The Best Boudoir Photography Equipment: 7 Things I Use Every Single Day
Equipment — it’s not always something you need. Yes, you need a camera to take pictures, and a computer to run your business off of. Maybe some lights mixed in there too.
But past that, you don’t really need much to get started. Or to keep running your boudoir photography biz.
Honestly? I’d rather invest in education. I think it’s priceless to learn the actual strategies and techniques you need to do things like appeal to your target audience, market your services, and keep clients coming back for more.
Over the years, I’ve realized that new boudoir photography equipment isn’t going to increase your profitability or give your clients a better experience. New and “better” equipment isn’t going to make or break your sessions or your session sales.
You definitely need GOOD reliable equipment, but you don’t need to constantly upgrade your equipment either.
That being said, as a photography business, you still have to invest in SOME equipment. And in this episode, I’m breaking down exactly what equipment I use in my business so you can get a feel for what works…and what doesn’t!
RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Canon 5D Mark iii
- Canon 5D classic
- Canon T3i
- Canon 70-200 2.8 ii L
- 50mm 1.2 L
- 50mm 1.8
- Canon 5D mark ii
- CF Card
- SD Card
- EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE
- Westcott Solix Lights
- Westcott Ice Light 2
- Ice Light Knock Off
- Alien bees
- Macbook Air
- Macbook Pro
- iMac Desktop
- Screen extender
- Wacom Table
Boudoir Photography Equipment #1: A Camera
Obviously, you need a camera. I have two because I truly believe that every photographer needs their main camera AND a backup. But your backup doesn’t have to be super fancy.
If I ever needed another camera, I also have the option to use my sister’s DSLR if I need to (it’s a Canon T3i). Which yes, is a beginner camera. But the thing is, a great photographer can create art with whatever camera they have, and with whatever setup they have.
And more importantly — creating consistency for your clients can really make or break your biz. Not your camera.
You can provide clients with a great experience regardless of the type of camera. You don’t need a newer model to produce great photos, you need a camera you understand and that you can produce consistent images with!
Boudoir Photography Equipment #2: Camera Lenses
And with cameras of course come lenses. I have a Canon 70-200 2.8 ii L, which I also bought used from another wedding photographer in 2016.
I love the 70-200 because of the compression. It’s just so beautiful and fits my style. I use it for about 98% of my images. The only time I won’t use the 70-200 is if I need a little bit of a wider angle. In that case, I use a 50mm 1.2 L (this is one of the few things I bought new).
In all honesty, I would probably be fine with what’s called the Canon nifty 50 1.8, but for some reason, I convinced myself I needed the L lens to perfect my photography, so I have it.
But I rarely use it.
Are you noticing a theme here? You DO NOT have to buy brand new fancy equipment to run your boudoir photography business.
Boudoir Photography Equipment #3: Memory Cards
Now let’s talk memory cards — a photographer’s lifeline!
Now one important thing I want to note is that my Canon 5d Mark iii has dual card slots and this has saved me on more than one occasion. If you have a corrupt card, then it’s fine because you have your backup card. You don’t have to panic.
When you’re using your cards as much as you do as a professional photographer, then you’re more likely to experience corrupt cards. But if you do have a corrupt card when you’re uploading your photos to your computer, just switch out the cards and go about your day.
Obviously, I highly recommend investing in a camera that has dual card slots to get this protection!
And I really think you can never have too many. I have probably eight of the compact flash cards and 15 of the SD cards.
Boudoir Photography Equipment #4: Digital Storage
Of course, with memory cards comes digital storage. And as photographers, we run out of storage fast. So I recommend getting into the habit as soon as possible of backing up your images in multiple places AND in a secure, online, location.
To do this, I have 4 external hard drives. One is just the one I work off of. It’s plugged in 24/7 to my computer. The other three are backups. Yes, three! I know I go a little overboard, but it’s only because I’ve had two external hard drives fail over my 10 years in the industry. Not fun!!
Once I’ve completed a session and delivered the products, I back up the images to the other three hard drives, format my card, and back up the fully retouched photos (after culling) from the session to a folder in Dropbox.
Boudoir Photography Equipment #5: Lighting
Now, let’s move on to lighting, the thing that’s probably on everyone’s mind!
Personally, I mostly use natural light for boudoir photography. I think it just feels more real. A woman is not gonna be in her bedroom with all kinds of extra lighting, ya know?
But sometimes you do need to add extra lighting to really bring out the photos. So when I do use more light, I prefer continuous light over strobes or flashes.
For one, it’s quicker to set up and easier to use/get the light juuuuust right.
And two, it mimics natural light better (or at least I think so)!
Here is what I use:
There’s really no right or wrong choice, it’s just all about what look you’re going for and what look your clients want!
Boudoir Photography Equipment #6: A Computer
The sixth piece of equipment you have to have as a photographer is your computer. My main computer is a Macbook Air. And I chose it because it’s small and portable, which is great because I’m on the road all the time.
I work off of my external hard drive so I have plenty of storage, and it does literally everything I need. And remember, I also outsource retouching, which really helps since my screen is small.
The Macbook Air I have is super fast and I do some minor retouching on it. It works well for me!
I will say I do have a screen extender for when I’m writing. But that’s not really for my photography business…more for the education side of things.
And when I’m doing ordering sessions though, I do like to have my iPad out so that I can quickly give the total to the client. I share my screen, and then while the client is looking at the final images, I get the total in QuickBooks on my iPad.
The transition is smooth, she’s not waiting for me to get her total together and sitting there awkwardly in silence. Everything just happens really smoothly!
Boudoir Photography Equipment #7: A Tablet for Retouching
And finally…let’s talk about retouching.
If you’re retouching your own photos, I HIGHLY recommend a Wacom Tablet.
I know this is really just optional, but I know when I was doing my retouching, it helped me out soooo much. I have the smallest one for traveling purposes.
There is a learning curve with these, but once you figure it out, it’s sooooo easy. It just makes everything in the retouching process so much easier!
What’s a better investment — equipment or education?
Having gear you can count on is important, but you don’t need the latest and greatest. It’s totally possible to make do with what you have, and then upgrade as needed.
But remember that no piece of equipment will save your business. You can be a talented photographer, but if you neglect the business side of things, it’s going to be tough to grow or sustain that business.
That’s exactly why I say I’d prefer to invest in my education than in my equipment. Because education is what has helped transform my business over the years. I had no idea how to market, set price lists, or manage the client experience — but education got me there!
So if you’ve gone through this episode and still aren’t sure if you should buy equipment right now…maybe think about investing in education instead.
And good news — if that’s the direction you’re considering, I’ve got TONS of resources available for you in the TLC shop! From pricing to client experience and freebies, I’ve got whatever you need to take things to the next level!