The Camera Gear I Use For Portrait Photography

What kind of camera do you use? This is a question I get asked a LOT! So I thought I would write this post and break down all the gear I use and why I choose to use what I do. What I use may or may not be right for someone else. I mainly shoot portraits, whereas another photographer may shoot landscapes, or weddings, or sports photography, and in that case may need a different set up.

Please be aware that this blog post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you, I promise!) to help me keep this blog running if you use these links to make a purchase. And as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please note that I only recommend tools that I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interest at heart.

And another thing! At the end of the day, it really isn’t the gear that makes the photographer. Yes, of course, having quality equipment is awesome and allows you to do soo much more, but a good photographer can take a great picture with a cheap camera or even just an iphone.

I shot this picture of my son asleep in his car seat with my iphone 8 plus. I absolutely love this image and I didn’t have my camera with me at the time. But I adjusted the exposure on my iphone and I shot through the front head rest to give it a cool perspective. If I didn’t already have strong photography skills, I wouldn’t have thought to do all those little things that create a good photograph.

So, before I dive into what gear I use, I just want you to remember that you can make great images with whatever gear you already have. Once I start feeling limited by the gear I have, I know it’s time to upgrade. If you are just starting out in photography, build your skills first and make great images with what you have. Once you can do that, then you know it’s time to expand.


I’m always asked if I prefer Canon or Nikon. I have used equipment from both companies and I have to say that they are both equally amazing. I started out with a Nikon camera and a couple of lenses. But decided to switch to Canon when it was time to upgrade, just to see if I liked it any better.

Honestly, they are both just stellar companies that make great photography gear. I have chosen to stick with Canon. I feel like their camera menus are easy to navigate and I am just very comfortable with canon gear.


OK, I think I have gone on long enough! So let’s dive in. I currently have two cameras, the Canon 5D Mark II and the Canon 5D Mark III. But what? Those are older models? You don’t have the fanciest, newest model that Canon just launched?? No I do not and here’s why. I just don’t need them. I’m a portrait photographer. These cameras both have more than enough megapixels for me to create huge prints of my portraits. They are fast, work great, and I am totally comfortable with the camera menus. I know these cameras well.

I mainly shoot with the Mark III and the Mark II sits in my extra camera bag as a backup. The Mark III does everything I need for my portrait photography. When I upgrade (because I’m sure at some point I will have abused this poor camera to death), I will have to spend the time familiarizing myself with whatever camera I decide to purchase.

I’m not ready to put in the effort to date another camera right now. The Mark III and I have been going steady for a while now and it fulfills all of my needs at the moment. The Mark III is definitely a step up from the Mark II in terms of ISO, which is the main reason I upgraded. But if I am shooting during the day, the Mark II works just fine!


Here is where I like to put my money. I like my cameras, but for me, if I’m going to splurge, it’s going to be on a sweet, delicious lens. I’m already drooling a little…

Ok, so I have a Canon 85 mm 1.8 lens which I love for portrait photography. The compression on this lens is killer and it’s great for outdoor portraits. It has great bokeh and just creates a soft, buttery background that I love. It’s fairly affordable and I think a great lens if you are interested in portrait photography.

Child Portrait

This was shot with the 85mm. I just love the way it has compressed all the greenery in the background and really softened everything that is not in the main field of focus.

I also have the Canon 50mm 1.4 lens which I like for indoor portraiture or really nice close ups. It lets me get closer to my subject than the 85mm and still gives me that nice blurry background that I use in all my photography. If I have the room to move around I will try to shoot with my 85mm though, just because I feel like the compression is a little better and it just gives a more buttery, soft quality that I love. But if I am in a tight space I will use the 50mm.

I used my 50mm to shoot this image. I was inside and in a smaller space. You can see it still ldid a great job of softening the background and edges.

In the past, I used to shoot mainly out of doors. But recently I have really gotten into shooting more indoor images. At this point I am starting to feel a little limited with these two lenses for my indoor shooting and am looking for a wider angle lens. My next purchase is going to be a 35mm because I want to be able to encompass more background in the frame. Since I’m indoors, I am limited with how much space I have. A wider angle lens is going to allow me to fit more “in the picture” than the lenses I currently own. Hope that makes sense.

So far, both of those lenses are pretty affordable and, I think, are great options if you are getting into portrait photography. They give you the flexibility to work both indoors and outdoors. And they both have the ability to give you that great soft blurry background that can really enhance your portrait photography because it brings all of the focus onto your subject.

Remember when I said that I like to spend my money on lenses? Well, this lens is the most expensive thing in my camera bag. The Canon EF 200 mm f/2L is my baby. After my four real babies…this lens is the next thing I would save in a fire…joking…maybe not. The thing that makes this lens so magical is its ability to blur the background in an image shot from a distance.

If you have ever practiced blurring the background of your photographs, you know that the farther away you stand from your main subject the more in focus everything in the frame becomes. And the farther away you place your main subject from the background, the more blurry the background becomes. I was really feeling limited in my outdoor photography, until I purchased this lens. I wanted sweeping nature shots that still allowed my main subject to be the focal point, while blurring the background.

Fall Child Photography

You can see in this image I am MUCH farther away from the subject, but the background in still incredibly soft. This is what I love about the 200mm.

It just isn’t possible with a shorter lens and this lens allows me to shoot in a completely different way. Remember I said if you are taking great images, but feeling limited with your gear, then it’s time to upgrade? Well this was the situation for me. I knew exactly what kind of images I wanted to capture, but my gear just wasn’t capable of it.

Now this is not a cheap lens and it was a serious investment for me. But it was one that I have never regretted. This lens simply allows me to make photographs that I otherwise could not make. To me, it is worth every single penny.


Ok, so that is main equipment that I work with on a daily basis. I do have a flash, but I literally haven’t pulled it out of my camera bag in over two years. Maybe one day I will get back into using my flash, but for right now, I am strictly using natural light in my photography.

I also have a remote shutter release and a tripod (similar to this one) which both come in super handy when trying to take self portraits. I simply set my camera up on the tripod and then I can release the shutter from where ever I am posing. This saves me from having to run back and forth to the camera every time I take a shot.

A few of the additional accessories I have include, two of these canon camera bags and a camera back pack that comes in handy when I am hiking or out with the kids and need to be able to corral them with my hands.

I always am sure to have at least three of these SD cards at all times. Being a busy mom, I don’t always have the time to download all my photos onto my computer every time I shoot. I know that’s probably not the best practice, but like I said, BUSY mom. If I fill up one card, I know I have a couple more ready to go.

Frequently, I will be in the middle of some kind of chore, like folding laundry, and I will see one of my kids in a great moment that I want to photograph. Having multiple cards gives me to the freedom to just instantly pop in a fresh card and shoot away when maybe I wasn’t even planning to do so.

I walked downstairs and saw my son playing in this box and knew I had to get a shot right away.

So there you have it. This is the equipment that I use to create my photographs. I hope that by sharing the gear I use, you will be able to make more informed decisions about the gear that is right for you. Best of luck on your photography journey!

XO, Ruth




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Hi! I'm Ruth!

Welcome to my blog where I share all things photography related. I am a fine art photographer and photography instructor and mentor. I am also the mother to five wild little children who I homeschool. We love to explore nature while I take photographs along the way!

Fine art portrait photography


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