I get questions on Instagram almost every single day about what camera equipment I use and where I buy my photography backdrops. So I decided to consolidate all that info into one place!
*This post contains affiliate links which means that I may receive commissions for purchases made through these links. However, please know that I only provide links to products that I actually use and wholeheartedly recommend!
Canon Camera Gear
First things first, I want to emphasize that you do not need the most expensive camera gear or equipment to take amazing photos!! I've been using a super basic camera for the past year with amazing results! I very recently upgraded to more professional gear but again, what matters most is knowing how to use the camera that you do have properly! Also the lens you use is far more important than the camera body!
There are great brands other than Canon, that's just what I happen to use and love!
Beginner Camera and Lens
Prior to January of 2021, EVERY SINGLE photo on my website was taken with this camera and lens!
My Canon Rebel was only $375 and it's been such a great starter camera! The only downside is that it is a crop-sensor camera, which can be annoying when using the 50mm lens because everything seems much closer.
I made the mistake of buying my camera with a kit lens instead of just the body and the kit lens is trash. I never use it. I exclusively use my "nifty fifty" because it's an AMAZING lens for the price! I highly recommend starting out with this 50mm.
Advanced Camera and Lenses
I just recently upgraded to the following equipment in January 2021! It's absolutely amazing, but it's not cheap! I want to stress that the camera you have is not what makes great photos. It's the photographer. You can have the most expensive camera in the world, but if you don't understand how to shoot in manual mode, how to manipulate light, or how to compose a compelling photo, your photos won't be very good.
I highly recommend starting out with the cheap, beginner equipment listed above and learning all the fundamentals of food photography before you decide to purchase more advanced equipment.
I now shoot with my Canon EOS 6D Mark II and I just love it! It's super fast, crisp, and I love that the screen flips out! I've also recently started using this remote trigger that is super helpful when shooting on a tripod for action shots! I also have several backup batteries that are always charged!
This 50mm is just a slightly upgraded version of the beginner 50mm, so absolutely not necessary if you already have the nifty 50!
The 24-70 zoom lens is a super versatile lens that can be used for a ton of different shots! It's great for restaurant photography because you don't have to travel with multiple lenses! But if you're trying to save money, I would recommend just the 50mm and 100mm.
The 100mm macro is one of the most amazing lenses out there! It gives you the most perfectly crisp macro shots, but it's not ideal for flat-lay photography. This is honestly my favorite purchase I've ever made.
Tripods & Lighting
My very first tripod was an Amazon Basics brand tripod and honestly it works great for simple straight on shots! I still use it for all my pour shots/drip shots/etc.
I then upgraded to this Manfrotto tripod with an three way ball head. It's expensive but I love it! I decided to upgrade to Manfrotto because I it makes it easier to switch between my tripod and c-stand because the attachment plate is the same. I also use it with this iPhone adapter so that I can film quick reels, etc on my phone!
In January 2021 I upgraded to a c-stand for all my overhead shots and I'm obsessed!! However, it's very large and not easy to store. So I only recommend a c-stand if you have a dedicated "studio" area where you leave your gear set up. To attach my camera to my c-stand I use this adapter and this monopod head.
A super important but often overlooked piece of gear is the diffuser. I try to shoot on overcast days whenever possible because then I don't have to use a diffuser, but for those sunny days I use this one! It helps soften the light and filter out any harsh blue light. It also comes with different covers so that you can use it as a reflector.
Similarly, I use a basic foam core board to help reflect light back into my scene! You can also get cheap foam core boards from Michaels. I use this stand to clip my foam boards and it also works great for vinyl backdrops!
Artificial Lighting Gear
I'm currently venturing into the world of artificial lighting so these are my beginner artificial light recommendations! I chose flash because it cancels out the ambient lighting and gives super crisp photos. However, you can't use flash for video, so that's something to keep in mind!
So first of all you need a speedlight and then a trigger that attaches to your camera! Please note that both of these are for Cannon cameras!! You also need equipment to mount the light and a softbox to diffuse the light. This is everything I have for my Canon 6D Mark II, so it might not be compatible with other cameras.
You can also check out this artificial gear guide from The Bite Shot for more recommendations!
Data & Storage
I get questions about the backdrops I use almost every day! There are a ton of great options out there, so I can only speak to what I actually use.
Paper & Vinyl
The very first backdrops I bought were these paper backdrops from the shop LifeFilm on Etsy! They are significantly cheaper than any other backdrops I've bought, but there are some downsides to using paper backdrops. Sometimes they don't lay completely flat and they aren't 100% water resistant (however I have spilled a LOT of things on them and they've held up great). But overall their value for the money is amazing! These are the backdrops I still use 80% of the time! [UPDATE: this shop appears to be closed now but I'll keep checking for it to reopen.]
These are some of my favorites from their shop!
I also have several vinyl backdrops from Capture by Lucy that I love!! She has the most beautiful backdrops on her site! These are my favorites from her!
I also recently got a few from Bessie Bakes Backdrops that I love! However, the material is kind of weird so they're a bit more difficult to store. My favorites are:
I finally caved and bought a couple of backdrops from Woodville Workshop! They are super expensive but I LOVE them! I have one backdrop that's double sided with Osaka and Ankara. And a double sided tile backdrop with Kotor and Bologna.
I've also started making some of my own backdrops using the DIY backdrop guide from Frosting and Fettuccine. These were super fun to make but I honestly don't love doing a ton of DIY projects so I'm not sure how many more I'll make.
The vertical backdrop in this photo I made myself!
This isn't technically gear, but the courses I've taken have been such a game changer in my photography journey!!
Foodtography School & Advanced Foodtography School - I actually wrote this whole blog post all about my experiences with both! Sarah is an amazing teacher and taught me almost everything I know! If you're just starting out in food photography, I highly recommend checking out the OG Foodtography School Course!
Artificial Academy - I just recently enrolled in this course because I'm trying to learn artificial light as winter is coming. So far I'm LOVING it! I was so intimidated by artificial light before this course and Joanie makes it so easy to understand!
As always, if you have any questions about anything in this post (or if you just want to chat) leave a message in the comments, shoot me an email at [email protected], or DM me on Instagram @barleyandsage!
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