Over the last few years of beginning to take my photography a little more seriously, I’ve expanded my kit from just a DSLR and 2 lenses – one of which is a kit lens – to something a little more extensive. While I can easily access it all when I’m at home, it’s impractical (and impossible) to lug my full kit with me everywhere I go so I want to share my 3 essentials for photography I can’t leave the house without.
Primarily, I am a portrait or self portrait photographer. Yes, I can shoot most things if I put my mind to it but my preferred subject is normally a person or animal. So my kit, if it can be called that, is geared more towards taking photos of others or myself.
See some of my self portraits from my Euphoria inspired photoshoot
Not every photographer will agree with my choices and that’s OK! As photography is a form of art, every photographer will have their own individual way of creating their art and preferences on how they do it. I wanted to add this disclaimer to hopefully avoid comments from people saying that my choices are wrong.
The Essentials – A La Melanie
Remote Shutter Control
This one should be fairly self explanatory for self portrait photography – I can’t be behind the camera and in front of it at the same time!
The remote I use all depends on the circumstances. I use the RC-6 primarily now I shoot on a Canon 80D because it’s small, wireless and very easy to edit out of photos. I used to rely on the Canon Camera Connect app before I got this remote for Christmas but it can be really clunky to actually connect to my camera. However, the benefits of the live view function are definitely valued.
I use the RS-60E only when I’m at home or behind my camera and that’s because it has a very short lead so I have to be close to my camera to use it. I only got it because it was the only remote compatible with my Canon 1200D.
But why do I need a remote when behind the camera?
Well, if I want to take photos and make sure the camera doesn’t shake when I press the shutter then a remote shutter means I don’t even have to touch my camera. This is particularly helpful when using a long shutter speed and need everything to be perfectly still.
A prime lens is basically a fancy way of saying a lens you can’t change the focal length of (aka: zooming in or out). So on my 18-55mm lens, I can have a focal length of anything between 18 and 55mm but on my 50mm prime lens, I can only shoot at a focal length of 50mm.
I initially thought a prime lens would restrict my photography and leave me craving my lenses where I have more range but in fact, I’ve found the opposite. I find myself reaching for my 50mm prime lens more than any of my other lenses. It’s taught me to work harder for my shots and also allows me to get more involved in my photos. Instead of standing far away and using maybe my 75-300mm lens, if I use my 50mm lens I can get a better photo – I just have to get closer to my subject.
My 50mm lens is also my most compact lens which is an added bonus because it barely adds to the weight of my camera.
One I use: Neewer Light Bar (Can’t find on Amazon to link)
Not everywhere you go to take photos will have amazing light so it can definitely be beneficial to have some sort of portable light you can use to ensure you can still capture high quality images and not sacrifice the quality of the image.
I use a light wand and while these can be a little on the pricey side (£50+), it is definitely one of the most useful things I own. Not only can I stick it in my backpack and go, I can also grab it and use it quickly at home if it need to make a TikTok or take a selfie. It is much easier than plugging in my softbox light and setting that up. Just switch on and boom, immediate light.
It is also a bonus to be able to change the temperature of the light from either warm white to bright white.
It doesn’t have to be expensive
I may be a complete Canon snob so my remotes and lenses are all Canon branded but you can get dupes and other brands for a lot less money – but make sure you do your research into whether what you’re buying is compatible with your camera.
Different lenses have different mounts so be careful with that, especially if you choose brands like Sigma – make sure you go for the mount that is compatible with your camera.
Photography is definitely an expensive hobby but there are ways of cutting costs without sacrificing quality. My personal rule of thumb is to buy the branded equipment when it comes to really important things like batteries and lenses but buy whatever works and gets the desired outcome when it comes to lights, backdrops or tripods.
If you do want the branded stuff straight off the bat though, places like eBay and London Camera Exchange do sometimes have second hand items that you can buy or you could rent a lens if you want to try before you buy. There are so many different options to get the gorgeous photos we all dream of and hey, you don’t even need a camera to actually take the photos! Smartphones do a fantastic job too.
Go forth and shoot!
If you, like me, want to make photography a serious hobby then you’ll begin to realise that not every photo you take will be fantastic. For every 1 photo that makes it onto my socials, there’s 10 that made me question whether I actually know how to use my camera. Don’t let that dishearten you though – tomorrow is another day.
Do you have any essentials that you can’t be without for photography? Let me know with a comment!