specify cheap speedlite? Because I have a cheap one that’s given me all that I’ve needed for the past 3 years. However, I haven’t had the same luck with triggers, I still recommend you start with an inexpensive variation. A speedlite is basically a more powerful flash that you can put on your camera or hook up to a trigger and use wirelessly. Why should you have it? All you do when you take a picture is capture light. Now imagine adding your own light, or controlling the light all-together. Thats what a speedlite will allow you to do. There’s so many ways you can use it to create all kinds of different effects. I use this one, YN560 Flash. Its been great and very simple to use. I The triggers I’ve used tend to be iffy. I recommend search amazon for an inexpensive pair of “wireless flash triggers”.
Here’s another unoriginal suggestion. Most of you probably already own one. For those of you who do not, allow me to explain why you should have one. I use to think tripods were useless unless I was trying to do self portraits. “All you need is a steady hand and a fast shutter speed, tripods are super outdated”. And then I discovered the amazing art of Long Exposure Photography. If you haven’t heard of it yet, it’s when you slow down your shutter speed to not only capture light, but the movement of light. Ever see photos of a highway at night with long streaks of light? That is a form of Long Exposure, and unless you want your photo to come out blurry, you’re going to need a tripod to keep your camera completely still. $15 one here
5- Good Source of Inspiration
In the beginning, you are not original. You can argue with me on this one, but I will win. The way we learn how to do things best is by looking to the ones who have already done it before. In other words, inspiration. Even today, I like to challenge my creativity and choose an awesome photo I find online and try to replicate it as best I can. This is nothing to be ashamed about, handson is the best learning method. You will develop your originality as you learn. you can try googling types of photography that you’re interested in, or go on pinterest where there are a few basic tutorials for beginners, But I highly recommend 500px.com. It’s a popular online platform mostly comprised of professional photographers who post their work in specific categories with helpful tags, so it’s really easy to find what you’re looking for. Best part is that most of the photos are posted with their exif data, meaning that it’ll tell you the exact camera, lens, settings the camera was on when the photo was taken. This is a SUPER helpful tool.
6- Photo Editing Software
I know of a lot of beginning photographers who refused to use or even try photo editing software. They would always say “My photos are already good and don’t need editing”, to which I would reply, “Wouldn’t you want them to be better?” and then I’d laugh hysterically when they’re gone. Photo editing has been around since its been an artform, when all we had was film. It is is no form, “cheating”. If you become very serious about photography, you will eventually learn to edit your photos, whether you’re photoshopping an entire background in, or just increasing the exposure. Starting your photo editing skills sooner than later will only do you good in the long run. I personally use Lightroom. A very popular alternative is Aperture, which is popular with Mac users. If you’re looking for something for something free with a torrent download, I hear LightZone has some good reviews!
7- Amazon Prime (no, I’m not being paid to write this)
As you may have noticed by reading the suggestions above, I’m a fan of Amazon. It has super reliable reviews, many with photos of the product, and has awesome return policy. 90% of all my equipment came from Amazon. It’s Amazon Prime feature, with an annual fee, provides free 2-day shipping on tons of products, among some other cool perks. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars and a lot of time using amazon prime. Best part is that students get 50% off. Check it out here: Amazon Prime
Thanks for reading guys!