......based upon my experience of all the years I have been shooting....and making mistakes, this is what I would get as essentials and things that I'd suggest.....which are simply my opinions based upon my personal experiences.. (the disclaimer has been announced)..
1. Buying a "small format system" be it digital or film, buy either Canon or Nikon SLR systems.. If you run into a situation where you need to rent equipment.... have fun finding rental gear for Pentax, Contax, Lica, Minolta....zent......voitlander....hmmmm did I miss any?? Also, if your town is in a situation like mine....where the only place that rented out professional equipment closed... (Helix in Milwaukee....I miss you guys!! Come back!!!)...then you will have to make a lot of friends who will rent out their equipment to you if you are fully insured..
2. Oh yes..... have insurance....liability of at least 2million bucks for an umbrella coverage...because this day and age...where trial attorneys run TV ads for personal injury cases and make a lawsuit over a simple fall...resulting in mostly brused ego... look like easy money....you might want to have it if a model...falls off the back of your poseing stool..... or breaks her nose while walking one way and talking another.. Remember that there are people in this world who will want to come after you because of the perception you create by having a nifty camera..
3. Omni-bounce...I think that's what they are called... they are a pricy little piece of plastic that you can drink out of and they softed light from a dedicated flash head nicely without taking up a lot of space in your bag...and are quick and easy to attach..
4. My trusty stroboframe's... I own two of them... which are an essential tool for wedding photography...or photojournalism..(even though most PJ shooters don't use them....but they should) there are other models and brands that do a nice job...but I love mine...tall enough yet compact enough and have a very simple opperation.. Imy older one is 10 years old and I use it all the time..
5. Getting two two affordable cameras that do a good enough job for you that are identical / the same model...with the same configuration.. There is nothing like the feeling you get when you are covering something really important and you have to waste a good shot because you had to dink around with the controlls.. Also, having two cameras...one being the "main body"...the other being the back-up... I like to work with at least two cameras at all times..one with a 70-200 L and the other with the 17-35 L.. for event and PJ jobs.. I'll keep the 28-70 in my vest or belt pack...and my 300 on my shoulder.. Having the "latest and greatest" stuff can bankrupt you if you are not making your money back on it many times back on it within the first year from...this is why many pros are stuborne to give up their old junk.. like my ageing 1n film bodies..which I used yesterday for the first time in 6 months.. If it's paid for and it can take good photos, then hang onto it.. 7 years ago digital cameras that thad a 6MP chip cost about 30K! Today for 1,500 bucks you can have a camera that kicks dirt ion the face of that old, slow, bulky and limited junk and have the same file size.. This how I look at it..... if the equipment was good enough for pros to spend a lot of money on it a few years ago....that produced quality images, then use it until it drops dead.....let a "generation" or two pass bye..before replaceing it.. I'm very content with what I have and hold no regrets at all... Oh, and I'm looking for the next 1Ds body to come out so that the people who have the current one will think that they NEED to upgrade to the newer one so they can take quality snap shots of their cats, kids b-day parties and sports cars... I'll just buy a used one.....have the shutter replaced and or have it overhauled and it will work like new for years to come for much less than that it did new....or their replacements.. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]
6. Buy your lens system with name brand lenses....because of incompatibility issues that you won't become aware of with your brand new camera body until you expect your old lens that you saved a few bucks on ...to work on it...which really really stinks! I have all Canon... nothing but Canon..because of my experiences with Tamron and Sigma...back when I shot with Minolta.. If I shot Nikon, I would have all Nikon as well..
7. If you do location photography, get professional equipment cases to protect your investment....they also are a marketing tool to have because everything just looks so professional to those who see you working.. Keep some business cards in one of them.. ....oh, and buy a cart! Nothing like having wheels to roll around your heavy stuff...Yep!..
8. Knowing your equipment inside and out.... shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot.....and learn..
9. Having a laptop computer for location work and for hotel stays is essential.. Having to lug around a Powermac with a monitor is a bitch!
10. Having a van and a compact car...(with a trunk) lug your stuff around in... for big jobs, a van is nice...I don't own one but I'll rent one if the job requires one.. I can put everything from boom stands to paper rolls in a van as well as all my gear and keep it all cozy warm while traveling on the road in winter.. or air conditioned in summer.. Having a compact car with a trunk is nice for zipping around town for smaller jobs that don't require the kitchen sink.. (oh and hotel rates are better just outside the big cities..)
Well, I could go into more....... but I thought I'd let it go at 10 for now....What are yours?? What would do differently now....based upon your learning experiences?