Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Photography - How to Succeed Part III

This is the third part on succeeding as a photographer. The question I am always getting is what equipment and tools should I buy. Canon or Nikon is coming out with a new whiz-bang gizmo, should I buy it? In short, probably not. I am not going to recommend brands, because as long as you stick to the major manufacturers it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference in the long run.

First off are cameras. The body you choose depends on what you will actually be shooting. Shooting action sports a camera with decent frame rate should be considered. Also read up on focus speed and tracking. Portraits low light may be important, so look at noise levels for these images. In the end a lot of photographers choose a camera which does well in both areas, but isn’t the best at any. Another option is two cameras, one suited for each style.

Eventually you will want to have two cameras. As a professional you need to have a back-up available. In the beginning I suggest renting your back-up camera until revenues justify owning a second. Also remember your back-up does not need to be the same model as your primary. A lower end camera can work fine.

Which brand of camera should you use? If you know other photographers, using the same brand could be beneficial. You have the ability to possibly borrow a lens for flash in an emergency if you use the same gear. Also you will have someone to ask questions.

Lenses are another area of debate. A prime vs. zooms is the one of the biggest questions. Primes almost always give better results than zooms. But in the real world, it can be very difficult to tell if you have good zooms. The most important thing is to buy good lenses. You will have them for a long time, whereas camera bodies in the digital world have become consumables unfortunately. Again, rent the specialty lenses as you need them.

Lighting completes the picture. Reflectors and bounce cards are your friend. Learn to use them and you will need fewer lights. If you are shooting outside the studio you need a good on camera flash. Lots of modifiers are available read reviews and get one you like, or make one. Also the ability to use your flash off camera will come in handy, so consider this as a future upgrade – brackets with cords or wireless remotes for longer distances.

In studio you can do a lot with just two lights, especially with the use of reflectors and a few modifiers. Umbrellas are the lowest cost for starters, but softboxes tend to be the favorites. Get some decent stands and some sandbags to keep the lights from falling over. Once again look at wireless remotes. Some lights have them built-in. Again this equipment can be rented as needed when you are starting out.

In fact renting a studio is a good idea when starting. A studio is a huge overhead. Many studios rent to other photographers, and some cities have studios that only exist for rental purposes.

Insurance is probably one of the most important items that photographers overlook. You need to not only insure your equipment, but also have liability insurance. You may be able to add onto your home owner’s policy when you start out.

The biggest equipment area is spending. Don’t buy until you can justify with revenue. If you don’t manage your money, there will be no money to manage.

Next week I will continue this discussion and talk about computers, software and organizations.

Orcatek Photography - Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix Area Photograph Studio Rental

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