Tip: check out my free video on how to decide what equipment to get here.
Primary body: Canon R5 (I paid $3,729) – In November of 2022, it was about time for me to upgrade my primary body and I decided to switch to a mirrorless body from DSLR. I chose to leave Nikon behind after a few bad experiences (which was heartbreaking, because I really do love their colors) and move to Canon. Although Sony really made a name for themselves with their mirrorless technology, Canon ultimately won me over with how many people have raved to me about the R5.
Backup body: Nikon D850 (I paid $2,556), soon to be Canon R6 ($2,299) – Always have a backup camera, whether it’s rented or owned, in case the worst happens at a session. My pricing is set up to cover not one set of equipment but two so that I can continue to work should something “unexpected” happen. I say “unexpected” because you can always expect the unexpected working with live animals in the elements as a human being and equipment does indeed fail on occasion!
Primary portrait lens: Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS (I paid $2,899) – Although the absolute best piece of equipment I have ever used is the Sigma 105 ART lens I used with my Nikon (like, I’m very much a cult member now of Sigma haha), I wasn’t interested in using an adapter, so I needed a mirrorless Canon mount, which Sigma does not yet have for that lens, so I opted for an RF 85. Although I prefer a 105 or 135 lens for horses to avoid distortion of our large four-legged friends, the 85 is holding its own.
Backup lenses: Sigma 105 ART F1.4 ($1,338) & Sigma 70-200 F2.8 ($1,344), soon to be Canon 70-200 F2.8 ($1,899).
Primary computer (I paid $5,298): 2021 16-inch Macbook Pro with 64GB memory 4TB storage. I’ve always been a huge Apple user and need the synergy between my phone and my laptop for quite a bit of my workflow. I can copy something on one device and paste on the other, Airdrop things to make posts, etc. I am venturing more into video work, so I prioritized an incredible amount of RAM and storage, both of which I probably over-did, but I’d always rather have too much than too little.
Backup computer (I paid $3,646): 2017 16-inch Macbook Pro with 16gb memory and 500gb storage. This is now my husband’s computer, but as it was once my primary laptop, it is fully capable of handling the work I do should my primary computer go down for any reason so that I can continue the work I promised to my clients!
Tip: you can get access to just these two apps via a Creative Cloud Photographer Plan for $10/mo here.
Adobe Lightroom CC ($59/mo for all Adobe apps) – I use this to cull through my photos and adjust the light and color of them.
Adobe Photoshop CC (see above) – I use this to do more heavy-duty editing on my images. I can remove background distractions, swap out ears or other elements of the image, cut out and adjust black or white backgrounds, edit out blemishes, etc.
Online Tools & Services
Sprout Studio ($539/yr) – This is my Client Relations Manager (CRM) that allows me to juggle all of my clients and keep an eye on where they are all at in my flow. I can keep notes, get contracts signed, send invoices, automate reminders, deliver galleries, handle my email marketing, and more. You can get a free trial (and get me a credit!) if you use this link.
Mural (free) – When I have things I need to plan out like photo trips, plan out courses, blog posts, or more complex business things I need to collaborate with a friend on, I use Mural to help me plan it out visually with virtual sticky notes. The free version works great for me!
Calendly (I pay $155/yr) – Rather than going back and forth with clients trying to schedule phone calls and Zoom meetings or manually sending Zoom info and reminders, I set my availability in Calendly, which automatically adjusts based on what I put on my Apple calendar. It’s a great tool that cuts out a lot of admin time for me! While Sprout Studio (mentioned above) has a scheduling feature, I prefer Calendly for the time being because Sprout doesn’t yet have the capability to send text reminders if people prefer those or integrate with Zoom to automatically set up meetings for me.
Showit (I pay $29/mo) – I created my website with Showit, which is awesome, but maybe a little too awesome for newbies to web design. It’s a very powerful tool I would not recommend for someone who is new to web design. You’ve got to be pretty savvy to know how to use it, but it’s an incredible way to make a website that really feels like you. There are also some amazing templates out there to purchase and designers to hire! If you want to try it out, you can get a free month (and give me a free month!) by using this link.
Meta Planner (free) – I schedule my posts to social media pretty far in advance so that I don’t have to remember to post manually all the time. Right now, I am using Meta’s built-in feature for this, but honestly I will use a 3rd party service to do so when I find the right one as I am finding Meta to be a bit glitchy.
The Hartford Business Insurance ($539/yr) – I’m a big USAA fan generally when it comes to insurance as I’ve just had so many incredible experiences with them, but while I await their new business insurance to become available to me, I’m taking shelter over at The Hartford for both liability and property insurance. As a business, I am legally obligated to have insurance, but even if that weren’t true, I’d want to make sure I have it anyway!
Outsourced Work (I pay $25+/hr) – Taylor with Taylor Marie Images is who I outsource a lot of work to when I am just too busy (which is 99% of the time). Taylor is incredible at helping me process black or white backgrounds, culling sessions because I’m a chronic over shooter and over thinker, editing out background distractions, laying out album spreads, writing session blog posts, and more. In addition, she’s who would hold down the fort for me if something really unexpected happens and I’m for some reason unable to work. You can learn more about Taylor via her website here.
CPA – My CPA helps me with all things tax related. The one I use is one that my family has used for awhile, so it was an easy choice, but if you are looking for one yourself, I recommend looking for one familiar with your niche. This stuff gets confusing real quick even if you’re good at numbers, and I’m most definitely not well developed on that side of my brain!
Session Assistants – While I can definitely knock out a session on my own when I have to, I try to have a well-trained assistant with me at all times! Often, these are my horse girl friends, sometimes former clients, and other times it’s someone who just really wants to learn from how I do my sessions and in return helps me get ears up, haul a heavy canvas sample outta the back of my truck, or grab me another memory card, etc. Compensation is adjusted based on experience and what it is the goal is for that assistant, but is generally about $50 per session and a coffee. 😉
While I learned the photography and editing aspect of my job on my own, I learned a lot about how to price myself, run my business, and market myself from mentors. I absolutely recommend learning as much as you can from as many people as you can so that you can take bits and pieces from each of them to create your very own business.
You can learn more about education opportunities from LFP here.