5 Things You Don't Need as a Beginner Portrait Photographer

When you are a new photographer, it can be easy to be tempted by a wide variety of products that promise quick shortcuts to better or more memorable images. But a lot of these products will not do you any good or could even cause harm to your work. This excellent video discusses five things you do not actually need as a new portrait photographer.

Coming to you from Miguel Quiles, this helpful video details five things you should not be tempted to buy as a new portrait photographer. Of them, I think the item newer photographers most often fall for is presets. Good portrait editing skills take a long time to develop, and it also takes time to develop a discerning eye for finding the right balance in an edit, something that presets cannot teach. Furthermore, presets will not teach you how to perform localized edits such as cleaning up blemishes. But most importantly, a lot of developing a personal style comes in how you edit your photos, which is why it is so crucial to put the time in. Once you have learned, you might decide to make presets of your own, which will then help you save time. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Quiles. 

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Ryan Cooper's picture

I think this should be more "5 things Beginner Commercial Portrait Photographers Should Never Buy"

The UV one is always relevant, but 2,3 seem more geared towards emphasizing that photographers focus on developing elite-level but very slow post-production. Which is absolutely and utterly critical if you intend to build a commercial-style portfolio.

He is right, AI retouching won't give you an acceptable commercial look but it can give you a more than acceptable look for casual portraits or non-commercial portraiture. The same goes for presets. Both are a massive efficiency gain trades for a quality loss. Good enough is often good enough. ;) Not every photographer needs or wants to spend hours retouching every image. It's all about your goals. (That said, it is still worth learning the theory of doing it the hard way as it will empower decision making)

Side note, the AI tools are getting better and better. We are not far away from them being able to do commercial quality beauty retouching. I'd also add that many of them have features that are actually creatively pretty useful if used sparingly and with a skilled eye.

Daniel Medley's picture

I mostly agree. I do have a quality UV filter, though. It's only on my camera when I'm shooting in in extremely dusty, sandy, or wet conditions. Other than that, it's never on my lens.

Personally, I've never understood the appeal of presets beyond the very new/inexperienced. In my experience they're not even a good starting point. Like Miguel said, unless you're shooting in pretty much the same lighting conditions, settings, etc., presets are not going to be relevant for most any given shot.

Regarding skin retouching software--AI tools. I personally know a "high end" internationally published commercial photographer; I'm talking everything from album covers to fashion magazine covers, who uses SkinFiner of all things. And his works ARE absolutely commercial quality. Keep in mind that he doesn't just throw on SkinFiner and call it good. He uses manual processes to remove blemishes and dodge and burn techniques for, probably, 90 percent of the flow. Then finishes off with a very light dose of SkinFiner. For him, it saves a ton of time and produces pretty amazing results.

Bruce Hargrave's picture

Presets are just snake oil. I'm amazed at the amount of YouTube "photographers" that sell them.

Bjarne Solvik's picture

I bought some mid class Sony SD cards on sale. After that I had no problems. The one I had before was also by a brand but I got errors. it’s so irritating. A good card is worth it.

Chris Rogers's picture

really all you need is one camera a memory card and one lens.

Lance Jekel's picture

Excellent and informative tutorial. I just want to say ”Awesome”. Excellent work. Keep it up. Thanks for sharing.