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Hope Taylor is a photographer specializing in senior portraits serving both Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA.


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What Equipment Do I Buy First? For Photographers

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View More: http://thephotographysmiths.pass.us/hope

Some of the questions that have been filling my inbox over the last few weeks are “What equipment should I buy if I am just starting out?” or “which lenses do I buy first!?” or “Which camera will give me the best quality for a lower price!?” These are SUCH great questions and they are the exact same questions that I had when I was just beginning! Typically, when we are just getting started with photography, our budget isn’t very big for equipment. AND, on top of that, there are THOUSANDS of options for camera bodies, lenses, flashes, tripods, memory cards, filters, batteries and more. The list could go on! But, I am hoping today’s blog post gives a little bit of guidance when choosing what equipment is right for you at the beginning of your business! Since I’m a Canon shooter, this equipment will all be Canon…I’m so sorry to my Nikon shooters out there!!! (This post will NOT be a “What’s in My Bag” post, because what is currently in my bag may not be best for someone who is just starting! To see what is in my bag NOW, you can read THIS post!)


When you begin diving into the big, bad world of DSLR cameras, you have to buy your camera bodies and camera lenses separately. So, here are a few of my favorite camera bodies for beginners, listed from lowest price to highest (and from beginner to more advanced!)

Canon Rebel T5i:

This camera is one of the least expensive DSLRs on the market for Canon right now! You can get it for less than $400 (and even cheaper if you buy it used)! I started with a Canon Rebel T3i 4 years ago…but this is the equivalent now 🙂 It’s a great option for someone who has never had a DSLR camera or someone who is not necessarily wanting to be a professional, but wants to be able to take high quality pictures of their kiddos or family!! 🙂

Canon EOS 70D: 

Personally, I have never used this camera!!! But, I have heard a lot of wonderful things about it and I think it’s a great “happy medium” for someone who wants to take a leap to a nicer quality DSLR, but doesn’t have thousands to spend!

Canon 6D:

THIS is my favorite in the blog post 🙂 Personally, I think it’s Canon’s best kept little secret!!! The Canon 6D is what I shot with for about a year between my Canon Rebel and the 5D Mark lll that I shoot with now! But, the thing is, there are NOT that many differences between a Canon 5D mark lll and a Canon 6D, except the 6D is less than HALF the price!! If you are looking to invest in a high-quality, professional DSLR camera to take your images and your business to the next level but you don’t have $3k to spend on a Mark lll…the 6D is your new best friend! I promise you will love it 🙂


This is where things get stressful! There are SO many lens options and so many lens BRANDS…things can get overwhelming fast! I have always shot with Canon lenses + I prefer PRIME lenses. Prime lenses don’t zoom in or out…they have one fixed focal length. So, when you need to zoom in, you move your feet instead of your lens! That’s how I always explain it 🙂 These lenses are BEST for portraits + weddings because they are tack-sharp and so easy to use! Here are some of my favorites for beginners:

Canon 50mm 1.8:

This lens is the MUST-HAVE lens in your bag!!! It’s referred to as the “nifty-fifty” because it can be used for almost everything and you can get one for less than $100!!! A 50mm focal length lens is the closest you can get to the focal length of the human eye, so you are seeing everything the way you normally would with this lens! I use my 50mm 1.2 at every single shoot and for almost 50% of the wedding day…so the 1.8 is a GREAT investment when you are starting your business!

Canon 85mm 1.8:

When I purchased this lens during my first year in business, I was pretty blown away at the quality of the lens for such a low price! You can snag this lens for less than $350 and it is a BEAUTIFUL lens! It is a little more zoomed in than the 50mm, so it is perfect for close-up, romantic portraits + the bokeh is AMAZING! If you are looking for another affordable portrait lens to add to your bag, this is the one 🙂


Some other things that you may be searching for when looking for equipment to invest in are memory cards, camera bags + luggage that protects your equipment! Here are the things that I use:

SanDisk Extreme CF cards (they’re FAST and they’re on sale right now!!!)

JoTotes Camera Bags (I’ve always carried these and LOVE them-super adorable + high quality!)

Think Tank Airport V2.0 (this is the carry-on size suitcase I used to travel with all of my equiptment-SUCH a good investment!)

I hope this post helped, ya’ll! Happy Tuesday!

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also love:

December Senior Photography Workshop

The 5 Programs in my Editing Workflow

What’s in My Bag | Wedding Day Details

  1. Jill says:

    Great post. Thanks! I also love Canon and don’t ever plan to switch to Nikon.

  2. Ryan claypole says:

    What do you think of nikon cameras? I tried a few canons but had difficulty with them. I know obviously your a canon user, I would like to know your opinion.

hi, y'all!

I'm Hope Taylor, an international Senior Portrait and Wedding Photographer based in Charleston, SC. I'm also an educator, international speaker, and the host of multiple sold-out workshops each year!



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My Free Senior Questionnaire

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