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Thread started 17 Jun 2015 (Wednesday) 21:02
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Beginner Portrait Photog Questions

 
rlynphoto
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Jun 17, 2015 21:02 |  #1

Hello.

I am currently a photographer in progress. I purchased my first camera and Lightroom a couple of months ago. I found a Canon EOS Rebel XT, 18-55mm lens for $100 on Craigslist. I think it's pretty old (2005?), but I have been trying to learn and understand manual mode.

I am pretty serious about doing photography as a business in the (hopefully nearer) future. Right now, I am using my kids for practice. I did one photo session on a friend's kid to test out the camera and see how it worked. At that time, I only had the camera for one day and did the shoot on manual mode only changing the ISO and adjusting focus. She was very wiggly and difficult to manually focus on, but surprisingly, I got a few nice pics. Mom loved them and she wants me to do more. I am reading online, watching tutorials and soaking up as much as I can.

I know I need a flash, a reflector and a better lens. I would like to start with acquiring those things and then after practicing for a year or so, upgrade my camera. My current camera has been great for learning on so far, but I know I will not have images as good as the competition if I don't upgrade my gear, right?

Where I need help:

* I would like to know what is recommended for a Canon lens, reflector and flash for general portrait photography.

* What is a decent Canon to upgrade to that I can take good quality portraits with? I am willing to spend in the $500 range.

* I know it is different for everyone, but what do you feel is considered a decent amount of time and practice one should have under their belt before they should think of charging?

I am new to this site. Any help is appreciated. Thank you for any feedback. :-D

R. Lyn




  
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MalVeauX
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Post edited over 4 years ago by MalVeauX. (5 edits in all)
     
Jun 17, 2015 21:29 |  #2

rlynphoto wrote in post #17601278 (external link)
Where I need help:

* I would like to know what is recommended for a Canon lens, reflector and flash for general portrait photography.

* What is a decent Canon to upgrade to that I can take good quality portraits with? I am willing to spend in the $500 range.

* I know it is different for everyone, but what do you feel is considered a decent amount of time and practice one should have under their belt before they should think of charging?

I am new to this site. Any help is appreciated. Thank you for any feedback. :-D

R. Lyn

Heya,

First, you don't need a new camera even. Even that lens is fine. Portrait photography is a lot of things. What style you want to do is more the factor that will determine what equipment you will want in the future.

For now, I'll suggest you not purchase a camera & lens for portrait. You already have that. What you do NOT have is lighting, and lighting with good composition technique will produce far better portraits than a newer camera, or better newer lens. Learn lighting before you worry about the camera & lens. It will take you way farther in this.

So if you have money to spend, go to the Flash & Lighting forum and start there. Lots of good stickies and people with info. Put that $500 towards a handful of good entry strobes, or a fleet of good speedlites and a few modifiers. Get ready for off camera flash/lighting. You can go far with $500 actually. And you'll get way more out of it than you will from a new camera & lens regarding portrait.

As for turning it into a business, it's totally dependent on your location, area and demand. Everyone has a few facebook photographers in their area code, so you have to see what's already local and see what people are actually buying. This will be the greatest challenge, to turn this into an actual profitable business. And it will be much more profitable if you don't get caught up in needing expensive equipment, and focus rather on how to simply make good portraits with anything you have.

***********

That said, here's a quick purchase list of where I'd go with this:

Keep your XT for now. It's good enough! Shoot it at ISO 100 and ISO 200 for print quality.

Yongnuo 50mm F1.8 for Canon, $55 on Ebay shipped. This is your outdoor portrait lens. You can use it indoor too, but it may be long there.
Keep your 18-55 for indoor portraits, shoot it at F8 or so. You will use it with lighting. Also good for groups at wider angle (18mm~35mm or so).

To buy:

Lighting stands (comes with 2), $25 (external link)
S-bracket (with bowen's mount) speedlite mount (holds umbrellas too) (get TWO), $20 each (external link)
Yongnuo 560TX (controller) + TWO Yongnuo 560 III's (wireless manual flashes), whole combo set for $178 (external link)
Westscott 45" umbrella with black cover (get TWO), $30 each (external link)
Yongnuo 50mm F1.8 lens, $53 (external link)
Rechargeable batteries (8 x AA's), $20 (external link)
Rechargeable batteries (4 x AA's), $12 (external link)
Battery charger station, $10 (external link)

$400.

Note, this is 100% portable and wireless and can be toted folded down in a bag!

***************

Why I'm saying keep your XT, here's a very similar camera, the XSi at ISO 400 with a cheap $150 lens (and no fancy lightroom/photoshop editing):

IMAGE: https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7676/17209099069_24a97c428a_z.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/sdH8​AD  (external link) IMG_8939 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Plenty good enough quality for print. You don't need expensive stuff for fun, simple outdoor portrait that people gobble up with their kids and stuff.

But, regardless of the equipment, lighting can take a normal moment, a common capture, and transform it into something really dynamic and striking and interesting. Here's a single speedlite off camera, to the left of the camera, at close range with a big modifier (umbrella/softbox) late in the evening (on inexpensive gear) (Note, this is pretty much straight out of camera, no fancy editing):

IMAGE: https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5442/17796943152_15a2b54ed5_z.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/t7DZ​as  (external link) IMG_3929 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Learn light and practice. And don't spend a ton of money on fancy glass, it's not necessary!

Note: I'm not a professional, I'm just an amateur/hobbyist.

Very best,

My Flickr (external link) :: My Astrobin (external link)

  
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itsallart
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Jun 17, 2015 21:40 |  #3

MalVeauX wrote in post #17601311 (external link)
Heya,

First, you don't need a new camera even. Even that lens is fine. Portrait photography is a lot of things. What style you want to do is more the factor that will determine what equipment you will want in the future.

For now, I'll suggest you not purchase a camera & lens for portrait. You already have that. What you do NOT have is lighting, and lighting with good composition technique will produce far better portraits than a newer camera, or better newer lens. Learn lighting before you worry about the camera & lens. It will take you way farther in this.

So if you have money to spend, go to the Flash & Lighting forum and start there. Lots of good stickies and people with info. Put that $500 towards a handful of good entry strobes, or a fleet of good speedlites and a few modifiers. Get ready for off camera flash/lighting. You can go far with $500 actually. And you'll get way more out of it than you will from a new camera & lens regarding portrait.

As for turning it into a business, it's totally dependent on your location, area and demand. Everyone has a few facebook photographers in their area code, so you have to see what's already local and see what people are actually buying. This will be the greatest challenge, to turn this into an actual profitable business. And it will be much more profitable if you don't get caught up in needing expensive equipment, and focus rather on how to simply make good portraits with anything you have.

Very best,

I fully agree with MalVeauX, it's not necessarily a matter of having a great lens or camera. You could shoot wonderful portraits or any other shots with what you have, provided you use natural light. But then again you will benefit from some additional lighting and from learning the techniques involved in having your subject nicely lit and exposed. On top of it you want to be somewhat creative with your shots.
I started with a Rebel and the same lens as you have and my shots were just fine, not perfect but just fine.
Photography is about seeing things and being creative. Some photographers can deliver lovely shots with kit lenses but they know their trade well enough to understand that the devil is in the details. Keep reading and learning...you are on a right track :) Best of luck too !


Renata
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Submariner
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Jun 17, 2015 21:56 |  #4

If you are charging money, you have to shoot when and where they dictate. So you cant rely on natural lighting in my view.

I think money is well spent on lights first, also have you editing software? You might need it. :-)


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ebiggs
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Jun 17, 2015 23:04 |  #5

Great photos are 1/2 camera/lens, 1/2 editing and 1/2 you. Not necessarily in that order. And as you will learn, it does make sense.


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bumpintheroad
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Jun 17, 2015 23:44 |  #6

There are benefits to be had from upgrading the body and lens. However, I think you're not at a point yet where you need to worry about those benefits, and in any event, the cost of going from where you are to where you ultimately might want to be is going to far exceed $500.

Right now you should concentrate on lighting, exposure, composition and posing, perhaps some post processing as well. Master these areas with the gear you have and by then you'll have a better idea of what you need in terms of a new camera body and lenses.

The setup Malveaux suggests would be a reasonable start. I would suggest four YN560's, either version III or IV as they have built-in RF trigger receivers. Why four? Because if you're shooting outdoors in sunlight you will need to combine two or three YN560's to overpower the Sun, and you should always have at least one spare in case of failure when you're shooting for money.

If you can see yourself to spending more you should consider monolights with a battery pack such as the Paul C. Buff Alien Bees B800's (two) and Vagabond Mini (battery pack for outdoors use), with Yongnou YN-622C triggers. The monolights are much more powerful than shoe-mounted flashes and also provide a modeling light. With the YN-622c's you can also do Hypersync so you can shoot at higher shutter speeds when outdoors.


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gonzogolf
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Jun 17, 2015 23:46 |  #7

I'm struggling to remain positive about your business aspirations. For now, work on getting competent and then worry anout turning pro. Keep your camera, buy better lenses and a flash, then learn how to use them.




  
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texkam
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Jun 18, 2015 01:30 |  #8

Agree with the above. Some more thoughts....


YouTube is your friend!

Contine to master manual. Shoot in raw.

Learn about the effect of focal length on portrait photography. You may find, at some point, you'll want to invest in something longer than 55mm. My $500 70-200 f4L shoots wonderful portraits.

Learn off-camera flash.
http://www.strobist.bl​ogspot.com/ (external link)
I own 4 Yongnuo speedlights and a pair of Yongnuo wireless triggers and like them very much. Actually, my speedlights have a built in receiver, so I can potentially fire all four with just only one trigger.

Budget for storage space. You'll soon need more.

Post your work here and be open to honest criticism.




  
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rlynphoto
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Jun 18, 2015 21:41 |  #9

Wow. Thanks so much for the great feedback. :-)

To be more specific, I would like to do photography part-time to start and I know that will be down the road a bit. I am currently a stay-at-home mom and my youngest is starting school this fall. Being that I have not worked in 13 years, I am looking for a way to make money doing what I enjoy while having a little more control over my schedule than I would have with a 9-5. While I will most likely work any old job for now while I improve my photography on the side, I am setting a goal to actually be paid for my photography (and be really good at it) as far away as 5 years from now. I understand that it takes a long term vision and I will not be shooting weddings or anything overnight.

I live in a destination wedding type of small town in the south. There are many photographers here which feels totally discouraging, (especially when I look at their work), but I am totally stoked about my network of people, friends and professionals. I am friends with my Congressman and his TV personality wife. I know other elected officials, business owners and my husband works with several neurosurgeons. These are well respected people who could give me a lot of referrals and many of them are also close friends. There is definite client potential for me as a photographer. A popular local restaurant/bar has used up to five of my food/drink photos on their social media accounts and website.

While I have only done one photo session for my neighbor, she and her husband are already sharing the photos I took for them on Facebook with good feedback and they are wanting to give me referrals. I told them, "No way, not yet!" She works in an elementary school and has offered to tell all the co-workers/parents about me. Yikes! I know I am not experienced enough to charge, but I want to take the chance to improve and gain experience if someone wants to give me the opportunity; but it's still time consuming and it's still a service and I have three kids and a husband who works 17 hour days. -? I don't want to spend hours on someone's shoot/photos for free. I also don't expect to charge upwards of hundreds of dollars or anything either. I am really not sure what to do about it.

I wanted to spend up to $500 on a new camera thinking it would improve my images, but if it is wiser to put that money towards other things, then that is definitely what I will do. I know I have so much to learn. I get ISO, WB and aperture, but I don't get is changing the F stop 1/xxxx thing while I'm shooting. I shoot RAW manual, I am sure that I am changing it, I just don't know what I am doing to change it. I think it is the dial I am turning on top of my camera? I have read my manual and when I think it makes sense, it's like I confuse myself by over thinking it. I must sound really newbie and stupid. LOL My brother asked me to do family photos for him next weekend. It will be outdoors (natural light is where my heart is) but I will only be using my current 18-55mm to do it, no flash. I will use that as an opportunity to focus on posing, lighting and composition. One question, though. He has a 3 year old. I normally use AV because it's the only thing I've felt safe with, but since the kid is probably not going to hold very still, is it okay to use auto focus? I heard that there is a way to set your manual stuff and then turn it to auto, but I have never even done that before. So much to learn.

Thanks so much, you guys all ROCK.




  
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gonzogolf
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Jun 18, 2015 21:44 |  #10

Part time to start? How about spend a couple of years learning the craft before you even consider charging a dime. Its not so simple as you think




  
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rlynphoto
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Jun 18, 2015 22:06 as a reply to  @ MalVeauX's post |  #11

This is fantastic and those are really beautiful images. Thank you so much for all this informative and encouraging feedback. :)




  
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Jun 18, 2015 22:24 |  #12

If there are several established photographers in your area then my best advice would be to see if any are looking for help. Start off as an assistant, progress to second shooter then primary shooter as you learn and gain experience.

On the technical side you need to learn exposure so you can "get" that "F stop 1/xxxx thing while shooting." Check out the book recommendations in the thread: https://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthre​ad.php?t=53846.


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rlynphoto
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Jun 18, 2015 22:26 as a reply to  @ gonzogolf's post |  #13

Oh, I know for sure that it isn't simple. I meant that I want to learn in my spare time right now and eventually make money doing it part-time to start. By part-time to start, I mean I don't know if I would want to do it full-time like some people do, but I won't rule it out. I have given myself a 5 year goal to be good enough to be paid for things like senior/kids/family portraits or maybe engagement sessions. In other words, practicing now and hopefully being paid part-time in about 5 years from now. If I can do it sooner, even better.

As far as charging right now, I have no intentions of formally charging anyone. I am talking about what to "charge" when people offer to pay me because they want me to take their photos. I am busy mom and my time is valuable to me. Most people whom I have spoken to about it do not expect me to do it for nothing. I have no experience in this, so that's why I wanted to see what others thought.

Thanks for the input! :)




  
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rlynphoto
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Jun 19, 2015 00:07 as a reply to  @ Submariner's post |  #14

I do have Lightroom 6. Photoshop is something I would definitely like to buy/learn in the future.




  
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Jun 19, 2015 06:34 |  #15

I would not bother about manual focus, particularly for "wiggly" kids.
The reason is an XT has a small, not very bright viewfinder and it really was designed for autofocus. Not saying you can't manual focus with it but it's not the easiest body to autofocus with.

I would not think about upgrading anything yet (except your flash)
A built in flash is a very ordinary way of providing extra light.

So get an external flash (one that fits in the hotshoe on your camera) and you can try it out direct, and also (when inside) bouncing flash off roof or walls. Next probably a flash modifier (a way to difuse the light from he flash) or maybe a flash bracket so you can move the flash off the axis of the camera.

If you go getting a complete kit of flash, reflectors / umbrellas triggers etc it will be overwhelming.


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