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Invest In Quality Lighting


lighting shot
Good quality equipment like this Alien Bees B400 will give you good service for many years.

Last time we talked about the habit of amateur photographers and even a few pros, to fret incessantly about minor differences in cameras.

For many people new to the business, if they have a $5,000 equipment budget, they’re going to put $4,999.99 of it into the camera. Personally, I think that’s a mistake.

You do want to spend enough to get a good quality camera. These days that’s anywhere from $1,800 to $2,800. After that you spend geometrically more money for incremental improvements in quality.

This next part may sound like heresy to some, but I would get a good quality kit lens with the camera and start with that. Glass lust is a lifetime commitment and one should really spend some time reading photography forums before deciding where to put your big money in glass. Kit lenses won’t win any awards, but they’re decent.

With a limited budget I would put both my learning effort and extra cash into good quality lighting. I can almost hear people groan inwardly when I say that. Lighting is probably the least sexy yet most important element of good photography. Lighting forums are almost always the most lightly trafficked, except by food photographers who are, for the most part, absolute freaks about lighting. I once had a food photographer ask me to back up from where I was standing, 10 feet away from the set, because my dark shirt was spoiling the “mood” of the lighting. Okay, whatever.

Spend some time learning about lighting. Start with a class on lighting or at least a decent book on the subject. Start with a mix of studio and portable lighting, these days if you’re careful you can find lights that work well in both inside and out.

I know it’s not sexy, but lighting is to photography what paint is to artist. Light is the essence of great photography.

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