One of my favorite things about being a photographer is the endless amount of fun and useful accessories on the market. I love sharing what accessories I use, and I also enjoy seeing what other photographers are using. Here is a list of some of my favorite (and affordable!) gear.
* External Hard Drive - Next to my camera, this is probably my most important piece of equipment. If you aren’t backing up your photos to a source outside your computer, you really should. Imagine how you would feel if your computer crashed, and all of your photos disappeared. I also enjoy my external HD because I can carry it with me when I travel, or to school. I use a 1 terabyte external made by Western Digital. You can purchase them online, or at retailers such as Target and Best Buy.
* Macro Filters - Every now and then, I love to dabble in macro photography, but I don’t dabble enough to justify purchasing a macro lens. My solution - macro filters. The quality of these filters is surprisingly sharp, and they’re affordable. I use the Tiffen +1, +2, +4 filters. You can either use one filter at a time, or you can stack them on top of each other to get even closer.
* Lighting Kits If you are interested in exploring off camera lighting, a great way to get started is to purchase a kit. This is a monolight kit, and it includes a light, light stand, soft box and carrying case. It’s a cost-efficient way to get started with studio lighting.
* Flash Diffusers and Gels - Speaking of lighting, a useful accessory to have is a flash diffuser, which will prevent your flash from being too harsh by creating even light. There are hundreds of flash diffusers on the market at varying prices, but I have enjoyed my Gary Fong diffuser. Also, color gels are fun to experiment with! They easily attach to your flash, can add a pop of colorful light to your photos, or balance out the light from your flash to match ambient light where you are shooting.
* Holga Camera - Okay, this isn’t really an accessory since it is an actual camera, but it is a fun camera to have. If you love quirky, vintage-looking photos, you’ll really enjoy the Holga. If you are new to film, this is a great camera to start with, because it will take 35mm film, which you can get processed at your local photo lab or drugstore, without having to send it off. Be sure to check out the other fun film cameras at Lomography.
* Lensbaby Composer If you like the distorted, dreamy look that Holga cameras create, but you aren’t into shooting film, you may enjoy the Lensbaby Composer series. They attach to your DSLR just like a regular lens, but what is unique about a Lensbaby is that you can tilt and shift the lens to experiment with creative focus in your photos.
* The Gorillapod - This is a lightweight, mini-tripod that is great for travel. It is also versatile, because you can attach it to any surface, and it will hold your camera. Since it is so compact, it is handy to keep in your camera bag, or your car, for those times when you end up needing a tripod, but you don’t feel like lugging your full-size tripod around.
* Camera Bags I’m sort of a tom boy when it comes to my camera bags. I totally adore the Kelly Moore bags, but in reality, I shoot a lot of rural and urban decay, so if I had one, it would be all dusty/dirty/waterlogged and beat up within a week. My husband (who is also a photographer) and I both love the Lowepro slingback camera bags. They’re comfortable to carry, and they hold plenty of gear.
These are just a few accessories that I love, and hopefully you’ll find some of them useful. Do you have any accessories that you can’t live without? If so, please share them!