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Old Apr 2, 2011, 3:46 AM   #1
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Default Equipment for Potrait photography

I am looking to try Childrens and Potrait photography on a commercial bases as an extra to my job.

Obviously don't want to spend a fortune

Am unsure what proportion of money should be going where?

Lens /Lighting/Camera Body/Backdrop

I also have a Sony Alpha with Kit Lens. Would a new lens for this but same Body be ok?

Any thoughts regarding costs for each component
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Old Apr 2, 2011, 4:16 AM   #2
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Hi and welcome to Steve's.

It would be helpful to get an idea of what you are used to shooting now and the level at which you are doing it as it won't only be the kit that is the limiting factor but also experience/skill. If you are going to be new to lighting then you will need to invest time in learning and possibly money in training. It's hard to make money out of photography, the competition is high so your work needs to be right up there to get in on the action.

The basics I would say you need are:

White background with train (having a black option is good too for some variety) on some sort of stand system.

3 lights or 2 lights and a big reflector (I personally use 4 lights for high key photography)

Lens that covers 50-100mm in 35mm terms and something longer as well can be helpful to give you some space away from the child if they are not comfortable.

Triggering system, you can use wired but it's a bit messy and restrictive, remote triggers will work best. Cactus v5 triggers are wonderful and you can get a whole lot for the same price as the very big names.

If you are doing baby photography (pre 1 year old) then the baby poser from Lastolite will be a real bonus.

Coloured fabric to cover the baby poser for different feels/looks.

That's about it for equipment, next it is down to marketing tools, your skills to work with children and to get the best out of them, how well you can set up your equipment to get the best results to give you the edge.
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Old Apr 2, 2011, 4:18 AM   #3
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I missed the question on costs, well that can be as much or as little as you like. When I bought my studio lights I went for the Elinchrom D Lites, problem is they don't have a fan so get a bit warm when used lots, so consider something with built in fans if you see yourself doing a lot of this otherwise you will get stuck with the lights needing to cool down before shooting more.

If you are in the UK then probably you won't get a lot of change out of 1000 or more, in the US I'm not sure of current prices.
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Old Apr 2, 2011, 4:31 AM   #4
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G'day Stuart

Your Q is one that many 'togs ask - and if 6 of us answer you, you'll get 12 suggestions - However, here goes ...

The most important thing needed for half-decent portrait stuff is the basic skills and "bedside manner" of the photographer. It does not matter a schmuk how good your cameras, lenses & general equipt is, if the person/'tog dealing with the subject/client hasn't got a good bedside-manner, then all bets are off as the old saying goes

Equipment wise - the old KISS rule rules the day ... get a good quality, basic setup going, work it and work it [ie: develop your own formula] and from that you'll get results

Camera - arguably doesn't matter, so long as it's not a P&S with a small sensor;
Lenses - between 50mm & 90mm on a dSLR will provide adequate image perspective - [passport image thru to head-to-waist at least] certainly a dedicated lens will give super-sharpness, but a zoom will provide versatility;
Backdrop - can become very expensive if you don't watch out ... look for alternatives, sometimes soft lighting onto a wall will do, sometimes you can build your own timber frame with pull-out-cords, each attached to a different coloured cloth [even bed sheets can do] so long as they're rippled as a curtain is rippled over your lounge-room windows
Reflectors - make your own ... get some white polystyrene 4ft x 8ft, and make a frame / feet and let it free-stand opposite the main light
Lights - Flash is becoming easier & cheaper. Look around at the flash + softbox offerings for a main light + a less-powerful fill light

Some thoughts ~ Hope this helps
Regards, Phil
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Old Apr 2, 2011, 4:36 AM   #5
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Phil, I would say for home, family/friend use then a basic/DIY solution can be good, but there is a certain element of expectation on the side of the client when doing professional work. Creating the right impression, feeling, experience are all key elements as well as the final photos (the latter being the most important obviously). I would say it is a case of finding a happy balance between kit that can work long enough and fast enough while looking professional enough.

Another consideration if this is to be portable rather than permanently set up is how portable it actually is. Generally a softbox solution isn't as good as using umbrellas when you need to move and set up quickly. Also a collapsible background is going to really help rather than the more traditional stands and background, but this is not quite as cheap, just easier.
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Old Apr 2, 2011, 4:50 AM   #6
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Default Camera Body

So to start with get a quality lens,trigger system,good lighting and backdrop.

Try all this with the Sony Alpha 200 (cheap) Camera Body? Already have this

rather than spending a further 1000 on a 'serious' Camera Body?
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Old Apr 2, 2011, 5:02 AM   #7
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For studio the body isn't too essential, you will usually be working at about f8 so even a medium quality lens will do just fine.

I would strongly suggest before spending loads reading as much as you can, looking a the setups of other people who do what you want to do as we all do it differently and see what will work out best. For example you could use one good main light then fill with a reflector and some more basic lights for the background illumination. Starting out is the hardest as you can't say for sure things will take off or not, spending too much could be a waste but so could spending too little if you then only need to upgrade to better kit.

One thing I didn't mention was a spare body, if you are shooting paid then you need a backup of anything that can go wrong and stop you working.
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