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From Hobbyist to Professional: Step 2. Gear You Actually Need

Free Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets by MCP™

From Hobbyist to Professional: Step 2. Gear You Actually Need

Welcome back! Today I’m gonna talk about gear (the gear you actually need) to really get started.

I think investing money into education is money well spent. I think investing money on a dozen different photography gadgets is money well wasted.

Mottos I live by:

#1: Buy quality, need less.
#2: Don’t buy something until you feel limited because you don’t own it.
#3: You know all those fun gadgets? 90% of the time you don’t need them.

I run a profitable photography business. Here is my “barebones” list of what I need to run my business. Although, I have made enough money to own more, if I lost everything else I’d be totally fine.


1 camera (Canon’s 5d Mark II)

1 lens (my favorite is my 35mm 1.4)

CF memory cards

1 flash

1 laptop

1 monitor
(I simply connect my laptop to it when I edit)

1 keyboard, 1 wireless mouse

2 external hard drives (one is fire and waterproof)

Office space (office space is important – even if it’s only a transformed, walk-in closet)


monitor calibration software


Photoshop CS3 (most current is now Photoshop CS5)

Photoshop Actions

Excel (for accounting)



A phone

Marketing material (i.e. website, business cards, etc.)

Proofing software

Ways to make do for less:

1. Don’t feel like you have to have the best camera available to make beautiful photographs. First, you are the one that makes beautiful photographs and after you get your education you will be confident of that no matter what camera you use. Secondly, buying a quality lens is oftentimes more important than the camera itself. Save up and buy a quality one. It might be the only lens you’ll ever need.

2. Use the laptop you already own and spend the money on a quality monitor for editing.

3. Rent, instead of buy, additional gear (i.e. 2nd camera and/or additional lens), if necessary.

4. Don’t get obsessed with purchasing every single Photoshop action set out there. Invest in one or two good sets and only buy more when you have the spare income.

5. Really research extra photography gadgets before you purchase them. The only extra “gadget” I own and use is a diffuser for my flash ($20).

It’s easy to feel suffocated by all the things we think we need to own in order to run a successful business. I challenge you all to really think of what you need to do the job you’re desiring to do. Make a list and stick to it. Only by additional items when you truly can afford it.

Jessica, our guest writer for this series on going from Hobbyist to Professional Photographer, is the photographer behind 503 photography and the owner and creator of 503 |online| workshops for adults and now, KIDS AND TEENS!

p.s. Sign your chid up for one of our kid/teen workshops and use code MCP503 for $50 off. Offer ends May 23rd.

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  1. October 29, 2011 at 4:47 am —

    WOW! What a brilliant post. Thanks for sharing…

  2. March 29, 2012 at 10:21 am —

    That is a great post. I have downsized my lens list and extras as I found I didn’t really need them, but wanted them. Its tough when you hang out with photographers who own lots of lenses and the newest cameras. You know how they can be better, but you do have to find what works for you and get quality.

  3. May 16, 2012 at 1:53 pm —

    I seldom leave comments, but i did a few searching and wound up here From Hobbyist to Professional: Step 2. Gear You Actually Need | MCP Photography Blog. And I do have a few questions for you if you tend not to mind. Could it be only me or does it seem like a few of the remarks appear like they are coming from brain dead folks? 😛 And, if you are posting on other sites, I’d like to follow everything fresh you have to post. Could you make a list of the complete urls of all your community sites like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

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From Hobbyist to Professional: Step 2. Gear You Actually Need