Portrait Photography Gear Guide

Last Updated on April 4, 2021

Being a professional portrait photographer is a very exciting job. There are many different types of photography but portrait photography is a favorite for many people because of the connection to the person in the photo. There are lots of portrait photographers out there and this article will help you know what equipment you need to start up your own business or just get really good at it.

What Type of Camera is Best for Portrait Photography?

portrait photography studio

There are two types of cameras you can buy. A point and shoot camera or a DSLR camera. If you are just starting out, I would recommend getting a point and shoot camera for your first set of photo gear. The reason is because it is much easier to learn on a smaller digital camera and you don’t have to spend as much money. The point and shoot’s are made for taking casual shots and they usually have no manual settings available so it is harder to go back and change your photos.

The second type of camera to get is a DSLR. This type of camera can take amazing photographs. You can change many of the settings as well as some manual lens options with this type of camera instead of just relying on auto settings.

Canon and Nikon are usually the two best brands of camera to buy. You should check out both of them and see which one you like better, they both offer new cameras that have similar features so just see what is a good deal for you.

What Type of Lens is Best for Portrait Photography?

You can purchase a standard lens with your camera, but sometimes it’s not enough to get professional-quality portraits. A zoom lens is a much better option. You will be able to get more in-focus subjects but you also have the ability to zoom in on any part of your photo. This will help you get more detail and zoom in closer to your subject for portrait photography. The range of a zoom lens is usually between 35mm and 150mm so it depends what kind of photos you are looking to take.

What Light is Best for Portrait Photography?

The type of light you need for your portraits depends on the type of photo you are going to take. If you are going to do full body shots, it is better to use natural light on your subject instead of studio lighting. This will give a much more realistic look and help show them in their environment instead of making them look like they came out of a photo shoot.

If you are going to take shots of people indoors, it is best to use a softbox with a beauty dish. A softbox is made for bouncing light into a desired direction and it will help you get the perfect light for any type of photography by shaping the light at your desired angle. The beauty dish produces more overhead lighting and it can be hung over your subject rather than put in front of them. The beauty dish will give you a broad directional light and will work great for taking studio shots, portraits, etc.

The lighting is very important when you are doing any type of photography because if there is too much or too little, nothing will look good. The best type of light to use is natural light or a softbox because it is more natural and doesn’t look over-processed and fake.

What Lighting Equipment is Needed for Portrait Photography?

The lighting equipment required for portrait photography depends on what you are going to use the lights for. If you are just going to take kids portraits in your home or outdoors, you will need an umbrella and a reflector.

If you are doing more studio lighting, this is the equipment I would recommend.

Softbox – This is the most important piece of equipment for portrait photography because it will give you soft and even light on your subject and can be adjusted to fit any type of image.

Light Stand – You need a stand to hold the softbox so it doesn’t fall over and get damaged.

Beauty Dish – The beauty dish is made for overhead lighting and can also be used for a backlight. This will give you a more defined direction and can fill in the shadows on your subject’s face.

Flash Unit – The flash unit will give you a light to fill in any shadows that are left in the portrait image. If you are photographing your subject outdoors, you can take photos with natural sunlight and flash your subject with a different light. The only problem with this is the flash can ruin your skin tone if it’s too bright and you might not be able to get a good portrait because of the effects of the flash.

What Backdrops are Needed for Portrait Photography?

For portraits, you will usually need a backdrop but there are so many different ones to choose from that it can be hard to know what you want. Here is a list of the different kinds of backdrops you can buy for portrait photography:

Tabletop Backdrop – These are popular backdrops for portrait photography because you can use them as instant backdrops and they can be hung in seconds. You will need to buy two if you want more coverage but it may be pricey depending on the size that you get. They usually come in two colors, black and white, and are made of fabric that drapes over the top of your table with Velcro. This makes it easy to put up and take down.

Background Stand – These are a great option if you want something more permanent than a tabletop backdrop. You attach it to a sturdy back and hang it from the ceiling or a wall so that you can take your portrait photos in any room of your house. The downside is it can be hard to set up and hang, but once they are up they will last for years so you could have one in every room if you want.

Ceiling Lights – If you have a large room you can buy a set of lights that will be suspended above your ceiling. This is made to light up the walls and make anything underneath look dramatic. This makes it great for glamour photography because you can make your subject stand in front of this light and let it do all the work. You don’t have to worry about how big the light is because it will make everything else look bigger than they really are.


A tripod is a very important piece of equipment when it comes to portrait photography because you need to have a camera that is stable. It can be a little hard for children to stay still, especially if they are bored or scared. If you snap that perfect shot and your subject isn’t looking the right way, the image won’t be worth anything.

Now you know what kind of equipment you need for portrait photography so let’s talk about how to use it.


Portrait photography is one of the most popular types of photography because everyone wants to take a picture of themselves or their family. Once you master the art of portrait photography you can start taking more pictures. Whether it’s for fun or because it’s your profession, having the right equipment and knowing how to use it will work for you. Now that you know what kind of gear is needed and what types are available, you can go out and buy what you need to start making great pictures.