Whichever business you decide to start, it will require an initial investment, and photography is no exception. Before you jump into the murky waters of being a professional photographer, there are some items that you must invest in. In this video, John Branch discusses seven essentials that you absolutely must buy before you start your own photography business.
Having a camera probably goes without saying, so John talks about other gear that you must have. Keep in mind that he talks from the perspective of an event photographer, but I think these items are mutual to all photographers. Although, if you shoot landscapes, interior or architecture, I’d definitely also add a tripod to this list. But let’s get started with John’s list.
Since you’ll edit a bunch of photos, you’ll need a good computer. John suggests getting a desktop, and even building your own PC. If you’re an Apple user, John recommends that you buy one of the newer iMacs. Some things to pay attention to are a processor and RAM memory. Make sure to get a recent processor, preferably i7 or i9, and have at least 32 GB RAM. Storage is not that important because you’ll be buying external memory to store your images.
The reason why John prefers desktop to a laptop is that all your stuff is at home and safe. If you bring your laptop with you everywhere, chances are higher that someone would steal it, along with your images. But there’s another thing that I’d like to add here. I don’t know if it’s the same everywhere, but I recently bought a new desktop here in Serbia (I had a friend help me build it). I noticed that you can build a beast of a desktop for a much lower price than buying a laptop with similar specs.
Getting a good glass for your camera is one of the most important things for photography. Your camera doesn’t have to be the best there is, it’s more important to get a good lens. John suggests that you use primes as they’re often sharper and faster, yet they can still be pretty affordable. The kit he suggests is a pair of good wide lenses (18mm and 35mm) a medium 50mm lens, and a longer lens like 85mm, 100mm, or 150mm. Although, I think that you can go with high-quality zooms as well. I find Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Art to be a fantastic lens with a great price-quality ratio. Although, I must admit it’s pretty heavy. Either way, see what works for your genre and make sure to get high-quality lenses.
3. SD cards
SD cards are extremely important because they save all of your photos while using the camera. John advises that you use SanDisk Extreme, 64 or 128 GB max. It’s better to use a few cards with lower capacity than one card with a higher capacity. It’s simple – if a large card gets corrupted, lots of data will be lost. Also, make sure that the speed is at least 95 MB/s.
4. Hard drives + backup
Once you shoot your photos, you need a good backup system to keep them with you forever. John suggests quite an elaborate system. He uses a Gnarbox 2.0 which has an SD card slot, so he can back up his photos on site. Aside from a portable SSD like this, you’ll need a reliable external hard drive, as well as cloud backup. Finally, John also uses Synology disk station for archive-type backup.
John doesn’t use off-camera flash very often, but when he does, he relies on Godox speedlights and strobes. They have a good price-quality ratio, and John notes that they’re very intuitive to use even for those who’re new to flash photography. He uses a Godox V860II-S and AD200. of course, there are plenty of other brands, too.
6. Camera strap
It may sound like a minor thing, but it’s pretty important to choose the right camera strap. For example, if you’re an event or wedding photographer, you may be shooting with two different cameras and lenses simultaneously. You need to choose the strap that will suit your needs best and that will be safe both for your gear and your body.
7. Camera bag
A good camera bag is a necessity for every photographer (although some folks might disagree). Once again, it’s important to choose the camera bag that will be perfect for your needs and for the type and amount of gear that you bring with you. Frankly, I think most photographers have more than one. I know I do: one for travel, one for casual walks with a single camera + lens, and one backpack for those rare occasions when I carry a lot of gear.
Of course, there are also some things money can’t buy that professional photographers need to have. They include a specific mindset and skillset, and if you’ve got these… Well, good luck with your other investments and with starting your business!