Photography is an addictive hobby. What starts with a single, basic point-and-shoot camera often blossoms into a full-blown obsession that sees people stocking up on enough camera equipment to qualify them for an episode of "Hoarders."
But you don't have to take equipment to extremes to make wonderful pictures. Whether you shoot digital or film, there are a few photography essentials that will keep you well-stocked and ready for just about any shooting situation.
We'll start with a few bits of photographic paraphernalia that are helpful no matter what kind of camera you use. Novice photographers especially often overlook the importance of a really good camera bag. Cheap bags lack sufficient pockets and padding. Quality bags, however, are really roomy and help you organize all of the little things that you have to pack with your camera.
Those little things are critical to creating great pictures. They include items such as a blower brush (a rubber bulb with soft bristles at the end) and cleaning paper for your lens, extra film or flash cards and batteries, your camera manual, and a plastic bag for protecting your expensive gear in case of a sudden downpour.
Other items may come in handy, too. If your camera has a hotshoe (a little metal square on top with electrical contacts), you can attach an external flash. External flashes offer much more flexibility and range than a simple pop-up flash, letting you direct and control light in endless ways.
If you own an SLR (single-lens reflex) camera that lets you attach different lenses to the camera body, you'll want to invest in a variety of lenses, from wide-angle lenses that let you capture big landscapes to telephoto lenses that greatly magnify distant objects, such as skittish wildlife.
And last but certainly not least, a tripod is perhaps the quintessential piece of gear for amateur and professional photographers alike. A tripod provides a solid, stable platform for your camera, reducing blurry images caused by shaky hands or a stiff wind.
There are plenty of other essential supplies you need for your camera. Keep reading to find out more about important equipment that will help you take your pictures to new artistic heights.