I am a professional makeup artist who is looking for good equipment that fits my needs as artist. I want to use this camera to be able to collect high quality images to add to my website portfolio. I don't know much about photography but I am very tech savy and willing to take a photography class after I purchase my first camera. The types of photos I would be taking would be close ups of faces. My current budget is around 500 dollars.

I am very overwhelmed & would love if someone could direct me towards the right equipment. I am looking for equipment to take with me specifically for bridal freelance jobs that I do. A lot of times as a bridal hair and makeup artist I find myself doing amazing work and seldom get any quality images back from the bride or professional wedding photographers. I am looking for equipment to take with on the job so I can snap a few good before and afters of my work just in case I don't get any images from the real photographer. Here is an example of the quality I am looking to take....http://static1.squarespace.com/static/53694e0fe4b0d6b26e1c5e0f/537bbe30e4b057eec109654e/53b58615e4b0203515eaba2c/1404405289454/Sabrina+Jones+before+and+after.jpg

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    Ashley - Welcome to the site! This is not an equipment recommendation website or a shopping site per say. We much would prefer to help give you the knowledge necessary to purchase what works well for you vs give you the name of model XYZ. I know that this seems really odd for a photography site, but I would highly recommend editing your question to ask "What type of equipment would work well for portraits of makeup clients?" or similar. Focus on what type of equipment and techniques are necessary, not links to Amazon or specific models. Thx!
    – dpollitt
    Nov 29 '15 at 19:36
  • Note that the standard kit lenses are usually 18-55mm, not 35mm, which makes a big difference.
    – mattdm
    Nov 30 '15 at 20:08

I don't want to rain on your parade, but in my estimation being tech savvy, taking a photography class, and having a $500 budget is not a realistic expectation of all the gear and preparation you're going to need to take the type of photos you're probably visualizing, if you're thinking of white seamless work where it's just a single-color (typically white) background and the subject, as with magazine shoots.

Studio portrait shooting--especially full-length portrait shooting--is more of an undertaking than some folks realize. The preparation/budget you're visualizing could just about allow you to take good natural light photography, and if you also throw in learning how to light and a $350-$400 budget for lighting gear, you could possibly add location head and torso shots to that. And you need to absolutely master ambient-only shooting before you start flash photography, because that's a whole 'nother bucket of exposure-think to absorb.

Portrait studio work, however, not only requires learning to light and having the gear, but also having the right workspace set up. And for full length white seamless shots, that'll possibly require more space than you realize. (See Zack Arias's white seamless tutorials).

So you may want to reset some expectations. This isn't just a question of gear. It's gear and experience and whole LOT of learning. And $500 doesn't get you very much gear in dSLR land. You might, if you're really lucky and willing to go for a used body, get a good $200-300 entry-level dSLR or mirrorless body. But only $200 for the glass doesn't leave you with many choices (maybe an 35 or 50mm f/1.8?), and nothing for support or lighting gear. Realistically, to equip yourself with a good basic dSLR setup, you need a budget closer to $1000. There are lenses than can cost you four figures, let alone body+lens combinations. And a simple low-cost Strobist two-light setup will probably be at least $350-$400 for basic lights, stands, adapters, umbrellas, and triggers.

Can you do this with just an 18-55 kit lens or 50/1.8? Absolutely. Will you want to? Mmmm...probably not. Can you do this well without lighting gear? I'd say not. You might be able to get by with a simple reflector, but at some point, you're gonna want lights. Budget accordingly. And don't expect to master this all right away. There's a reason some folks can make a living doing this.

See also: How can I get started with a first flash gun?

  • Thank you for the helpful advice. I probably should have been clear when I said I wanted equipment to use to get quality portfolio images for my website... I am not looking to photograph my entire portfolio myself! I leave that up to the professionals! I am looking for equipment to take with me specifically for bridal freelance jobs that I do. A lot of times as a bridal hair and makeup artist I find myself doing amazing work and seldom get any quality images back from the bride or professional wedding photographers!
    – Ashley
    Nov 30 '15 at 19:39
  • I am looking for equipment to take with on the job so I can snap a few good before and afters of my work just in case I don't get any images from the real photographer. Here is an example of the quality of photos I am looking to take.... static1.squarespace.com/static/53694e0fe4b0d6b26e1c5e0f/…
    – Ashley
    Nov 30 '15 at 19:39

The first thing that comes to my mind is utilizing a ring-flash. A ring flash is a specialized type of flash that gives a very recognizable ring catchlight in your subjects eyes that typically has little to no shadows present at all. It has been popular with fashion, event, and portrait photographers in the past.

Some more information we have here already includes:

Beyond a ring-flash, I would recommend you look at some of the following existing questions to get started with your first purchase:

  • Hum... A ring flash could not be flattering for a bride... It makes an "urban" look.
    – Rafael
    Nov 30 '15 at 22:48
  • @Rafael - It can create a certain type of look that is quite common in fashion. If the OP desires this look or not is up to them. See the first and second linked to questions I provided for more info or to add your own answer on that specific topic. Moreover, the question noted that they want to document before/after makeup. It's quite possible that they want to actually show off each blemish before and the lack of blemishes after. I'm not suggesting at all that a ring flash is the end all answer, that's why I provided many more links to help here.
    – dpollitt
    Nov 30 '15 at 22:50
  • Yes. It could be an interesting option.
    – Rafael
    Nov 30 '15 at 23:07

35mm would be generally felt to be on the very short side fpr portrait type images, which presumably this is what these images are. A web search (or on this site) re lenses and portrait photography will give you a feel of what results you are liable top achieve. An 18-35mm lens is often (but not invariably) a lower cost kit lens. Results can be good (or not) but seldom superb. You can get wider ranging somewhat budget zooms at acceptable cost). The very best portrait photos would usually use prime lenses BUT very acceptable results can be had with zoom lenses.

Comparison of results from different focal lengths from here - note that this is with a D750 full frame camera. Add about 50% to the focallengthj (ie mulktiply by your camera's crop factor) for an eg APSC sensor. eg a 35mm on a crop body is the same as ABOUT a 50 mm in the image set below.

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Larger image version

The classic "Afghan girl" image used a 105mm prime lens.

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Another example page here

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More examples

And more


From here - looks like a useful site.


My 2 cents.

For your case. Lets forget about the camera for now.

1) Place the bride next to a big open window, light on one side and take some pictures.

Do not point at the window so the camera does not think there is too much light and obscure the photo. You could practice with your cellphone (see the point 4).

Actually, you could get away with this technique. The problem is that a cellphone has a too wide lens for a nice portrait. There are some lenses that atach over the phone, but they could not be the best option in terms of quality.

A compact camera could deliver some nicer results with just this natural light.

2) If you do not have a nice window with natural daylight you could use a strobe light (there is one affordable chinese brand that delivers good quality flashes) Buy a remote control too. It could be something like this: http://www.amazon.com/YONGNUO-YN-560-Bundle-RF-603-Transceiver/dp/B00G8UFNHG

And shoot on the celling or to a white wall. Have fun learning this.

3) Now. The camera. The camera needs to have a hotshoe to use with the offcamera flash. And should have a manual mode.

4) The lens. A wide lens as the other people comented is NOT good for a bride. So use a camera that delivers some zoom and step back like 2 mts.

5) Now you need to practice and learn the basics. But have fun doing it.

  • As far as lighting I have a makeup light that i take on location with me. It is LED and supposed to be very similar natural sunlight. It is an energy-saving LED Panel of refracted light measuring 4800K with a projection of 5ft and a lumen of 2500.... It was very expensive so I plan to use this for my light source when taking pictures. This is what it looks like...google.com/…
    – Ashley
    Dec 1 '15 at 3:12
  • Should I still get a camera with a hotshoe?
    – Ashley
    Dec 1 '15 at 3:13
  • A hotshoe will make your camera prepared if you want to expand. But I sugest that you start taking pictures with your led light and your cellphone. Probably post them on this site and recive feedback. If this sourcelight is well positioned there is a good chance it is enough, inclusive for video.
    – Rafael
    Dec 1 '15 at 13:09

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