How much photography gear do you really need?

Above: Image Gina Milicia

“If you need a science degree and a membership to Mensa International to use your photography equipment, then chances are you’ll never use it.”

There is a room in my house where all my impulse purchases are stored. These are items I convinced myself I needed but no longer use, like the bread machine (made me fat), the ice cream machine (see “bread machine”), and the Ab Cruncher Pro (purchased to undo all the damage caused by the bread and ice cream machines).

Along with the everyday stuff, there are dozens of cheap photographic accessories, bought on impulse only to be regretted later. Like the silver umbrella I bought for $10. It fell apart the second time I used it; now, when opened, it covers everyone within a five-mile radius in silver glitter. Or the three cheap remote triggers I bought, because every girl needs three remote triggers that don’t work.

Then there are the five softboxes, the ring light, a beauty dish, and five broken light stands that “might come in handy one day.”

My name is Gina Milicia, and I’m a Gearaholic.

It started with a small purchase I made one night with friends. There was no harm done, but then I started to buy gear alone…

It took me many years to realise that owning every single light modifier and photography gadget was not going to make me a better photographer. The one thing that would improve my photography was deciding on one lighting style and modifier and working with it until I felt I’d mastered it.

I use one light with the same modifier for 80% of my fill flash photography. I can vary the look of my shots by the way I expose my images and where I position the light.

If you’re just starting out, I recommend that you buy only one modifier and one light, and then work with this setup until you’re confident and happy with your style.

Lighting should be quick and easy to use.

If you need a science degree and a membership to Mensa International to use a light, then you’ll be reluctant to use it. I used to have a small softbox I bought online. It was really cheap and put out a decent light, but it was a complete nightmare to set up. I would forget which part went where and end up so frustrated, I’d give up and shoot with natural light.

Test before you invest.

When it comes to buying accessories, look for brands that are simple and quick to pack up and dismantle. That cheap flash modifier gets really expensive if you never actually use it.

Lately I’ve been loving my Gary Fong light modifiers with a Yongnuo or Canon speedlight and a simple 5 in one reflector.

The reason I love them is because they are compact, put out a beautiful light and are quick and easy to set up. I can toss them in my kit and set them up in minutes.

Have you got a favorite lighting combo? I’d love to hear about it.

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Gina Milicia is one of the most widely known and respected photographers in Australia. She is the master of capturing that ‘magical moment’... READ MORE

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