How would I spend it?

Great question! I often reflect back on my first talk with my mentor and friend Art Ketchum and I remember specifically complaining as all I had was a cheap pair of Ebay strobes and a cheap camera and starter lens. In his book, Portfolio by Art Ketchum, Art states he had a ton of strobes and modifiers. He also stated if the reader or anyone else who wondered why he had so many, his response was simple; “Because I can”. It floored me that someone could have so many strobes and modifiers! They were so expensive that I could only afford the ebay ones. After attending a few of his workshops, I called him on the phone and said “Hello sir, how does one accumulate so many strobes and modifiers?” He said “Years of collecting. Pretty much nothing I have, I went out and got in one huge lump.” I was hoping he would have said “Since I have so many, you can have a few” but it never happened. What happened then was he said “I have no doubt in five years max, you’ll have enough knowledge behind you that you will have a lot, but only use a few.”

I knew this man was great, but had no clue what he saw in me to have such high regards for me.

At that point in time I decided that I was going to start building up my collection. That one day, I would be sponsored like Art and have a lot of strobes. At that time, DSLR’s were still new and hot and sadly, there weren’t a lot of cheaper end cameras. If I were to start a studio today, I’d do it a lot differently than I did back then. 1,500.00 isn’t a lot of money to start with, but it’s a nice round number. This list is going to be a start, start, start. Meaning you just woke up and decided to stat a photo business. Here’s how I’d do it today:

Canon EOS Digital Rebel xT-with kit lens  299.00 at Adorama

– With that, my camera body and lens is taken care of. There are some who will scoff at the fact I’m saying used camera and a pro-sumer body. Let me tell you, the first 12 of my images to go into nationally distrubted magazines were all shot with the Original Canon Digital Rebel with kit lens. It’s about how you shoot, not what oyu shoot with.

1 Photogenic StudioMax III AC/DC Operated 320ws Constant Color Monolight 324.95

Photogenic StudioMax III AC Operated 320ws Constant Color Monolight 274

Backdrop Outlet Pro white vinyl backdrop 9×18 169.00

Small server from HudsonValley Host 64.95 per year (You can find a lot of cool themes free)

Domain 10.99 yr

1 Jay Kilgore Portrait lighting video 99.00

1 Jay Kilgore Photoshop tutorial video 59.00


The grand total? 1300.89 which leaves you with 199.11 left to spend. Of course  you can buff up your camera gear or even get a third light or a new lens but the fact is you have money left over!

Quick rundown on why I chose what I chose:

If you’re starting you don’t need a big fancy to do camera. You need a decent camera that is going to capture images and make it as effortless as possible. The Rebel line was good to me when it was in it’s infancy, I can only imagine how much better it’s gotten how. I am not big on buying the newest, hottest camera, my next camera purchase will be an original 5d (again) My dream camera is the 1DS Mark II, that and the 5D has some of the best image quality I’ve seen.

You don’t need a lot of lighting power. The Photogenic studiomax III strobes will be more than enough power. The best and cheapest modifier you can get would be a homemade diffusion panel. These panels are made with pvc pipe and mylar fabric from the fabric store. That will be about 50.00 of the 199, so I lied, you’ll have about 149.11 left over.

IMHO, you need to have your OWN domain and domain related email. Even if you forward your home domain to your free email, it looks more professional to have vs

Now that you have the gear and website, you need a few quick, yet informational learning tools and that’s where my dvd’s come in at ;) Watch and review, these dvd’s will walk you through real life shooting and editing techniques I use every day.

This was fun for me! I’ll have to do it again using even less money! Agree? disagree with my way? Tell me how you’d do it!


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