How to Create a Great Portrait with Minimal Equipment

Equipment has always been at the center of the professional photographer’s world. More and more, it feels like a mad rush to accumulate the best possible camera, the finest lenses, the most elite lighting system. There are photographers out there who will look down at someone for owning and using anything less than the top-of-the-line gear, trying to bolster their own sense of self satisfaction. Many of us might fall into the trap ourselves, for the simple reason that we’ve been so thoroughly steeped in the culture of it all. For anyone who sees the folly in this line of thinking, this new release from French photographer Philippe Echaroux will come as a breath of fresh air:

In the video, Echaroux uses a budget of 10 euros to come up with a lighting setup for a portrait session. With that, he goes to Ikea and buys a simple desk lamp with a bright bare bulb. Then, leaving his beautiful high-end cameras behind (including a gorgeous medium-format Hasselblad), he brings out his iPhone to take the shot.

The results are wonderful. With the high resolution made possible by modern smartphone cameras, this experiment really displays the democratization of photography. Using equipment that any home would have lying around, he creates a dramatic, dynamic portrait. That, of course, isn’t to say that a good camera is obsolete – the iPhone lacks 75% of the capabilities of a decent DSLR, such as depth of field control, long exposure, and choice of focal length, to name just a few. However, this exercise does go to show that it doesn’t matter so much what equipment we own, as how we use it. Especially in portraiture, the essential components of a beautiful image lie in the expressiveness of the face and the way it is lit.

smartphone photography

Sometimes we get lost, and we forget whether we love photography, equipment, or just feeling in some way superior to others, and only one of those things is good for the soul. By learning to leave the fanciness behind every now and then, we can rekindle that faith in the endless possibilities of the photographic medium, and remember the fun that made us love it in the first place. This video reminds us to never forget that photographs aren’t made by a camera, they’re made by us.

Like This Article?

Don't Miss The Next One!

Join over 100,000 photographers of all experience levels who receive our free photography tips and articles to stay current:

6 responses to “How to Create a Great Portrait with Minimal Equipment”

  1. joy says:

    This is what photography should start with…talent..knowledge of light and using it to the best way you can. Great video!

  2. Michael Lau says:

    Good reminder that photos are made by us and that creativity never ends.

  3. Debbie says:

    When loading phone images to computer to print, I notice the pictures arent 8MP. When printing some are gritty and blurred. Is the problem in loading to computer? Im new to the camera to computer to print world.

    • talia says:

      You may need to go into your phone’s camera settings and change the resolution to 8 megapixels, if your phone is capable of that. Phones will often default to taking lower-resolution pictures for easier sending and sharing over the internet.

  4. Debbie Borato says:

    Thank you, I thought that may be the case

  5. Debbie says:

    Anyway to prevent the default from enabling?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New! Want more photography tips? We now offer a free newsletter for photographers:

No, my photos are the best, close this forever