As a new photographer continues to learn and develop their craft, eventually they’ll get to a point where their equipment gets in the way of producing the images they desire.
A decent camera body with a kit lens is enough to get started, but eventually you’ll want to upgrade to take your photography to the next level.
Here is a list of some essential items every photographer should have in their bag.
1. External flash
The pop-up flash that comes with your camera can help introduce light to your photograph, but also comes with a lot of restrictions. Since the flash is attached to the camera body, there is only one direction the light with come from — straight on. This sometimes can result in undesired lighting (e.g. mug shot lighting).
An external flash (or strobe) allows you to add lighting off camera for more desirable results. You also can control the duration of the flash with manual settings and use multiple strobes for more complicated lighting setups. A sync cord or radio trigger can be used to fire remote strobes.
2. Wide-angle f/2.8 lens
There comes a certain point when you’ll outgrow the kit lens that came with your camera. These lenses are great for shooting outdoors when there is plenty of ambient light, but they come with limited functionally in low-light situations.
The maximum aperture on most kit lenses decreases when you zoom in — most have a maximum aperture of f/5.6 when zoomed in all the way. A constant aperture lens of f/2.8 is a great upgrade that works well in low-light situations and also is fast enough to capture action shots. A 16-35mm f/2.8 lens is a great walk-around lens that is wide enough for most shooting situations and fast enough for most lighting conditions.
3. Extra batteries and memory cards
Batteries and memory cards are relatively inexpensive and can be a lifesaver. The last thing you want is to run out of storage or power. If you plan on shooting all day you should have several batteries charged and cleared memory cards. Re-charge your batteries after each shoot, and backup your photos and clear your memories cards so you’re not shooting on a full card.
4. Neutral gray card
A neutral gray card is a simple, yet effective way to get an accurate white balance for your photography. If you’re shooting several photographs in the same environment with consistent lighting, simply take one photograph with the neutral gray card in frame. This tutorial gives a quick rundown on how to set the white balance based off the image with the neutral gray card.
5. Lens and sensor cleaner
It’s important to keep your lenses and sensor clean. Little specks of dust can be edited out in Photoshop, but it’s better to stay proactive by cleaning and protecting your equipment.
You should always keep your lenses and camera body unexposed to dirt and debris. When dust or small pieces of dirt do make their way into your camera, an air blaster is a cheap, but useful tool to remove any unwanted particles. A simple cleaning cloth, the same you’d use for eyeglasses, can be used to keep your lenses clean.
Subscribe to Beyond Bylines to get media trends, journalist interviews, blogger profiles, and more sent right to your inbox.
Anthony Vence is a Customer Content Specialist at PR Newswire. He contributes to @PRNmedia and previously worked in the newspaper industry as a news and sports editor. He also works as a freelance photographer.