- Must-Have Gear for Your Growing Photography Business
- Architectural Photography Tips
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photo by Nirut Punshiri via iStock
What photography gear do you consider as must-have photography gear? Ask any dozen professional photographers and you’ll likely get 12 different answers of what’s in their can’t-do-without photography gear list.
We all have our favorite cameras and lenses we prefer for general photography and for special uses. Photography gear that’s often overlooked by photographers wishing to improve their capabilities or perhaps even break into professional photography is often gear that is considered as working in a support category.
A Really Good Tripod
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After the camera and lens options, choosing our primary tripod deserves some deep thinking. A good tripod can sometimes make the difference between being able to capture good shots or resorting to less than perfect workarounds.
Ask yourself what type of photography you generally do and also if there any specialty genres you engage in such as flat lay illustration photography or panoramic photography such as a Google Trusted Photographer. You’ll want to look at tripods that have features supporting the special needs of that style of photography.
I like large tripods for extra stability as a primary tripod, lightweight construction with carbon fiber legs and columns provides the best of both worlds. Not only are carbon fiber tripods lighter than aluminum models of the same size, but they actually have better dampening and are easier to handle in extreme weather, hot or cold.
I also differentiate between tripods for photographic purposes and video tripods since a quality tripod designed specifically for video is better for making movies than adapting a regular tripod with a video head.
photo by lucato via iStock
Shooting with ultra-wide-angle lenses or imaging for real estate or architectural photography is best done with a level camera instead of trying to fix skewed and distorted lines in post. A simple bubble level that fits in the camera hot shoe solves the problem and usually costs about the same as a fast food burger combo. (Unless you're eating in a tourist trap.)
A Well-Built Camera Bag
I know that a camera bag might not fit under the "overlooked items" category, but a well-built bag might...
I see far too many folks carrying their gear in bags that have no business carrying expensive camera equipment.
Heck, when I started out, I crammed my camera and lenses into an old backpack - not a camera backpack, either! So I was guilty of not having a solid camera bag when I was first getting into photography. Not now, though, and you should have a well-built bag too!
I've tested a lot of bags over the years, and only a few have truly impressed me. One such bag is the HEX Ranger DSLR Sling.
This bag is beautifully designed, impeccably built, and has all the features you could want in a camera bag.
We're talking collapsible interior dividers, a front access organizer, side adjustable load strap, and a faux-fur lined pocket for items like your sunglasses or your phone.
And with 8 liters of capacity, you have all the room you need for your kit!
The newer V2 version of this bag adds additional goodies, like a double buckle strap for more sizing options, increased padding on the shoulder pad and the top lid, and a hideaway rain fly for those days when you get caught in the rain.
Perhaps best of all is the price point of this bag...
At less than $100, you really get a lot of bang for your buck. It helps that these bags are easy on the eyes as well!
Curved Screen Monitors
Post processing is an intrinsic part of a professional’s workflow and is also an enjoyable part of many other serious photographer's work. Anything that makes the process better is a welcome addition as photography gear you didn’t know you needed but now that you have it you can’t do without it.
Large, ultrawide, high resolution, curved screen monitors are that time for me (and many other photographers and videographers). The lack of eyestrain and the immersive viewing experience is a big part of that, but the quality of these monitors such as the ViewSonic VP3881 38 inch monitor is even more important in my work.
I have enjoyed ViewSonic brand monitors for a while as a video editing solution, and these brand new curved screen monitors are the best upgrade I’ve made to my editing studio outside of my computer upgrades.
ViewSonic monitors have excellent resolution and are capable of rendering over 4.39 trillion colors for a superior editing session whether editing still images or videos. Other features such as advanced contrast control and tiling multiple programs add to the usefulness of these important photography gear choices.
photo by Lord_Ghost via iStock
Why use a separate spot meter when our cameras have fantastic and ultra sophisticated meters built in? I use a classic Pentax spotmeter for seeing the range of differences in exposure values throughout the scene for deciding on what GND filter to use or whether to shoot in HDR.
Graduated neutral density filters (GND) are a surprisingly useful piece of gear themselves, but deciding on what strengths to use can sometimes cause a little confusion. Being able to see the exact exposure difference in brightest to darkest areas of the scene helps me decide which GND filters to use.
Sometimes the exposure values I read will move instead to use the digital technique of bracket and merge high dynamic range (HDR) photography. My handy, compact spot meter lets me easily and quickly read the scene’s values. A spot meter is also useful for setting up lighting ratios in portrait photography and cinematography.
If you can’t find a classic Pentax model, don’t worry, there are lots of brands and models available, used and new. In addition to Pentax, the brands Minolta, Gossen, and Sekonic have been making several for years. Gossen, Minolta, and Sekonic have spot attachments for some of their regular handheld meters as well.
View Screen Hood
photo by ponsulak via iStock
Whenever using Live View under bright light, which is pretty much every time I shoot video outside, seeing the viewscreen is a challenge. A simple solution for most cameras is a viewscreen hood that blocks out extraneous light.
These are also great for small product photography or for posing fashion, glamour, or boudoir models since I like to use Live View and a wireless remote to ease my shooting workflow. Try it out, you’ll see what I mean in about 8 seconds, just like I did the first time I sceptically tried it.
photo by yalcinsonat1 via iStock
I use a variety of smartphone apps in my photography and videography jobs.
They allow for filling out, signing, saving, and sending model releases, can tell us what time sunrise or sunset is and how long twilight lasts, shows us the moon phases for knowing when to attempt deep sky astrophotography, and can help us find the exact location we’re supposed to be for that shoot.
Old Photography Books
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I love reading older books and magazines about photography, cinematography, and special techniques. Many of these were written during the height of the SLR film era and can teach us a surprising amount of currently relevant information.
Understanding Photography by Carl Shipman from 1974 is one of my favorites. It’s not very slick with illustrations but it is chock full of useful information. This book was written during the height of the film age but most of it still applies to modern digital photography, just not the info on film reciprocity failure.
For videography, a great read is The 5 C’s of Cinematography - Motion Picture Filming Techniques by Joseph Mascelli. Long regarded as one of the premier books for aspiring filmmakers, almost everything in this book is still relevant to digital video cinematography.
Many of these books are available as PDFs, on your Kindle app, or can be found used from various sources.
What’s In YOUR Photography Gear List?
photo by NBedov via iStock
I really want to know.
I can’t tell you how many times a fellow photographer has assisted me in learning something new or in getting better at various aspects of photography and videography. Part of our art and craft, our businesses too, is centered on knowing how to use the right equipment for our needs.
What's in your bag that you can’t do without?