General discussion

Please Help Me!

This is my one and only chance in a lifetime to become what I have always wanted to do, so any photographers with any advice PLEASE help me. I have the money to do this and get prepared and set up and this chance doesn?t come around very often...

Here is my problem:

I want to start my own business in photography business and I do know it will take time to do that, my husband is going to help me get "everything" I need to get this going but wants me to get the right stuff right off the bat instead of buying stuff and trying to upgrade it later. He wants me to go all out and get the stuff that is going to be needed now and for future use.

I am starting off with nothing at this time because I really don?t know what I am going to need. My daughter and I are going to be working this business together and love to take pictures and have been wanting to get into photography for many years but never had the money to do so until now.

Here is what we are asking for help with...

We are wanting one of the best photography cameras for taking photographs of like families, weddings, reunions, ect... would like to find one of the best cameras that you don?t need to be buying so many accessories for such as lenses and ect. I would like a very good quality camera for enlargement pictures and also very good zooming.

We are looking to get what we are needing to get prepared then after getting what we are needing we will start learning and practicing with what we have and learning by going to other photography forms ect.

We are looking for someone to tell us just what kind of camera, lighting, backdrops, backdrop stands and accessories that we will need for now and in the future. So my main question is what are the main products that we will need to buy and where is the best place to get them at.

As I was saying my husband wants to get the best to begin with and not keep having to be out the money to keep upgrading from for instance a $300 camera to a $500 camera to a $2000.00 camera and end up having several cameras in the closet that are no longer being used.

I want to get "everything" that I need asap and get started. I really don?t want everything that is unnecessary to start off with just the main accessories as I mentioned above.

Most of the forums that I?ve been reading say start off with a smaller camera and work your way up with attachments and ect which isn?t what my husband is wanting to do. I don?t want to go all out and get the most expensive stuff out there but do want to get whatever its going to take to just get me started out pretty good.

Someone please give me ideas and advice on accessories... is it possible to get a good photography camera that you don?t have to buy extra lenses for and more attachments? I could use all the advice I could get without someone telling me to just work my way up to it because like I said this is a one chance in a lifetime for me to get what I need and be prepared for the future.

Any and all help would be appreciated!
Thanks so much...

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Photography equipment

Here are some suggestions:

Camera body (get 2 camera bodies if your budget allows):
Minimum will be Canon 5D Mark II
Or up a notch to Nikon D3x
If you can wait, then Canon 1Ds Mark IV

Lenses (I will give examples of Canon lenses since I'm more familiar with Canon than Nikon, but you should be able to find equivalent Nikon lenses):
For weddings, 24-70mm f/2.8L (or 24-105mm f/4L IS) and 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II
For Portraits, 85mm f/1.2L II
If you need ultra-wide angle, 16-35mm f/2.8L II

Also get a Gary Fong Lightsphere (there is a new collapsable one on his website that is more portable than the older ones). And also get a Sto-fen light diffuser.

Get at least 2 top of the line flashes. For Canon, the 580 ex II Speedlite.

Get the PocketWizard remote system to wirelessly trigger your flashes off the camera.

Elinchrom Ranger Quadra Pro set with 2 Flashheads and powerpack

You can also get a set of monolights for the studio, but these are not portable like the elinchrom Ranger Quadra (The White Lightning or Alien Bees have some good quality and reasonably priced units)

Strobes accessories:
Octabank softbox or large softbox
Beauty dish
A set of Grids and gels
Light stands (background light stand is usually shorter)
Snoot, Barndoor (for more dramatically placed lights)
Strip light(s)

Backdrops and stands

Photoshop CS4 (or CS5 if you can wait)

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If you ever venture into wedding photography then you'll need 2 bodies, because if one has a problem you don't want to tell the bride "oops". There are no second chances at a wedding shoot. Also, once you have learned and practiced photography you really need to be an assistant to a wedding photographer for awhile to get the hang and flow of shooting a wedding. The last thing you want is to screw up the shots for the most important day of that bride's life, to that point.

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To continue the list

Sorry, had to cut short earlier.

These are some additional items:

A sturdy tripod:
Gitzo, Manfrotto, Giottos, Slik, Benro, etc are among the popular brands

A computer or laptop monitor calibrator to ensure accurate color editing (this is even more important with large prints, they are expensive and you don't want to make a mistake):
X-rite has excellent color calibration
Datacolor's Spyder3 pro is a cheaper alternative
Huey is another option

Backdrop and stands:
There are different types of backdrops, Muslin, Canvas, Paper, Fabric, Velour, Chroma Key (green or blue screen), digital backdrop, etc. Everyone has his/her preference, some consideration may be given to the size of your studio, storage space, etc. Small or home studio may consider collapsable background or Chroma Key to minimize storage space (that's what I use at home). You can look at or for extensive selections. I have a black, white, and gray collapsable background. I can change background color using background light with color gels. I also have a large collapsable green screen for chroma key digital background.

A set of Photoflex Collapsable Reflectors can be very handy.

Other than Photoshop CS4, the Portrait Professional v.9 is an easy program to smooth the skin and reduce blemish within 1-2 minutes.
Chroma Key can be done with Photoshop but it is time consuming. There are softwares that can automate this process and you can finish your work within minutes. I like the Primatte Chromakey and the Backdrop designer (which you can digitally design the color, texture and pattern of your background).
Another useful software is Silver Efex pro which helps to optimize dramatic B+W photos.
If you want to show your clients photos quickly on the laptop, there is tethered shooting softwares and a useful software called DSLR Remote pro from Breeze System, that features a Photo Booth.

Flash or Incident light meter is an accurate way to measure your lighting. Although your digital camera has TTL metering, it is reflective light being measured. On the field, few people will use the light meter these days. But in the studio, especially setting up the strobes, it is still useful.

I forgot earlier to tell you about some other third party flashes. The Canon and Nikon top of the line flashes are very good. But if you want more power but does not want to carry the Elinchrom quadra, then the Q Flash is an option.

You will need some sturdy large bags to haul the equipment around. Also need batteries and memory cards. Also check your laptop and computer. You should have at least Core Duo or the last crop of Apple Powerbook, 4 GB RAM, 500 GB harddrive. And you should think about an online server to backup all the photos or have your own server at home. Minimum will be a few 1TB harddrives to have redundant copies of the photos. Other little things will be lens cleaning kits, car/solar chargers, filters and Flash gels for special effect.

Obviously there are a lot of accessories and special lenses you can get. But these are some of the basic ones.

Many people use online professional print services to do their printing.
But if you want to do your own printing, then it depends on how large you print on a regular basis. I like the Epson printers. Most people will not need the Professional Stylus Pro 9880/9900 model unless you routinely print gallery quality 44" wide prints. The stylus pro 4880/3880 is usually enough (print 17" wide prints). For professional printing, one usually will prefer pigment based ink rather than dye based, because you can print on different photo materials and they last longer (they can last generations).

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Print sizes

Sorry, in case you are not familiar with the printer sizes, here is just some examples:

The Epson stylus pro 4880/3880 can print US C size prints 17x22" or the A2 size 16.5x23.4".

But if you frequently sell 24x36" photos, then you need the Epson stylus pro 7880 that can print up to 24" wide.

However if you think you can sell a lot of 40x60" or larger size photos, then you can think about stylus pro 9880/9900 (print up to 44' wide).

Again if you do your own printing, you should make sure your computer monitors and printers are all properly calibrated with the X-rite or Spyder3 pro to produce true accurate colors.

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