What Camera Gear Makes Me the Most Money

As a working professional commercial photographer, the return on investment (ROI) of your equipment is very important. Or at least it should be. In this video, I look at what actually makes me money.

For me, my photography can be broken down into two areas when it comes to kit. The gear that physically pays the bills, and the gear that allows me to make the images to get booked to pay the bills. This might sound a bit strange, but all that art buyers and creatives want to see is your personal work when your rep or agent presents your book. The kit you need for your personal work often differs wildly from the gear you need to execute their commercial projects.

In this video I look at the kit I use the most to physically generate income and also look at how I use that information to make informed purchases and to know when and what to spend my hard-earned money on. Although it's probably pretty obvious that within this list is a camera, lens, and studio light, you might be more surprised by exactly which ones it is, especially when my portfolio is incredibly specific and uses only one camera, lens and light throughout.

I think this is a good exercise for any professional photographer to make as it is all too easy to push cash into things that really shouldn’t have upgrades and then skimp on rather dull areas that actually make you a lot of money.

What equipment has offered you the best return on investment?

Scott Choucino's picture

Food Photographer from the UK. Not at all tech savvy and knows very little about gear news and rumours.

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Scott Choucino asked,

"What equipment has offered you the best return on investment?"

Currently, my Sigma 300-800mm and my Canon 100-400mm v2 are what I use for over 95% of the images that sell the most.

Formerly, it was the Canon 400mm f2.8, usually with a 1.4 teleconverter on it. I replaced the 400 f2.8 with the Sigma 300-800mm several years ago.

I also have a 105mm macro lens and the Canon 24-105mm. While I like using those lenses, the images from those aren't income-generators like the photos from the longer lenses are. The big, expensive "specialty" lenses are what make me all the money, while the less expensive, "normal" lenses make images that just don't sell very well.

Scott; Again, thanks for a great video.. Do you have a prior video on building your self-rental price list?

As always... great video. Question for you though... You talk about rental equipment and lights. I am trying to figure out what you are using that for. I have never needed to rent lights and for a food shoot I can't see how you would need more lights than I own. I keep my lights for a very long time so they definitely pay for themselves. Please explain how your lights are not enough for a particular job. I would love to understand this.


I am also interested in seeing what the author has to say about this. Good question!

Hi Brian,

Not sure how many lights you own, but I rent for a few reasons.

1. Shooting in a different studio and don't want to lug gear there.
2. Need specialist lights and packs that I don't own
3. Need more lights than I own either for a specific set up, redundancy, or because we are running multiple set ups at once
4. Need more 3200 packs and heads as I only have one of this power.

The cost to own all of this would be huge in comparison to renting as and when needed.

Hope that helps