“At this point, I have… come to the realization that neither equipment, nor technique can make up for inspiration, vision and message.”—Dan K.
Let’s get this out of the way first: Equipment doesn’t make portraits, people do. It’s obvious that you’ll need a camera and some kind of light source to shoot portraits but you don’t need a $45,000 Hasselblad H5D-200c to make portraits. Any—and I mean any—camera that takes interchangeable lenses will let you create salable (another key word) portraits.
Over at our sister blog, Mirrorless Photo Tips, I wrote a post about a portrait shot I did with a camera and lens that together cost less than $400 and that was with a new camera. There are lots of bargains available in used or refurb cameras that you can purchase from camera stores, eBay or Craig’s List.
Important point #1: Don’t let ego determine what kind of camera you buy or use. Recently I talked with an aspiring portrait photographer who’s using a Nikon digital SLR that was introduced four years ago and he told me that when he went to photography meet-ups people disparaged his using “old” gear.
Important point #2: Don’t let other other people, especially other photographers, determine how you spend your money. Having too much money tied up in cameras and lights or worse, debt for that gear will sink a new portrait photographer faster than anything else. You will sell your photographs based on the quality of your work, personality and business ethics. The truth is that if your clients like their photographs and you, they don’t care if you shoot with a Pentax K1000
PS. Think you need the most expensive lighting equipment? The above portrait was made using two LED light bulbs. Yes, I said light light bulbs. It was made for Shutterbug magazine story I wrote about setting up an in-home studio for less than $200.