So in the last 2 posts we discussed photography gear—as in cameras and lenses. The camera and the lens are essentially the nuts and bolts of photography. But this third post in the 3-part series is going to discuss the best camera accessories for beginners.
What does a beginner really need to have with them (a bag probably and maybe a travel tripod) and what can wait some time (specialty straps, flashes, backdrops, and more). So this post will give you a rundown of my favorite accessories that I use all the time. If you’re looking for fun gifts for a photographer (or for yourself, hint hint) I have a whole post with fun photographer gifts, many under $20!
DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING I GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH MY LINKS, AT NO COST TO YOU.
And if you found this post because you are still trying to learn photography and what all those buttons on your camera can do, enroll in my completely free online mini course. I can help you to understand your camera and start getting better photos by the end of the week!
Best Camera Bags for Beginners
We are starting with the carrying bag. Why? Because you really should have a place to safely put your gear, whether you are just doing a quick shoot down the street or you are traveling with your gear. No matter what kind of photographer you are, you’re going to need a bag to carry your gear. I’m going to give you my 2 favorite camera bag companies, but there are tons out there. Being a female photographer, I tended to want my camera bags to be attractive, trendy, and look like something I would regularly carry around. At the time I started in photography there were traditional and, let’s admit it…ugly, camera bags that were on the market. For years I did not know there was anything but those ugly black fabric camera bags (sorry Lowepro & Ruggard). But over the years several companies came out that totally changed that. So I’ll offer my two favorite bags…and yes, I have owned MANY camera bags.
Kelly Moore Bags
Kelly Moore Bags has some of my favorite camera bags that exist. She makes bags for photographers that look like purses and carry ALL the goods in them. Kelly Moore is a photographer and a mom and created bags that could do all the things…and moore (get it). She uses beautiful leathers, vegan options, and durable leather alternatives so you won’t get any scuffing when you put the bags through the ringer (and you will). This bag to the side is my favorite bag in the world, it’s called the 2 sues but I don’t think it’s made anymore. The Libby is probably the next closest design. Click this link for $25 off!
Kamrette is quickly becoming my second favorite camera bag. This is the Lyra backpack and she. is. gorgeous. I started using a backpack this year when I began photographing smaller micro weddings and elopements. I was no longer needing my huge roller bag, and since I shoot these events solo I needed something that I could easily throw on my back and continue photographing…fast! So this is a beautiful leather alternative and can fit all the things. I can usually fit all my lenses, 2 camera bodies, extra batteries, a flash, and more.
Think Tank has the best roller bags on the market. So if you are traveling, or just want a larger bag that will hold ALL of your gear, this is the one to purchase. I personally have the airport international bag, but I think the airport advantage is a bit smaller and carries quite a lot as well. Click the link to see how much you can fit in there! Plus it saves you money overall. But I will say I’ve had my think tank roller bag FOREVER and it has traveled with me on flights, gets tossed in the back of my car on long wedding days, and is still a fantastic bag.
Camera accessories for beginners
Tripod: If you’re looking for a tripod that won’t break the bank, the Magnus PV-7451M has been the best for my students and is the one I also use for my regular needs. But if you are looking for something smaller and aren’t worried about the weight issue (always check how many pounds the tripod can accommodate) then the smaller Amazon tripod is great. This is the tripod I have for my students to take out, the other remain in the studio. Also a flexible travel tripod is always a good thing to have in your bag, it helps in so many different scenarios because you can attach it to almost anything.
Vertical Grip. I am a HUGE fan of the vertical grip. It is an extra piece that attaches to the bottom of your camera—adding additional battery power and the ability to photograph vertically without bending your arm above your head. The shutter release and shutter speed/aperture rings are on the side so you can control those when you turn the camera vertical. If you’ve ever shot a 10 hour wedding day where you take lots of vertical photos then you know how helpful this is. There are tons of different vertical grips for different camera models and that link will bring you to a bunch for Canon, Sony, and Nikon.
Flash: Do you actually need a flash or a speedlight? Probably not, but you might. I did not purchase a good speedlight flash until I absolutely needed it as a wedding photographer. Prior to that I just was using natural light and getting good at understanding my camera’s limitations and capabilities. Trying to learn how to control flash while also trying to learn how to control a camera is a really big undertaking. I suggest learning to use your camera and control the light that is available to you before you start adding in strobes or speedlights. But, I do recommend a couple of them. For Canon my recommendation is the Canon 430-EX III-RT and for Nikon my favorite entry-level advanced speedlight is the Nikon SB-700. If you are using mirrorless the flash compensation is seen in camera while you are changing your settings, which is pretty awesome actually.
Camera Strap. There are a lot of straps out there. The holster strap (that holds two cameras) seems to be the most popular among wedding photographers, but I have to be honest. I don’t like them. It’s a personal decision (I feel like I’m wearing suspenders) and I prefer a single strap. Besides, I like to really consider my options and slow down instead of speeding up, so usually I wear a single strap. Occassionally during an elopement or ceremony where I might need to switch lenses quicker, I will use the Black Rapid hybrid double strap but it turns back into a solo strap very easily. My favorite strap is the Black Rapid solo strap. I’ve used this strap for YEARS! If you are looking for something with a little more style, Holdfast Gear has a gorgeous solo strap (they are also the company with photographers-favorite holster strap).
Wireless Remote: This accessory isn’t at all necessary, but if you photograph self portraits a lot, or even night photography on a tripod, then a wireless remote is especially helpful! I use these all the time and as do my students. You can find the wireless remote from the company you purchased the camera from, but the amazon ones are the ones I have in my classroom and they work great! Definitely check out if your camera is compatible—for example the Nikon D3100 doesn’t work with a remote at all—but I love this little purchase. Also, if your camera is newer, it can likely attach to the app on your phone and you can take photos remotely, so if it has wifi capability you probably don’t need this little guy.
Lens Cleaning Pens. There are a lot of different cleaning systems out there, but you should definitely have at least a microfiber cloth to clean your lenses. I clean my lenses before every single shoot, and my favorite cleaning system are the Lens Pens. I buy a new set each year and use them constantly. They are small, about the size of a pen (hence the name) and can easily be tossed in a bag or purse and keep everything super clean. And don’t forget to take your lens off your camera and clean the back too!
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the camera accessories out there. But with a little bit of research and exploration, you can find the best camera accessories for beginners that not only fit your budget and needs, but elevate your photography skills. From tripods, to carrying bags, to remote shutters and more, the right accessories can make your photography journey much smoother and more enjoyable — and produce stunning results. So don’t be afraid to take the plunge, explore the possibilities and make the most of your camera and your creativity. Let your camera accessories help you make the best of your photographs, and don’t invest in any fluff!