Photography Equipment Checklist
Our complete professional photography equipment list is designed for you to use as a starting point for putting together an initial estimate of costs for a new, startup photography business. Although every photographer has a different style of shooting, target market, and technical needs, you can use this list as a basic guide to the cost of starting a photography business by budgeting for the items that are relevant to your particular photographic niche and working methods.
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Along with the most commonly used camera and studio equipment items, we’ve also included our most-used office equipment as well as other costs you should consider when estimating how much money you will need to start your photography business. Print, adapt, and add to this photography business checklist as you see fit to determine how much initial investment your photography business will require.
BASIC PHOTOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT EXPENSE LIST
Cameras – As a pro, you can’t risk being left without a camera on the job, so you’ll need a second camera body as a backup in case things go wrong.
Standard lenses – Perhaps a couple of decent zoom lenses and a fast fixed standard lens to start.
Specialized lenses – if you shoot real-estate, architecture or interiors you’ll need a tilt-shift lens. Sports photographers might need longer lenses or a fish-eye. Others will need a macro lens.
Tripod and head – With tripods you get what you pay for. Buy a good one now, rather than a cheap one today and then a good one in 6 months time when the cheap one inevitably ends up in the trash.
Spare camera battery
Lens and sensor cleaning kit
Spare flash batteries
Camera bag or wheeled case such as a Pelican
Lint roller – For removing hair and dust from clothes (gaffer tape also works pretty well)
Self-sealing plastic bags
First aid kit
Umbrellas – Not the photographic kind, but for protection from rain and sun.
Toolkit or multitool
PROFESSIONAL PHOTO STUDIO EXPENSE LIST
Continuous “hot” lighting
Portable or studio flash kits
Spare batteries for portable light packs
Head-to-pack extension cables
Standard floor stands
Flash-sync cord – In case your radio-slaves get buggy
Light diffusion material, such as tracing paper or frost
Background stands or wall mount system
Desktop product-lighting tent
Large sheets of white or black paper/card – Can be taped to wall or floor to bounce/absorb light
Light meter – Not as essential as it was in the days before digital, but some still prefer to use an exposure meter for greater accuracy.
Clamps from DIY store
Bedsheet or large black cloth – For model to change under on location, can also double as light diffusion material or blackout
Tupperware boxes – For storage (particularly good for protecting small but valuable bits of kit like Pocket Wizards)
Multiple outlet and extension cords
Small mirrors – Good for reflecting light onto still-life set-ups.
Polymer clay – For propping up and positioning mirrors.
OFFICE / BUSINESS PREMISES EXPENSE LIST
Home, office or studio – If you have a dedicated working area in your home, a portion of your rent is usually considered a tax-deductible business expense.
Computer – For administration and photo retouching/editing
Calibrated professional monitor – For retouching and editing (note that iMac monitors are too contrasty for professional retouching work)
Graphic pad/tablet – Better than mouse or trackpad for complex retouching
Paper – Photographic and for regular documents
Tablet – To show your work to clients in meetings
Hard drive storage – For backup of files
Software – Lightroom and/or Photoshop. Video editing software if you also shoot video
Legal and Financial Expenses
Public liability insurance
Monthly phone contract
Cloud storage – For back up of files
Website domain registration and hosting
Assistant – Use lights and other heavy or technically complicated equipment? You might need to hire an assistant on a per-job basis.
Editing and retouching – if you’re extremely busy shooting all the time, or just prefer not to spend days on end in front of the computer, you might prefer to outsource the editing of your photos to freelancers. Affordable off-shore photo-editing companies can be found on freelancer sites such as Upwork and Fiverr.
When putting together a list of the equipment you will need to start your photography business it can be easy to forget all but the most obvious of items. There are so many small bits of gear and gadgets that make shooting easier but that aren’t necessarily the first things that comes to mind when thinking of photographic equipment. This is especially the case if you shoot with artificial lighting.
We’ve listed most of these items here and have also included many non-photographic, but nonetheless very useful, items too. You could easily spend a few hundred dollars on this “extra” stuff, so it’s essential that you account for it right from the beginning when putting together your budget.