I thought it would be helpful to create a resource page that you can always come to for all of your portrait photography business needs. I’ll add to it as I learn more, but you’ll notice that in the future I will reference this page quite often. I recommend bookmarking it for your reference and convenience. Enjoy!
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase. Please understand that I have experience with all of these products or companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.
- Nikon D90 12.3 MP With 18mm to 105mm Lens: This is the current camera we use which all the images we share on this blog are from. We love this camera.
- Nikon D90 12.3 MP Body Only: If you already have Nikon lenses, you only need the camera body.
- Nikon D7000 Body And 18mm to 105mm Lens: This is the D90 replacement. You can still grab a D90 camera, but Nikon is now producing the D7000 as it’s replacement. This camera has a few more Mega Pixels and some extra bells and whistles.
- Nikon D7000 Body Only: Once again if you already have lenses, you can purchase the body only and save some cash.
- Nikon D700 12.1 MP Full Frame Censor: This is the camera that Joe Marshall uses and loves it. I personally don’t need the full frame censor. But…if you want every pixel possible…this camera delivers.
- Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor Lens: This lens is one of my favorites. It’s compact…but delivers razor sharp images with awesome shallow depth of field. Plus…it’s very affordable. I think everyone should have this in their tool bag.
- Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II Telephoto Zoom Lens: This lens will allow you to use it in the studio and at sporting events, so you can zoom in on those action shot.Plus…it has Vibration Reduction built in to help with hand holding and keeping your shots sharp.
- Nikon 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5D Autofocus Zoom Nikkor Lens: This is the very first lens we purchased when getting started over 12 years ago. We still use this lens from time to time.
Flash & Lighting Equipment
- Nikon SB-600 Speedlight Flash: This is the only flash we ever use for fill flash and adding some extra punch. It swivels so you can bounce and direct the light to create little or no shadow. Even though your camera comes with a pop up flash…you should avoid using it. Every professional uses the on top of camera flash like the SB600.
- Alien Bee Studio Strobes – B400: We own 2 of these strobes and use these for all our studio portraits. Joe Marshall has used these for over 25 years and loves them too. The quality is great and your portraits will show by the results.
- CyberSync: This allows you to control your lights wireless. I have been using these by Alien Bee for a few years now and they have been very reliable.
- Sekonic L-358 – I personally still use an old off brand I purchased from B&H Photo over 10 years. But…I have my eye on this one because Joe Marshall speaks highly of it and he used it in our EzFlashPhotography course. It will do everything you need and more!
- Orbis Ring Flash – Joe shot a video of him unboxing this flash unit and showing how it works. This flash gives a nice soft shadow and provides a pleasing natural look.
Softbox & Light Diffusers
- Photek 60″ Softlighter With Diffuser Umbrella: We have used this as our main light source for years. It’s a large round softbox and wraps the light around the subject. This creates a soft flattering light with round catch lights in the eyes. They do sell smaller versions…but the larger the better in my book.
- Fotodiox Pro Softbox Softbox, 32″x48″ With Alien Bee Speed Ring: I recently added this to our tool bag. I wanted something smaller for different lighting recipes. This was a great find and offers some nice soft lighting. It also attaches to my Alien Bee strobes with the included speed Ring and folds up super easy.
- Pro Studio Solutions EZ Pro Strip Box softbox 12″x56″ With Alien Bee Speed Ring: I was introduced to this strip box by Joe Marshall when we created our Ez Flash Photography Workshop. I’ve been now using this for my background light and or hair light. This strip box has so many uses that I don’t know how I shot without it.
- Westcott 301 Photo Basics 40-Inch 5-in-1 Reflector: Reflectors are one of the simplest things to use that will improve your portrait lighting. This helps to fill in shadows, block the sun and bounce the light to use your fill light. I have used 1 light and 1 reflector to create some really nice portraits. Everyone should own these from day 1.
- Westcott 7ft Light or Reflector Stands: This is what I use for my studio lights and reflector stands. You want to make sure these are easy to adjust and breakdown when moving from location to location.
Backdrops & Stands
- Basic 10 x20 White Backdrop: Every studio should own a white background. You can use this for Hi-Key portraits or when you want to extract your subject when doing Digital Creations. We like using Muslin because it’s light weight and easy to store. This is another must haves when first getting started.
- Basic 10 x20 Black Backdrop: Just like owning a white backdrop…you should own a black one too. You can create nice simple low key portraits for an entire different look.
- Green Screen 10 x 20 Backdrop: This is what we photograph against when doing extractions using Green Screen.
- Heavy Duty Portable Backdrop Stand: This is the current stand we use for studio work. One of the things I looked at when purchasing my background stand was being able to break it down and transport it. Sure…you could always build yourself a stand out of pipe, but this stand is very affordable and looks professional too.
Unique Clothing – Hats – Headbands and MORE!
Computer & Hardware
- Apple 20″ iMac – The New One is 21.5″: This is Lisa’s workstation that she uses for everyday use and all Photoshop editing. It’s about 2 years old…so I guess it’s old, but it still works well. She’s happy with it.
- Apple Mac Mini: This is my computer that I use for all video and photo editing. It’s small and compact, but super powerful. I had to upgrade from my Mac Power House G5 and this computer has been great.
- iPad 2: This was purchased so I could take it during travel. I don’t do any real editing with it…but it’s a great tool to use for a swipe file of posing ideas or to communicate with clients while away from my office. Plus…the kids love it
- Lacie External Hard Drive 2 TB: I have 2 of these backing up both computers on a daily basis. Everyone should be backing up their computers daily. I learned the hard way back in 2010 and now I never miss a day.
Editing Software & Plugins
- Photoshop CS5: I have been using Photoshop for over 10 years now and started with version 6. I believe that every photographer needs to learn and use Photoshop to get the most out of their photography. Once you own a version you can upgrade for a huge discount.
- Photoshop CS5 – Student or Teacher Addition: If you are a teacher or a student you may qualify for a special discount.
- Photoshop CS5 – Upgrade: In order to use the upgrade you will need an old version that you have previously registered through Adobe.
- Photoshop Elements 11: I have used PS Elements versions 6,7 and 8. This is the latest version and is a good start if you can’t afford the full version.
Website & Blog Creation
- Domain Names by GoDaddy.com: When creating a website you will need a domain name, which is your business name. Usually you’ll want to make sure it’s available. Godaddy lets you search the database of web domains and then secure and purchase it. I use these guys for all my websites.
- Web Hosting by Blue Host: This is the easiest web hosting I have found to date. They let you register you domain and install your site all within the installation and registration process.
- Web Hosting by Hostgator: This is who hosts most of my websites and blogs. They have been very dependable and the customer support rocks. The tools that come with their hosting helps when creating your site and makes it super simple.
- WordPress FREE Blog Platform: This is the best blogging software on the planet in my book and it’s FREE. But…you will need to host your site and upload the software. Hostgator lets you use their software (c-panel) to install a wordpress blog in minutes.
Video Slideshow Creation
- Animoto Software: Creating slideshows can help you business in many ways. You can create slideshows and sell to clients of their pictures and you can also use video to be found in Google when people are searching locally for photographers. This software is easy to use and delivers very high quality.
- iMovie – iLife Bundle: This is included on all Macs, but you may have to upgrade to the latest version. I have used iMovie for years and it can create nice slideshows.
Video “On Camera” Creation
I know what you’re thinking. “Scott…I’m not shooting video of my clients.” That maybe true, but you should add some video of yourself on your website or blog. This could be a welcome message or a behind the scenes tour of your studio. People like to see who’s behind the business or website. It will create an instant relationship before you ever pick up the phone. Plus…you can upload your video to Youtube and get some visitors to your website. Everyone should use video footage for their business.
- Flip Video Camera HD 1080p: I own this camera and it works really well for point and shoot. The quality is very good and super easy to add to a slideshow, blog or just upload to Youtube.
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 12 MP Micro Four-Thirds: I purchased this to add a little more movie type quality to my videos. It has a prime f/2.5 lens which allows you to get a nice shallow depth of field like you see in the movies. This is the one I mainly use now for online video.
Side Note: Most new DSLR’s shoot video and do a nice job. I tried my Nikon D90 and it did ok. But…it was hard to set up the shot and get that nice shallow depth of field that I was going after. Plus…it only records up to 20 minutes.
- Vistaprint: I’m sure you’ve heard of this company. They advertise everywhere and know how to market. I use them for some of my direct mail marketing materials and have been totally happy with the quality and speed of shipping the product.
As I add more items to my tool bag, I will update this page with links.