It’s Not the Gear, It’s the Photographer

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

I think it’s pretty obvious but equipment doesn’t make portraits, people do. It’s obvious that you’ll need a camera and some kind of light source to shoot portraits but you don’t need a $9,000 Hasselblad X1D-50c to make portraits. Any—and I mean any—camera that takes interchangeable lenses will let you create portraits.

A few years ago, I wrote a post about a portrait shoot I did with a camera and lens that together cost less than $400 and that was with a new camera bought on sale from Amazon. There are also lots of bargains available in used or refurb cameras that you can purchase from camera stores, eBay or Craig’s List.

Don’t let ego determine what kind of camera you buy or use. Recently I talked with an aspiring portrait photographer who’s using a cameras that was introduced four years ago and he told me that when he went to photography meet-ups people disparaged his use of “old” gear.

Don’t let other other people determine how you spend your money. Having too much money tied up in cameras and lights or worse, debt for that gear, will sink a new portrait photographer faster than anything else. You will sell your photographs based on the quality of your work, 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 Panasonic Lumix Gx1.

PS. Think you need the most expensive lighting equipment? The above portrait was made using two LED light bulbs. Yes, I said light light bulbs. It was made for a Shutterbug story I wrote about setting up an in-home studio for less than $200.

light.bookBarry Staver and Joe recently did a podcast about exposure that you can see here. These two guys are co-authors of Better Available Light Digital Photography that’s currently out-of-print but while new copies are available at collector (high) prices you can purchase new copies from some vendors for $19.95 and used copies at giveaway prices—less than seven bucks—from Amazon.