Your Photo Gear Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

Let’s get this out of the way first: Equipment doesn’t make portraits, people do. To shoot a portrait, it’s obvious that you’ll need a camera and some kind of light source, even if it’s just two LED light bulbs, as was the case in today’s featured image. But you don’t need a $47,995 Hasselblad H6D-400c to make portraits. Any, and I mean any, camera that takes interchangeable lenses will let you create salable portraits.

How I made this shot: The portrait at right was made with a 18-megapixel Canon EOS 60D that cost a little over $1000 when it was new but now can be found for less than $700 used. The lens was the redoubtable EF 85mm f/1.8 USM, a consumer level lens that’s has a plastic body and a metal mount that I paid $369 for when new and now is selling for $269. Exposure from two Home Depot LED light bulbs used with Gary Fong’s Lightbulb Adapter Kit was 1/50 sec at f/1.8 and ISO 800.

There are lots of bargains available in used or refurb cameras that you can purchase from camera stores, eBay, Craig’s List and even from the manufacturer itself. A while ago, I wrote a post about a portrait shoot I did with an entry level mirrorless camera. A newer but refurb version of the Olympus E-M10 I used for that post is available, as I write this, for $389—with a 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.

Recently I talked with an aspiring portrait photographer who shoots with a Nikon DSLR that was new four years ago and he told me that when he went to photography meet-ups, people disparaged his use of “old” gear. My advice: Don’t let other other people, especially other photographers, determine how you spend your money. Having too much money tied up in cameras and lights or worse, debt for all that gear will sink a new portrait photographer faster than anything else. You should sell your photographs based on the quality of your work and well as your personality and business ethics. The truth is that if your clients like their photographs and you, they don’t care if you shoot with a Pentax K1000.


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Model Pamela Simpson is featured on the cover of my book Posing for Portrait & Glamour Photography and you can see more of her and learn about my posing techniques in this book’s 159 pages. New books are available from Amazon.com for $18.96, with used copies starting at $17.88, as I write this. The Kindle version is $11.99 for those preferring a digital format.