Starting off in photography can be a very painful and stressful experience if you don’t know where to start. You’ve seen plenty of videos, read plenty of forums, but you still have no idea what gear to invest in at first so that you can get the high quality images you desire. Luckily, you found this page. I’ve been where you are and it can be a mind boggling thing to go online or to a store and try to decide what is essential to buy now and what can wait. Here’s 6 things you MUST have as a beginner photographer.
1. A Camera
Well Duh! Of course you need a camera, but is an iPhone enough? I am a firm believer that if you want to get into photography and take it seriously you need to buy a Digital Single-Lens Reflex camera or a DSLR. Why? Because a DSLR is what the pro’s use and they use them for a reason. High quality bodies, a large variety of lenses, sufficient amount of megapixels even at the cheapest of levels and the freedom to adjust settings and take thousands of photos until you get the hang of it.
A DSLR can be very expensive but luckily brands like Nikon, Canon and even Sony now have selections in the $300-$500 range that do more than enough to get you started and keep you on the road to greatness. With full manual controls you can practice and and change the ISO, aperture and shutter speed quickly to see different results, you can immediately check your photos on the LCD screen in the back AND if you don’t like the result you can shoot a hundred more photos in the blink of an eye.
2. A Tripod
A tripod is a must have for any photographer. Whether it be for low light or self portraits, a tripod will keep your camera steady to avoid camera shake or so that you can run to the other side of the lens and strike a few poses.
Tripods open the door to long exposure photographs as well. Where you can create motion blur with cars passing by or aim for the night sky to catch a shooting star. There are hundreds of affordable, lightweight tripods out in the market of all sizes so just find the one that fits your needs.
3. A Hard Drive
There’s no way I could properly emphasize how important it is to have a backup of all your photos. The amount of times I’ve heard about a fellow photographer losing their photos is insane. As soon as you can go and get yourself a hard drive or some sort of backup disk. Typically Seagate has affordable and reliable hard drives you can buy on Amazon or your local electronics store. They’re also extremely easy to use. You just need to plug it into your computer via USB and click and drag all the files you want to be saved on it. You never know when your computer may fail, when you’ll spill water or when some crazy thing will happen that can cause you to lose your data.
4. A Cleaning Kit
So you’ve spent all this money on new equipment, it’s only logical to spend a little more in order to maintain it. If you look at photographers like Alex Luyckx or Cassandra Klos they still use film cameras such as the Nikon FM2 or 4X5 format respectively. A nice camera can last you a long time if, that’s right you guessed it, it’s properly taken care of.
I’d recommend buying a kit that at least comes with an air blower, a microfiber cloth, a lens cleaning pen and some lens wipes. It’s not necessary to clean it every time you go out (unless you’re constantly shooting in the desert or anyplace with sediment flying around) but get into the habit of cleaning it every couple weeks. This way you not only avoid smudgy pictures but you avoid your camera getting damaged.
5. A Camera Bag
This doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but with all that new equipment you’re going to want something to carry it around and store it in. I would say try to get a water resistant one just in case you get stuck out in the rain but just focus on having something to safely keep your camera in. You can find these online in places such as Amazon or Adorama, or maybe try visiting your local photo store.
I know, no one likes to be told to be patient and no one really likes waiting, but as a photographer patience is everything. If you want to shoot wildlife you need to be willing to spend time in the wild and familiarize yourself with your surroundings and the animals. If you’re shooting star trails you’re gonna have to wait hours to get those long exposure shots. Most importantly if you’re a beginner you’re going to have to practice and practice to eventually get the images you strive to capture. You’re first sunset photo may not be an award winner, but with some patience and a lot of practice, before you know it you’ll be the next Paul Reiffer.