You may already have a lot of the gear you’ll need. Here are the components for a basic setup.
One of the most important investments for your new portrait studio is a backdrop, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get started. Westcott’s X-Drop is a complete kit, including a stand and a 5×7-foot backdrop for $99. Additional backdrop colors are available for around $49, including standard black and white, a few traditional patterns and a greenscreen backdrop if you want to add digital backgrounds to your portraits. The X-Drop sets up in about a minute and collapses down to fit into the included travel case that’s less than three feet long, so it’s easy to bring on location, too.
Most professional portrait photographers use a moderate telephoto lens because that focal range allows them to crop out background distractions while working a comfortable distance from the subject. Telephoto lenses also compress perspective, which is generally flattering for portraits as this reduces the prominence of the nose. Tamron’s SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD is a great zoom lens for APS-C cameras, with a 35mm equivalent of about 36-105mm, plus Vibration Compensation when you want to handhold. Sigma’s prime 85mm F/1.4 EX DG HSM is another great portrait lens, ideal for full-frame shooters. Both lenses have fast apertures to create pleasing bokeh and soft backgrounds.