15 Essential Gear You Must Have for Portrait Photography

15 Essential Gear You Must Have for Portrait Photography

It may be the first time that you start your journey of studio photography. Everything can be overwhelming and even daunting for beginners, especially setting up your studio. You need to understand what it takes to create an effective studio environment and how to execute your photographic vision.

To help you start studio portrait photography, here is a checklist of studio photography essentials:

Choose a Workspace

The first step to starting your studio photography shoot is to find an ideal space. It can be an individual studio inside or outside your house or even a designated space in your home. Entering a workspace will help you quickly get into the state and raise your work productivity. And that determines what you need for your requirements.

If you are interested in the specific interior design of a professional studio, here is a relative blog: Guides To Building A Home Photograph Studio.

Cameras& Lenses

You don’t have to update all your gear for your studio photography. Everyone has his or her own preference. But you should know that some lenses do not fit studio portraits.

For studio portraits, a prime lens of 50mm, 85mm always works awesome, especially those with a large aperture (f/1.4, f/1.8), which let more lights through, create beautiful bokeh, express the facial features. Meanwhile, a 24-70mm zoom lens is also a good choice for indoor shooting.


A tripod will reduce camera movement and improves picture quality, helping support your camera in the perfect position, allows you to focus on sessions without breaking the shot.


Photography backdrop is an essential gear for professional studio photographers. They are versatile, durable, and reusable. It can be regarded as one of the leading roles in your studio beside the camera. 

Foxbackdrop provides professional vinyl backdrop for all types of photography. With the advantage of winkle-free, high-definition and easy-to-clean, Foxbackdrop is suitable for all sessions, especially the cake smash, baby photography and portrait photography. You can also search the material you want in other company, such as Katebackdrop. 

Backdrop Stand System

A backdrop stand will raise your work efficiency and help you make the most of backdrops. The stand is not only used to hang the backdrop, but also helps to eliminate the winkles and reflections of the backdrop. With the stand system, you can setup your session anywhere you want, which provides more flexibility to your shooting. Here we also have a blog that discusses the mounting system in detail: Guides to choosing backdrop mounting system.

Floor Drop

Floor drops offer an opportunity to set a complete scene for your studio portraits. You can make the most of a backdrop with a floor drop. The right floor drop will blend in as smoothly as possible with your backdrop, and create the best background for your photos.

If you do not have a spare space for a floor drop, you can also choose those backdrops which have the floor part themselves.

Continuous Light

Continuous light can be full-color RGB lamps, or a soft light LED, as the light source that ongoing when you turn that on! The light you see is the light you get. To some extent, you may find it is convenient for shooting and posing. You can achieve the visual effect by doing some adjustments.


Speedlight is the flash device that generates a rapid burst of light. It’s powerful and effective. There is no unnecessary light and can be adjusted and modified for an extensive range of creative control. With remote trigger and modifiers, you can solve shadows, noise, and help to still subjects. But remember to preview by the shoot.

Light Modifier

Light Modifier is another mandatory equipment for professional photographers. It helps soften or strengthen the light for specific demand. The most frequently used modifiers are umbrella, softbox and grid. Umbrella is the cheapest but versatile one. A softbox makes light soft, flattering, and malleable. Changing the angle and proximity of the softbox to the subject easily changes the quality and direction of light. Grid gives the photographer more control on the light by restricting the focus and providing more directional light.


A diffuser is another must-have in portrait photography. A white surface reflector is used to bounce the light back on the subject. It helps to soften the shadows and brighten the dark part. A black one is used to block the light and add more shadows to the photo.    

There are a variety of materials that can be used as a reflector. A foam board is the most cheap-but-functional one. You can get it at any craft store. Besides, the V-flat foam board can stand on itself. The most versatile and cost-efficient one is the 5-in-1 collapsible translucent diffuser. There are four color sides in the pack, white, black, gold and silver. It can be folded in small size and lightweight for travel.

Remote flash triggers

Remote flash triggers allow your camera to control flash without a direct connection to the camera. That allows the flash to fire in accurate time for the shoot. A remote flash trigger gives you more flexibility in whole process of shooting. What’s more, an updated trigger could be used for versatile functions, such as synchronization delay setting, wireless shutter release and zoom setting. It can also enable 2 flashes at one time, definitely leveling your shooting experiences.

Light meter

As a basic gear in studio lighting sets, a light meter helps to get the most accurate readings of light. The greatest advantage of light meter is that you can not only use it to read ambient light or flash, but also most lighting conditions in photography. Thus, a light meter is a rather excellent gear for your portrait photography.

A laptop

Tether your camera to a computer is absolutely a qualitative leap to your photography career, which makes your life quite easier. You can not only see the immediate images after the shooting, but also notice the slightly differences to pick the great ones. Besides, you can also use it as a tool to show your model what poses or expressions are much better. Trust me, the images make more sense.

Apple box

If you want to find a place for your subject to sit in your photography, a apple box is the perfect choice. It is also versatile in the situation where you may need to add some height to get a more proper performance.

Grip kit

A grip kit should include all the things that you may need to use during the session. For example, you may need some clamps to fix the backdrop, tapes to secure the props, cords to tether and connect electronic devices and so on. Think thoroughly about a normal shooting scenario and pick the things for your specific need. Prepare in advance is always a wise choice.

At the very beginning of your photography career, only buy the top essential gears that support your work. As time goes by, upgrade and supplement your arsenal to meet the new demands as the budget allows.


Relative articles:

How To Choose Backdrop Size

Guides To Building A Home Photograph Studio

Guides To Choosing Backdrop Mounting System

TOP 5 Entry-Level Canon Cameras For New Photographers


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