top of page

How to Start a Photography Business - Tip #3 Don’t Worry About Gear and Presets

When I first began my business, I was obsessed with two things: camera gear and Lightroom. I thought that the right lens, the best camera, and a few good presets would turn me into a pro. In fact, every article I read during those first few years was all about gear.

But there’s a reason I wrote a post about gear for my third tip and not my first.

Your camera is just a tool.

Lightroom and Photoshop are just tools.

A bag of amazing lenses and tons of purchased presets and actions–that just means you have a lot of tools.

Great gear won’t make you a professional just like having an amazing drill or circular saw won’t make you a great carpenter.

Practice and knowledge make you a professional. Knowing how to get the most out of your toolbox makes you a professional.

My gear bag hasn’t changed in years. I have the tools I need, and I know how to use them. In fact, I have plenty of tools that collect dust because I just don’t need them. I can make great portraits with a basic setup.

(Also, I don’t use presets. I haven’t for years. No amount of presets or editing will save a bad photo.)

My Gear Recommendations

All of that said, I’m sure you’re curious about what gear I would recommend for someone just starting out.

Any basic DSLR or Mirrorless camera will get the job done. You don’t need the newest and best camera body. For years I used a Canon Rebel t5i. I upgraded to a full-frame sensor Canon 6D a few years into business, and that’s what I’ve been using ever since. I am using camera technology that is over ten years old, and I still get amazing results. Just starting out? Any camera body will do these days–the technology is that good.

If you feel like your camera body is holding you back, ask yourself why? Do you actually know what features on the new camera would be life-changing for your photography? Or are you looking for an external solution to an internal problem? Maybe you’re just stuck in a rut and need a new project. Or maybe you haven’t truly learned how to use your current camera. Don’t spend thousands of dollars when a new project or a little education could give you a new perspective.

Camera bodies aren’t really where you need to focus, anyway.

Camera lenses make all the difference. One good lens can completely change things. If you are going to invest upfront in gear, buy one good lens.

And if you are going to create portraits, get the best 24-70mm lens that you can. A 24-70 is a work-horse. The focal range is perfect for just about any kind of everyday portraiture. (If you plan on doing weddings, you’ll need a longer focal length lens, too. A 70-200mm is typically the way to go for that need.)

I do 75% of my work with the Canon 24-70mm L-series lens on my DSLR. I have three other lenses, and I take them out for special reasons or to shake up my routine, but I always go back to the 24-70. It’s just that good.

Beyond that, I really don’t have much gear advice. Don’t obsess over gear. Education and practice are a much better investment than another piece of plastic or glass.

For a more detailed breakdown of everything I use, check out this blog about how I run a studio out of a small room in my home.