Everything I use and recommend
Starting, building and running a business is time-consuming. It takes a lot effort to find clients and carry out assignments, choosing camera gear, read books to improve your technical skills in photography and entrepreneurship.
I learned what to use by trial and error or discovered it by reading the internet. It’s not necessary for you to reinvented the wheel. Therefore I’ve created this page. You will find all the tools and equipment I use, as well as books and courses that I recommend to grow your knowledge. I am running a photography business for ten years now. I can imagine that your funds are not sufficient for top-of-the-line gear when you are just starting out. So I have included great cameras and lenses in case you are on a budget.
Several products on this page contain affiliate links. I use affiliate links only when I fully support the product and its content, and the information is worth sharing with you. By using the links on this page, I get a small percentage of the purchase price, so I can continue to write valuable content. It doesn’t cost you anything! If you don’t like to use these links, that’s fine! You can buy your stuff anywhere you like, no hard feelings.
Camera: body and lenses
The big names in photography equipment are Canon and Nikon. A few years ago, Sony acquired Minolta, establishing a position within the professional photography market.
My first camera was a sixth-hand analog model Minolta. A couple of years later, I bought an analog Canon (yes, I am that old). When Canon released the first affordable DSRL back in 2003 – the EOS 300D – I switched to digital photography. In 2015 I upgraded my gear to full frame, and I was considering Nikon, but again, I deliberately chose Canon.
So why Canon?
Qualitatively, there is little difference between the two brands, and Sony builds good cameras too. But, first of all, the Canon lenses are less expensive than the competitors. Second, Canon offers the widest range of lenses suitable for interior photography. And third, a decisive argument for me was the fact that Guillaume, my husband, uses a full frame Canon camera so we can share lenses.
To be honest, I do not have a lot of knowledge about Nikon or Sony gear, that's the main reason I can only give advice on Canon bodies and lenses. I have included a full frame and crop factor body in this overview, as well as lenses for both types that I recommend.
You might notice that I do not support so-called third party lenses. During the live courses that I teach, I was able to compare many of my students’ lenses with my own — and Canon always won when it came to sharpness and brightness.
My body and lenses
I chose the Canon EOS 6D because it is a reasonably affordable full frame camera. The much more expensive 5D Mark IV is simply not necessary for the purpose I use it for, that is, photographing properties. I will explain all the benefits of a full frame camera extensively in my course, but the most significant benefit is the larger sensor. The number of megapixels is distributed over a larger area, and because of that, there is less visible noise and more overall sharpness of the images.
The 17-40mm f/4 L lens is an excellent lens. It competes well with the more expensive Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L. Because I always shoot from a tripod, I do not need the extra light input. Also, the additional depth of field from a large aperture is not necessary for interior photography; the entire image must be sharp. I almost always use this lens at aperture f/11.
The 50mm f/1.4 lens is a great lens for close-ups. Here, the extra depth of field is a bonus. It also comes with an enormous light input and the ability to shoot from the hand, so you can quickly compose your detail shots.
Choose equipment with a professional look
To be honest, you do not need a full frame camera! Even extra lenses for close-ups are not a necessity to start. A crop factor camera is fine for interior photography. Most pictures won’t be blown up to gigantic proportions; in fact, they will be used mostly for online listings. Even for editorial use, a crop factor camera is sufficient
Because you are going to offer professional photography services, I advise that you do not purchase the basic models. Not just because of the greater ease and build quality of the more expensive ones, but mostly for your professional appearance. Your customers expect that you, as a professional photographer, have a decent camera. That sounds a bit blasé, but compare it to a painter. When you hire his services, and he enters your house with the cheapest materials, you will certainly doubt his professionalism.
The following equipment is very suitable to start off with as an interior photographer. The body is similar to one I have used for more than eight years. It’s not the cheapest, but I recommend this for the reason I’ve just mentioned above.
The more expensive lens, the Canon EF-S 10-22mm, is still one of my favorites. If it were compatible, I would still use it on my full frame camera. Canon recently launched the 10-18mm. The reviews are excellent, but, in my opinion, it lacks in build quality. However, if you’re on a budget, it’s certainly not a bad choice.
Before you decide on your equipment, I recommend you read this blog post: 5 Things to Consider Before You Buy Your First Camera
When you are starting on a budget, consider buying second-hand equipment. I strongly advise you to purchase at a camera store and not at an online marketplace. Buying a camera from a Marketplace has two major drawbacks: first, you don’t have any warranty; second, you cannot deduct the purchase cost from your income taxes unless you have a receipt. So, in the end, a brand new camera will probably be just a little more expensive than a used one.
Nikon and Sony
In case you already own a body by Nikon or Sony, don’t change brands just because I own a Canon! Both brands have excellent lenses available for interior photography. I cannot test them, of course, but I have read several reviews for you. Below are the lenses for these two brands:
I have one lens on my wish list, and that is the Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II Tilt-Shift lens. I will rent one soon for a test-drive, and I’ll share my experience with this lens on my blog.
In addition to a body and a lens, a tripod is indispensable for interior photography. Don’t go for cheap on a tripod of $30-50; it’s just too unstable. An inexpensive tripod will shake the camera every single time you release the button. As a consequence, you will end up with unsharp images. Besides that, if you mount your expensive equipment on an unstable tripod, someday, something will happen, and somebody will accidentally pull down on your tripod. I’ve seen it happen during my live classes.
During my first nine years in business, I used an 18-year-old Manfrotto tripod. That piece of equipment is indestructible. Unfortunately, it had no bulb levelers on the head. And, after losing my third or fourth hot shoe bubble level, I decided to buy a new stand.
More expensive tripods are composed of two parts: the legs and a head. These two components can be purchased separately, but come as a package deal. I use a three-way head with three handles that can move independently to level the camera in any position. The next step up is a geared head; it is more expensive but more precise than the one I use currently.
What I use and alternatives
The left picture is the tripod and head similar to what I have. It is a more expensive kit; the tripod head has three bubble levels so that it’s possible to level the camera in portrait mode as well. The cheaper one to the right is still sturdy, but the 3-way head comes with just one bubble level.
The cameras in the expensive segment do not have folding LCD screens and touch screens, probably for two reasons: using the viewfinder, you can concentrate more on composition, and an adjustable screen is more fragile than a solid display. Frankly, I don’t know any professional photographers that use live view on the screen.
When you’re using your camera on a daily basis with a tripod set at chest height, an adjustable screen would, of course, be better for your back. Fortunately, there is the angle finder! It’s a kind of overpriced mini-periscope that can look through the viewfinder from above. If I accidentally forget it when I’m on a shoot, I miss it! For me, it’s a must-have in my camera bag, and can I recommend it to anyone.
Don’t be shocked by the price; the original Canon one goes quickly toward $200. It keeps you from standing in unnatural positions and will eventually save you from having back problems.
Although there are memory cards on the market with as much storage as my MacBook Pro (512GB), I prefer cards with less memory. A 16GB SD card is enough for the RAW files of 3-4 houses. Then each day, after transferring the files to my computer, I format my cards. I prefer to have 2 or 3 smaller cards in my bag in case I forget to remove one from my computer or card reader. Believe me; it’s going to happen to you, too!
The SD cards that are present in most cameras are much more vulnerable than the compact flash cards used in the high-end bodies. In nine years, a CF card has never abandoned me; my first SD card has already been sent to the trash bin because it broke after one year. Fortunately, there was no man overboard; I’d already loaded the pictures on the computer. I was just glad I could continue the next day on one of my backup cards.
Besides the storage capacity, another thing you should look for when buying SD cards is the speed at which images are saved. It is usually indicated on the card. Purchase memory cards with a minimum writing speed of 95MB/sec. Check the manual of your camera for the recommended speed for your model. Lexar and Sandisk are both very reliable brands.
In the packaging, you will find a code that you can use to download recovery software. Fortunately, I’ve never needed that software, but just in case, don’t dispose of the packaging without having removed the code!
One or two extra batteries is an absolute must. I always have one in the charger, one in my camera, and a spare one in my bag.
I rarely use it, but sometimes I get in homes where no wall or ceiling is white, which makes it pretty difficult to correct the colors in post processing. When this happens, I’m happy to have a gray card around. Position the card within the image you want to make. Take a picture, remove the gray card, and take another picture.
In Camera Raw or Lightroom, use the color picker to select the correct values from the gray card. Use these values on the image without the gray card. It usually comes pretty close to the colors in the actual situation.
To keep my stuff stain- and dust-free, I use a LensPen. The brands don’t differ much from each other, and they all have a $5 – $10 price tag.
I also use a blower to remove dust from the camera and lens. By squeezing it. Always keep in mind to hold the body upside down, with the opening downwards. It will prevent dust particles from being blown to the sensor. I use Giottos Rocket Air, a more expensive one, though to be honest, it’s an aesthetic choice.
When I started my photography business back in 2007, I just used what I had: a Dell laptop. It was pretty slow, but I didn’t have too many assignments yet. In my first year in business, I only shot 40 properties, so I had plenty of time to edit the pictures.
The software I used wasn’t entirely legal, and that didn’t feel right. In those days, you had to buy the Adobe Creative Suite software in a box. There were two versions: Windows and Mac. So besides purchasing expensive software, I had to choose between Microsoft or Apple. Despite fierce anti-virus software, my laptop was infected, and I could fill out a death certificate. That clinched it: I bought a MacBook Pro, and Adobe CS3 for Mac and haven’t regretted it for a moment.
When Apple introduced the iPhone 3G in 2008, and later, the iPad, it was easy to integrate them with my Mac. The major disadvantage of Apple is the price tag. And, when you’re switching, you need to get used to a new operating system. But I experience mainly benefits. My MacBook Pro is stable, it hardly ever crashes; updates to the OS, the office software Pages, Numbers, and Keynote and iMovie, which I use for real estate videos, are free.
And hey! The eye wants something aesthetically pleasing to look at — at least, my eyes, for sure!
In 2016, I bought a new MacBook Pro with a 15-inch screen, 512GB of storage, and 16GB of memory. The thing runs fast! Even running large files like a book layout in InDesign, while simultaneously using Photoshop and Illustrator doesn’t cause me any problems. If you have the money, I can honestly recommend an Apple computer.
Does a 15-inch MacBook Pro not fit in your budget? Consider buying the 13-inch version, and use a separate screen. I have a monitor, but I edit my photo files solely on my laptop. It’s when I’m working on a large graphic design or website project that I connect to the monitor.
What about Windows?
I know some photographers that use a Windows computer, and I get that, especially when you’re on a budget. As for editing software, you just download whatever you need from the cloud. Just be sure that your computer has enough memory; 16GB is not overly fancy, and regarding storage, 512GB is the least that will need. Computers with these specifications usually have a fast processor.
When you purchase a computer, explain to the vendor that you are using it for photo editing. Running Adobe Photoshop CC requires more speed than plain text editing and browsing.
It’s very simple, as a professional photographer, you need editing software. I recommend Adobe CC Photography Plan it comes with Photoshop and Lightroom. The Photography Plan is cheaper than a single Photoshop subscription.I just use Photoshop CC; I don’t like the library function in Lightroom. All features I use for processing RAW files are part of Photoshops Camera RAW converter.
Why not Adobe Photoshop Elements?
I tested the latest version, and I must admit, it is a pretty powerful piece of software. However, it lacks a few functions in its Camera RAW converter which are crucial to raising your photos above the crowd: automatic lens profile corrections, removing chromatic aberration, adjustments per color channel, and correcting verticals and horizontals.
I have a subscription to the full Adobe CC Suite because, in addition to Photoshop, I regularly use InDesign and Illustrator for graphic design.
The advantage of the subscription model
For most photographers, the Adobe Photography Plan is more than enough for daily use. I often hear students and colleagues finding it annoying to opt in for a subscription. I was upset when Adobe decided to shift to a subscription model, but when I look back, I’m happy with the monthly payments on my bill.
I paid €2600 for Adobe CS3 Premium, and the upgrade to CS5 was around €1400, and I lasted seven years with those two versions. A quick calculation shows that over that entire period, I paid an average of €49 per month. That’s the same amount I pay for the full Adobe CC Suite, but now I receive every single update and every new program that becomes available, and I’m able to spread my cost tremendously.
My Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. If you're not using Illustrator, Indesign and Premiere Pro you do not need this.
Sufficient for professional photography: Adobe CC Photography Plan with both Photoshop CC and Lightroom CC.
Of course, I recommend my course. I share all my knowledge of interior photography, styling, editing in Photoshop, marketing your business and building a brand. I also pay attention to the setting prices and approaching your target market. Currently, this course can only be attended live in the Netherlands, but I’m working on an online course as we speak.
Meanwhile, you can start your business by writing your business plan. I have created The Epic Photographer’s Business Plan to get you started. It’s a 50-page fillable PDF, and frankly, I’m pretty proud of the design and the content.
Leave your name and email below, and I’ll keep you updated on my courses.
Online training platforms
On the internet, there are numerous tutorials and videos on how to use Adobe Photoshop CC and Lightroom CC. In interior photography specifically, there aren’t many courses available, but I’ve found a few for you if you want to start right now.
On the course platform CreativeLive, look for video courses from architecture and interiors photographer Mike Kelley. I have not taken his classes, but he is a well known Real Estate and Architectural photographer. The reviews of three of his courses are excellent. Those courses were about interior photography; the real estate photography course reviews aren’t that positive. You can purchase each course separately on CreativeLive, but if you have a tablet, you can take one free course a day!
In 2011, I attended a workshop on interior photography by the US photographer Scott Hargis. At that time, there was absolutely nothing to learn in the Netherlands, so I was very glad I got the chance to be taught by him. Although he works with multiple external flashes and I shoot with natural light only, I learned a lot by attending his workshop. Lynda offers four Scott Hargis courses, they have a free trial period of 30 days. After the trial, Lynda has different subscription models.
Another popular platform is Udemy. Like CreativeLive, you pay per course. One of the most comprehensive courses on our subject is Mastering Architecture and Real Estate Photography by Charlie Borland. Even though his approach to interior photography differs from mine, it’s certainly worth the buy. I’d advise subscribing to Udemy’s newsletter because they offer all courses for a fraction of the price on a regular basis. I only paid $10 for Charlie Borland’s course.
The last platform I frequently visit is Skillshare. Like Lynda, you get access to all premium courses on a monthly subscription basis. Charlie Borland (yes, the same instructor I mentioned above) offers his course on Skillshare as well.
The course platforms above offer many different types of classes. Not just on photography, but also on business, marketing, and social media. CreativeLive has a clear focus on the creative industries. At Lynda, Skillshare, and Udemy, you’ll find a broader range of courses. It’s worth taking a look at everything they offer. I must admit that I have become a massive online course junky! If you like to learn, I warned you!
There are numerous books written about photography. On architecture and interior photography, the choices are pretty limited. Virtually everything published, I have at home, and you can tell that some books are clearly better than the other. Most books teach you how to work with strobes, while I consciously do not use a flash. Still, it's good to read more about the different techniques. Books I own and recommend are:
Photoshop & Lightroom
As I mentioned before, photo editing is essential for interior photography — or actually, any photography. You improve your images with adjustments in Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom. During my course, I will teach you all the tools in Photoshop that I use in post-production. But Photoshop has many more possibilities. Therefore, it is wise to purchase a book for future reference. I can recommend photographer Scott Kelby’s books with confidence.
Other Useful Tools
To make searching on my computer easier and make it clearer for my customers, I change the original names of the files. I use the following format: NG_year-month_Town_Street_012345 (NG are my initials). The picture number remains the same, so I can quickly find the original RAW files.
It's a hassle to change all the file names manually. For Mac users, there is a super convenient tool — and free! — called NameChanger. In NameChanger, you’re able to change the names of the files inside an entire folder all at once. I’ve been looking for a similar program for Windows, which I obviously cannot test. You could take a look at Advanced Renamer and Bulk Rename Utility — it will cost you nothing anyway!
If you use Lightroom, you don't need the above tools; Lightroom itself offers this functionality.
I love pCloud and started using in 2017after years of having a Dropbox subscription. The reasons dropped Dropbox is all the extra features pCloud offers for a $250 lifetime deal for 2TB (I used to pay €190 for Dropbox pro on a yearly basis!) :
- When I share files, I can check see if they are downloaded and how often.
- It's must faster than Dropbox, which makes my clients happy too.
- Doesn't take up space on your hard drive Which saved me a lot of money because I could buy a MacBook Air for my children with the smallest available hard drive.
- Sharing folders with co-workers without adding MB's to their accounts (my husband is my co-worker, he has his own pCloud)
- Synchronizing important folders on your computer to the cloud (for back-up)
- Automatic upload of iPhone and iPad photos and removing them from Photos, I never run out of storage on my phone or iCloud!
- Lightroom plugin for photographers. Love that feature and use it a lot for my still life and lifestyle photography; I always have photos at hand to share on social media.
- The document viewer is impressive: It even opens epub files and it shows my photo files in in a slider, even full screen.
Besides pCloud, there are many more cloud solutions to share your files Dropbox and Google Drive, for instance, are good alternatives to start with and both have a free tier. They both come with a desktop plugin too but unlike pCloud, the data stored in the cloud is a copy of the files on your hard drive. So it adds up quickly with those large photography files.
You've made it!
I am impressed that you've made it through the bottom of this page. Perhaps you are wondering now why I did not include anything about lighting. Well, I own three Canon Speedlights, but I never use them. Over the years, I developed a method in which I don't need any artificial lights. It is a quick and dirty way of interior photography and photo editing but is works! My clients love the brightness of my pictures and especially the reality that my images show.
Currently, I am teaching my method during live courses in the Netherlands and, occasionally abroad. But right now, I am creating an online course so you can learn from me too! So, if you want a career in this niche, leave you email address in the field below, and I will keep you posted. And to get you started, I will send you the Epic Photographers Business Plan Workbook.