Along with the most commonly used camera and studio equipment items, we’ve also included our most-used office equipment as well as other costs you should consider when estimating how much money you will need to start your photography business.  Print, adapt, and add-to these checklists as you see fit to determine how much initial investment your photography business will require.

When putting together a list of the equipment you will need to start your photography business it can be easy to forget all but the most obvious of items. There are so many small bits of gear and gadgets that make shooting easier but that aren’t necessarily the first things that comes to mind when thinking of photographic equipment. This is especially the case if you shoot with artificial lighting.

We’ve listed most of these items here and have also included many non-photographic, but nonetheless very useful, items too. You could easily spend a few hundred dollars on this “extra” stuff, so it’s essential that you account for it right from the beginning when putting together your budget.

Our complete  professional photography equipment list is designed for you to use as a starting point for putting together an initial estimate of costs for a new, startup photography business. Although every photographer has a different style of shooting, target market, and technical needs, you can use this list as a basic guide to the cost of starting a photography business by budgeting for the items that are relevant to your particular photographic niche and working methods.

.pdf Version for download

Photography Equipment Checklist

Cameras – As a pro, you can’t risk being left without a camera on the job, so you’ll need a second camera body as a backup in case things go wrong.

Standard lenses – Perhaps a couple of decent zoom lenses and a fast fixed standard lens to start.

Specialized lenses – if you shoot real-estate, architecture or interiors you’ll need a tilt-shift lens. Sports photographers might need longer lenses or a fish-eye. Others will need a macro lens.

Lens filters

Tripod and head – With tripods you get what you pay for. Buy a good one now, rather than a cheap one today and then a good one in 6 months time when the cheap one inevitably ends up in the trash.

Mini/table-top tripod

Memory cards

Card reader

Spare camera battery

Battery charger

Lens and sensor cleaning kit

Portable flash

Spare flash batteries

Camera bag or wheeled case such as a Pelican

Pro Studio Expense List 

Continuous “hot” lighting

Portable or studio flash kits

Spare batteries for portable light packs

Head-to-pack extension cables

Standard floor stands

Short stands


Studio boom


Flash-sync cord – In case your radio-slaves get buggy



Soft box

Umbrella reflectors

Umbrella heads

Beauty dish




Light diffusion material, such as tracing paper or frost

Equipment bags

Flight cases

Paper backgrounds

Background stands or wall mount system

Sand bags

Desktop product-lighting tent

Folding reflectors


Large sheets of white or black paper/card – Can be taped to wall or floor to bounce/absorb light

Black flags/cutters


Light meter – Not as essential as it was in the days before digital, but some still prefer to use an exposure meter for greater accuracy.

Black marker



String/clothesline/fishing line

Bungee cords

Clamps from DIY store


Bedsheet or large black cloth – For model to change under on location, can also double as light diffusion material or blackout

Tupperware boxes – For storage (particularly good for protecting small but valuable bits of kit like Pocket Wizards)

Multiple outlet and extension cords

Small mirrors – Good for reflecting light onto still-life set-ups.

Polymer clay – For propping up and positioning mirrors.




Laptop stand

USB tether-cable

Office Items

Computer – For administration and photo retouching/editing

Calibrated professional monitor – For retouching and editing (note that iMac monitors are too contrasty for professional retouching work)

Graphic pad/tablet – Better than mouse or trackpad for complex retouching


Paper – Photographic and for regular documents


Tablet – To show your work to clients in meetings

Hard drive storage –  For backup of files

Software – Lightroom and/or Photoshop. Video editing software if you also shoot video

Guillotine/paper cutter

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