New Photographers……..allow me to save you some money.

It’s the least I can do.

I’ve been around the photography industry for a decade now so I’m going to pay a tiny little bit forward.

But wait………….

Your camera shop isn’t going to like this…………not one bit.

‘Sorry ’bout that’

Here it is folks………….

**DON’T BE PRESSURED INTO BUYING A UV FILTER TO PROTECT YOUR CAMERA LENS**

Your lens hood will protect the surface of your lens just fine. Why pay big bucks for an optically beautiful lens just to place an inferior piece of glass over it?

Doesn’t really make sense does it?

I guess it’s kinda like buying a store protection plan for a dishwasher that actually works out more expensive than the price of the dishwasher over the period of the plan…………the cost to you in this respect though is the downgrading of your image quality.

It’s a bit of an upselling scam really. The classic line being something like……. “I dropped my lens and the filter broke Instead of the lens, therefore the cheap filter did it’s job!”

In reality the filter breaking could just as easily scratch the precious front element of your lens beneath.

Most likely, the internal parts of the lens are going to get damaged if you drop the lens. A sturdy lens hood will offer you a lot more protection.

You might need to use a UV filter say if you were out on location photographing something where your lens might get splashed or muddy for example……making it easier to clean afterwards. Alternatively though you might buy a cheap 50mm ‘nifty fifty’ lens instead, that probably costs the same (or even less) than a filter? I know which option I’d choose if it were me…………

So hopefully this humble piece of advice will stick with you the next time you visit the camera store and save you some of your hard earned cash.

The Milky Bars are on me………..(as they used to say in the ’80s)

Stay positive and keep testing negative.

Andy

I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.

www.andrewkatsaitisphotography.com

Buy me a coffee at my ko-fi page.

**DON’T BE PRESSURED INTO BUYING A UV FILTER TO PROTECT YOUR CAMERA LENS**If Th

What the major camera brands DON’T want you to know…………

………………………and this might come as a bit of a smack in the mouth.

‘Ave it.

Are you ready for it……………?

Here it comes…………….

**YOU DON’T NEED THE LATEST CAMERA MODEL OR THE MOST EXPENSIVE LENSES TO MAKE A GREAT IMAGE**

Is that clear?

I don’t really like to shout. In fact I’m very softly spoken in reality, but the amount of content out there that’s driven towards convincing people they need the new ‘Mark XXXXIII’ camera body or the latest 900mm f0.5 lens drives me to despair!

NO, NO, NO……………………..

The only gear you will ever need is the gear that enables you to get the job done.

If you take anything away from reading this article, try to remember the above statement. You and your bank account will thank me for it later. I promise.

Let’s be clear though. You ARE going to need some gear………..and despite what you might see and hear online, buying a £5000 camera body alone is not going to miraculously improve your photography. Not one tiny bit.

Now I’m not disrespecting Canon gear, because I do genuinely love it. I’m just citing examples from my own experience and I’m asking you to question whether you actually need that bit of kit or not.

I’ve tested the expensive lenses. Tried the Canon 70-200mm f2.8 it’s a beautiful lens…………I photographed a wedding with it at Chatsworth House and it was great, but guess what? When it came down to it, I purchased the Sigma 70-200 and it’s been my work horse lens ever since. I tried the 50mm f1.2. Beautiful lens…….heavy price tag. Shoot it at f1.2 and what do you have? Tons of out of focus, useless images…..beautiful bokeh though if that’s any consolation! For my own purpose I bought the cheap and cheerful 50mm f1.8 BECAUSE IT’S THE PIECE OF KIT I NEEDED IN ORDER TO GET THE JOB DONE! Purchasing the lens with the red ring on it won’t necessarily provide you with better images. Sure it may be more contrasty than say the third party manufacturer’s equivalent lens but a slight shift of a contrast slider in Lightroom for example (or better still using targeted contrast adjustments in Topaz Clarity or Nik) is no hardship, and it’s not going to cost you an extra £1500 is it? Is the red ring really worth the extra money? Improving one’s craft comes with practice and learning…….NOT NEW GEAR.

I feel like I want to tell you all to go out there and use your Canon Rebel with the kit lens or a 50mm and learn how to use it so well that you can make incredible images in your sleep.

I’ll let you into a little secret………any photographer, who has taken the time to learn their craft and to master that limited bit of kit, could do exactly just that.

When you buy a piece of kit, my humble advice would be to learn it to the extent of it’s limitations before you look to buy something else. For example. I’m a flash photographer. The first modifier I bought was a reflective umbrella and let me tell you I got the most from that thing. I learned it’s uses off by heart. It’s a great modifier and it’s cheap, but when I came to understand that I needed a bit more control of the spill of light, well then it was at that point when I moved on to buying a soft box with a grid. Can you see my process? After I’d purchased my beloved beauty dish, I then realised I needed to upgrade my regular light stand to a C stand with a boom arm in order to use it effectively.

Here’s an image I made when I was just starting out with that same silver umbrella (collapsed) and that cheapo 50mm f1.8 lens.

I guess what I’m trying to say is……yeah, I’d love the medium format camera or the latest Canon/Sony in an ideal world, but I would honestly focus instead on making great images with the kit that you have. Of course you should upgrade when necessity dictates to (and if you can afford to of course), but let’s face it, the major camera companies will release new kit every year, newer and better. Just don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to buy it to make great images.

Thanks for reading.

Stay safe.

Andy

I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.

www.andrewkatsaitisphotography.com

Buy me a coffee at my ko-fi page.

The top five inexpensive pieces of gear that made the biggest impact on my photography………..

…………………and I’m not talking about the latest camera bodies or the fastest most expensive glass. We’re not even in the same ballpark actually………nowhere near.

Let’s break it down. Cameras and glass aside I’m sure we’ve all had those Eureka moments on our respective photographic journeys where we’ve come to realise ‘how did I ever manage before without this piece of kit?’ Call it an epiphany if you will, but each of these individual items I’m going to list below have had a huge impact on my creative process and really enabled me to grow as an artist.

None of this stuff is going to break the bank……….

First up and probably the single most simple but ultimately effective item on the list……..The tethering cable.

Tethering to the computer during a shoot has literally transformed the way I work. I WILL NEVER LOOK BACK. Forgive the caps but I can’t emphasise enough the value of shooting this way. Working in real time and being able to see the images on the big screen will allow you (and your creative team) to make live adjustments to hair, makeup, posing, lighting and anything else that may go unnoticed on the small LCD display on the back of the camera. My subjects have always appreciated being able to see the images as they are being shot and have the opportunity to see what is working for them and what isn’t, and adjust accordingly.

Type A to Mini-B USB 2.0 Cable is the specification for my Canon Cameras. I have a couple of cheap cables I purchased from Amazon for as little as £6 which do the job perfectly, but if you wanted to buy the industry standard then Tether Tools is the place for you.

https://www.tethertools.com

So yeah……just in case you missed it……..the tethering cable is my number one most useful piece of kit. ‘Try it…….you’ll like it’ (as my mum used to say!)

Next up…………

The C Stand and Boom Arm.

Now light (as I’m sure you already know) works best either from above (it works for the sun) or from the side in a painterly Rembrandt style. I love to light from overhead, either with the beauty dish or an octabox and this beautiful, ugly bit of metal allows me to do just that……probably the best 90 quid I’ve ever spent on grip. I can boom my 22 inch metal beauty dish front and centre of my subject without fear of it dropping down and denting the floor (or my model!) It’s truly a great bit of kit and the boom arm itself also allows for better placement and manoeuvrability of other larger modifiers in the Rembrandt position too. All in all much better choice than a regular light stand, and a LOT more sturdy.

Third on my list…….Sheets of coloured cellophane.

Yep.

These cost me £3.50 for a multicoloured selection. Use them to gel your flashes. Cheap as chips as they say here in England, and very effective.

If you have some coloured gels for your flashes then why not go a step further and add some smoke?

The humble fog machine ranks next as one of my most useful pieces of kit.

Instantly add atmosphere to your studio shots with one of these. Remember to backlight the smoke and have fun!

One tip when using the smoke machine though would be to use it near the end of the shoot……the room can get a little clogged up after a few blasts and you’ll find it increasingly hard to focus until the smoke dissipates, so use sparingly.

Finally, last but not least is my wonderful painterly style cloth backdrop from KateBackdrop.

It features in many of my images for good reason, as I absolutely love it.

I do love to shoot against a storm grey backdrop and blend textures in Photoshop as this gives me a lot of creative scope in post production, but this fantastic and cheap bit of cloth really allows me to get a finished look to my pictures that I really love. I’m sure I will purchase others from the range going forward but for now I’m very happy indeed with this one.

Here’s the link to it on Amazon.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my insights in this article and I’d absolutely love to hear about your own ‘go to’ pieces of kit that you simply can’t do without.

Thanks for reading and please do drop by and connect with me on social media.

Stay safe.

Andy.

I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.

www.andrewkatsaitisphotography.com