There are dozens, if not hundreds, of different camera accessories on the market, each fills a specific role in photography. Some accessories are essential to photographer of all kinds, while others are optional and are only useful for certain types of subjects or techniques. As you expand your horizons and try to photograph different subjects, you will find yourself in need of additional accessories. Accessories can be purchased from your camera stores, physical or online electronic shops; even Walmart has some accessories at very affordable prices.

There are many brands you can choose from when purchasing accessories. Depending on the brands and price levels, the quality and durability of these accessories vary drastically so you should always do some research before making any purchases. You should also remember that purchasing certain accessories does not magically turn you into a great photographer. Although accessories can be very useful, it is your creativity and skills that make you successful photographer.

Item #1: Camera Bags/Cases

When you get your camera, the first thing you should look into is getting a nice camera bag or case. Many people think it is unnecessary cost and simply place their cameras in their backpacks or purses, believing it to be adequate protection. However, there are many things that may go wrong. What if it rains and your backpack gets soaking wet? What if you accidentally drop your purse? What if your lens cover falls off and the glass gets scratched by other items in your bag? When you take these into consideration, the cost of a camera bag is really insignificant compared to the money you would spend on repairing your gears.

Item #2: Cleaning Kits

There are three items I find essential in keeping your cameras and lenses cleaned: lens cloth, brush pen and compress air. Please do not clean your lens with your shirt or try to remove dusts by blowing at your camera. It’ll only make it messier and may damage your lens glass or leave behind moisture, which may help fungus to grow in your lens. Also, when cleaning your lens, do not use general glass cleaning agents because it may damage the coating on your lens glass.

Item #3: Tripods

A sturdy tripod is a must-have if you want to shoot long-exposure photos. It keeps the camera steady while the shutter is released, exposing the film or sensor to light for duration. Because it is mostly used outdoor, the tripod must have enough weight so it does not get blown away winds.

Item #4: Remote Shutter Releases

Remote shutter releases are another must-have for long-exposure shots, and may come in the form of a remote with a single button on it or, for older cameras, a cable with the release mechanism to hold the shutter open. It is an especially important tool if you are shooting with an exposure time longer than the available preset timers the camera has.

Tripods and Remote Shutter Releases are essential for taking long exposure photos like light trails, cityscape at night, fireworks and such. The photo below is a great example: using tripod and setting exposure time to 2 to 4 seconds, I was able to capture the fireworks as they were launched a few miles away.
Fourth of JulyItem #5: Reflectors

There are two types of reflectors: lamp reflectors and board reflectors. Lamp reflectors are usually fixed at the light source, shaping the light with their concave inner surface and directing it towards the subject. Board reflectors, on the other hand, are flat bounce board with reflective surface to bounce light either at an angle to or directly opposite from the light source. They are mostly used to control shadows and highlight. Reflectors are most useful for portrait shots, allowing a more even distribution of light and remove hard shadows on the subject.

Item #6: External Flash Units

This is perhaps the most important, and the most expensive, piece of accessory, but it is going to be money well-spent. An external flash unit illuminates the subjects and settings, giving you more options and flexibility when composing a portrait shot in low-light environment. Although every camera nowadays comes with an onboard flash unit, it is insufficient by comparison and not the most ideal way to illuminate the subjects. The bigger brands, such as Nikon and Canon, may cost hundreds of dollars to purchase, but there are smaller brands like YongNuo that offer good quality flash units at relative affordable prices. Make sure the model you are purchasing is compatible with your camera and you’ll save hundreds of dollars on flash units.

The photo below is an example of using external flash and bouncing light around the subjects. Notice how evenly distributed the light is and there’s not too much shadows on the subjects’ face.
A Toast to YouThere are many more accessories that can greatly help you with your photography. Before you actually make any purchases, make sure you understand their purposes, know how to use them properly, and always buy the brands that are known for producing good quality items. It may cost you a little more, but it will be a great investment for you in the long run.