Best photography kit for a beginner: advice from professional photographer, Paul

Paul is our host for photography holidays in the Dordogne region of France, and has been working in the industry for the past 20 years. He loves teaching others the art, and has graciously answered some recurring questions that come from clients interested in exploring this beloved hobby.

Paul’s advice on a Photography kit:


Don’t fall into the trap of buying too much equipment. My advice is to go for good quality equipment (possibly second-hand). Think ‘art’ and not ‘equipment’. Don’t be overwhelmed by the magazine ‘must haves’.

If someone is just starting out in photography, what are the top 3 things they must have?

A DSLR, a mid-range zoom lens and a reasonable computer running a good quality photo editing software package along with a medium size storage card.

What type of camera do they need?

Nikon D5100, Kit 18-55 lens, and try to all keep the camera setting on ‘Aperture Priority ‘ is my advice to start.

What accessories are beneficial for beginners?

A good quality (medium size) camera bag, a good tripod and a large reflector is useful.

How many lenses and what types of lenses do they need?

To start, a 18-55mm is ideal.

Do you have any brands for cameras, lenses, or accessories that you swear by?

I have always used Nikon equipment and it has never let me down. Manfrotto tripods are good quality and ScanDisk cards are good along with LowPro camera bags.

How should I care for my new kit?

Keep all your gear dry and dust free, and protect it from ‘knocks’. Protect your lens with a UV filter.

What is a great tip for a beginner?

Keep your mind on the art side of photography and not the equipment hype! Join a local club and visit photographic exhibitions if you can.

What are the best things to shoot in the Dordogne area?

The French towns are great for ‘street photography’. The villages and hamlets offer a glimpse into the past, and the countryside is great for landscape photography.


If you’re a newbie to the photography world and would like some hands-on advice from Paul, you can join him for a week-long photography holiday in beautiful Dordogne, France.