If you’re a volume photographer, you understand the importance of efficiency and delivering high-quality images in a fast-paced environment. Having the right gear is essential to achieving these goals.
This blog will dive into the gear needs specific to volume photography and explore equipment to help you streamline your workflow, capture great images, and exceed your customers’ expectations.
Discussing everything from cameras and lenses to lighting setups and accessories, we’ll cover everything you need to gear up for success. We’ll also provide insights on when and how you can save money by buying gently used gear.
Does High-Quality Gear Matter?
You probably guessed our answer from the intro—yes, it absolutely matters! Timeframes are tight on picture day, leaving no room for an equipment malfunction. We’re not saying you always need brand-new gear, but it should be reliable and in good condition.
Every school, dance studio, and youth sports league is different. Sometimes you have plenty of room to set up and work; other times, you may find yourself in tighter quarters. Your gear must be versatile for either scenario while handling the rigors of being constantly set up and taken down.
Your studio’s equipment must be portable, dependable, and versatile to capture the best photos most efficiently. When selecting your gear, it is crucial to do your due diligence. If you need to acquire something new, ask colleagues, read reviews, and check online forums for other volume photography pros to find out what make, model, or gear style they recommend.
Once you’ve zeroed in on your desired gear, we recommend checking out Robert’s Camera for excellent pricing, selection, and service on new and refurbished equipment.
Buying Used Photography Gear
Remember, you don’t always need the latest equipment to get the job done. You simply need gear you know will handle the demands of volume photography. Whether you are assembling your first location kit or expanding your inventory to support your growing business, consider buying used.
Finding items in the secondary marketplace is the best way to acquire quality equipment without breaking the bank. Finding what you are looking for can take legwork and patience, but the cost savings will be worth the effort.
Treat a used purchase the same as a new purchase. Research the item and make sure it will serve its intended purpose. Understand the seller's return and warranty policies if you buy from a well-known marketplace like eBay or the B&H Photo Used Department. Usedphotopro is a trusted PhotoDay partner for pre-owned gear. They have a vast inventory, offer free shipping, and extend a 180-day product warranty. If buying from an individual, rigorously inspect the condition and test the equipment’s functionality before exchanging money.
Facebook groups and other forums can also be excellent sources for finding second-hand gear. Asking about a specific piece of equipment will likely get you a lot of information and an offer to buy something a group member is no longer using. Members can also share their tips, tricks, and websites for successfully sourcing great secondhand gear, which will expand your options and increase your buying power.
Volume Photography Gear You Need to Get Started
A well-equipped studio is essential for success. Here is a list of gear you will need to capture and deliver high volumes of quality images efficiently:
Great lighting makes a huge difference in the quality of your photos and the post-processing time. When building your volume photography site kit, you’ll need some essentials to control the outcome of your photographs.
If you’re starting from scratch or ready to improve your photos' quality, Lvl Up Imaging has powerful tools and systems designed to create high-quality lighting with less equipment in tighter spaces. If you go the more traditional route, here’s what you may need:
- (2) off-camera flashes with umbrellas: The straight-on lighting from your camera’s built-in or on-camera flash can be intense, too flat, and wash out your subject. Off-camera flashes sync with your camera, enabling you to position them at ideal angles, while the umbrellas soften the lighting and prevent shadows. Do your research before purchasing to ensure compatibility with your camera.
- (2) continuous lights with softboxes: Continuous lights with softboxes provide soft light to fill dark spaces evenly if the light is low or fill in shadows if the ambient lighting is harsh. Continuous lights and softboxes come in many shapes and sizes. Select a model with maximum portability and versatility for your shooting locations. You should also consider Pro Light Mods to see how you can creatively transform your lightboxes for more dramatic, unique photoshoots.
- (1) large reflector: A reflector redirects light toward your photography subject. Like a softbox, it effectively fills light in dark spaces or reduces shadows. Find a reflector with multiple colored sides like gold, white, silver, and scrim. Each color redirects light differently, providing maximum versatility for indoor and outdoor sessions.
- (3) light stands: To position your lighting perfectly, you need portable light stands with simple height adjustment. When rounding out your gear, paying attention to a light stand's load capacity is essential. The stand you choose must be capable of supporting the weight of your light and any modifiers, like reflectors, softboxes, and continuous flashes.
- (1) light meter: An accurate reading of the light concentration around your subject is crucial to produce well-exposed photos since this measurement determines your shutter speed, aperture, and ISO values. There are a wide variety of light meters available. Important factors to consider when choosing one are metering range, ease of use, compatibility with your camera, and indoor/outdoor versatility and accuracy.
Volume photography can test the limits of a camera and its accessories in terms of durability and versatility of shooting locations. While you don’t necessarily need the newest, most expensive camera, you should consider a camera’s features, longevity, and durability. Whichever kind you purchase, make sure it will withstand the rigorous photo sessions you will put it through.
- Full-frame camera: Full-frame cameras let in more light and produce cleaner, more detailed images in all lighting conditions. They also provide better depth-of-field control so your subjects stand out against a background. Full-frame images perform better in post-processing, too. Additional data stored in the photo enables you to crop it without compromising image quality. If you’re on the market for a DSLR, a strong recommendation is the Canon R6 Mark II or the Nikon Z6 II which both have all the features volume photographers need at a great price point. If your budget allows, mirrorless cameras have an incredible amount of helpful features that can streamline your picture day and post-processing workflow.
- Lenses: There is a vast array of lens sizes at varying price points available to photographers, but you should be able to capture all your volume photography images with a 24-70mm lens for wide shots and a 70-200mm lens for tighter shots. We recommend investing in “fast glass” with an aperture of F/2.8 or wider. Since lenses generally outlive the camera body, splurging on high quality glass is a valid investment. Not all lenses fit all camera bodies, so ensure compatibility before purchasing, particularly if you buy from an individual or company that doesn’t allow returns. If a particular lens isn't compatible with your camera, in some cases, you can purchase an adapter accessory.
- Tripod: The tripod holds your camera steady while taking pictures. You should look for sturdy, durable, and easy-to-set-up tripods. You should also be interested in features like a quick-release plate that saves time when attaching or removing your camera and rubber feet, which provide maximum stability on the various surfaces you will be setting up. Tripods can be a great way to stretch your creativity and streamline your workflow. Some photographers experiment with rolling, two-camera-mount tripods, and more!
Your volume photography equipment stack must also include some valuable supporting technology. It’s important to ensure your camera continues to run on shoot day and that you are prepared to store and back up the high quantity of photos you will be capturing.
- Extra batteries & rapid charger: Time is always of the essence on picture day. Keeping a battery charging while you are onsite protects you against any downtime. Modern chargers fully restore batteries within an hour. Remember that your battery pack is camera-specific, so make sure to choose the correct model charger for your device.
- Memory cards: It is always ideal to have plenty of backup memory cards in case the one in your camera fails or fills up. As a volume photographer, you will take many images rapidly, so you should focus on capacity and write speed when choosing a memory card. A 128GB memory card can hold between 4,000-7,500 images. Write speed is indicated by a “V” in the card’s full model name. This number determines how quickly your camera can store images on a memory card. Due to the high volume of photographs you will take in rapid succession, you will want a write speed above V60.
- External hard drive: External hard drives help keep data safe and organized without bogging down your computer. They also provide a convenient medium for moving photos from the site back to your studio to be processed for production using the office desktop. Today’s external hard drives offer extensive capacity at an affordable price. This Western Digital device offers 8 terabytes of storage and retails for only about $150. This SanDisk drive is slightly more costly but has integrated Thunderbolt 3 technology for lightning-fast Mac integration. Also consider adding a RAID (short for redundant array of independent disks) storage to your backup strategy. Check out this article all about recovering and preventing lost files to learn more about recommended backup systems.
- Transport: Moving all this gear will require free hands and extra precautions to keep your gear safe.
- Camera bags: From camera backpacks to shoulder bags to rolling suitcases—there are endless bag types designed with photographers in mind. They usually have pockets for memory cards, batteries, and chargers. They also boast cleverly designed padded compartments to keep your camera and lenses protected in transport. One highly-rated camera backpack choice is the DayChaser Travel Camera Pack which looks excellent and has configurable foam inserts to customize the bag just for you. Rolling bags and cases, like this Pelican Case, are also a favorite among volume photographers. If you’re frequenting airports, consider this Think Tank carry on roller bag.
- Collapsible Wagon: Now that your more fragile equipment is safely on your back, you will need a collapsible wagon to move bulkier gear in fewer trips. A sturdy collapsible wagon with all-terrain wheels is the perfect solution to move lights, stands, and backdrops and reduce your setup time. If you need more space, consider a double-decker wagon. Many options are available from many retailers, including sporting goods and big box stores. You can often find them secondhand at garage sales or local online marketplaces.
- Trailers: Depending on your setup and the amount of equipment you need to bring to picture day, consider a towable trailer. If you’re tight on trunk space, a small utility trailer could do the trick. If you want to go bigger, some photographers use large enclosed cargo trailers to create mobile studios. The options are endless!
Having the right equipment at the right time is essential to running any business. Since all your work occurs on location, volume photographers must be doubly prepared with everything you might need to finish a day’s session. Optimizing your picture day equipment stack will ensure you are ready for any challenges that come your way.
You don’t have to spend top dollar on top-of-the-line equipment. It is okay, even encouraged, to research the gear you need, then find the best price and value, whether new or used. Knowing what to bring along eliminates a lot of preparation. Now you can focus on marketing, selling, and taking the great pictures for which you are known!
PhotoDay offers a seamless experience without any expensive licenses or contracts. Our additional features, such as post-processing knockouts and color correction, can be easily integrated. We promise it’s fast and easy to get started and even provide a personalized one-on-one demo so you can be set up and start selling with PhotoDay within minutes, not hours or days! To explore further, embark on your game-changing journey with us now.