A question we get all of the time here at Help-Portrait is what kind of equipment do I need for my Help-Portrait event.

Austin Mann, a Dallas based photographer that put on the HP event in Dallas last year put together a list of things he used for his event in Dallas and he also included a video that walks you through each piece of equipment along with some suggestions and explanations on how and why he used the equipment he did and how it can be successful for your event.

You don’t have to use all of this particular equipment in order to have a successful Help-Portrait event, but hopefully this will point you in the correct direction.

Here is an excerpt from a blog post Austin put up from his event last year.


We set up eight photo stations, each with a photographer and also digital tech to run the computer/printer. Everybody shot tethered. THIS WAS A HUGE LIFESAVER. There’s no way we would have been able to work with so many people if we didn’t shoot tethered. By doing it this way, we could have someone editing, selecting and printing favorites as the pictures were being shot. Shooting to cards and swapping them out can get so complicated fast when you’re trying to keep track of what images are where, which cards have been copied, etc.

Each station had a white seamless backdrop. We got 9-foot rolls, 60 feet in length and cut the paper into four 9ft x15ft pieces and gaffed those pieces to the wall for our backdrop (one piece per station, 9ft going horizontal). If I did it again, I’d get the 12-foot rolls because 9ft just wasn’t quite wide enough to accommodate all the families we had.

We worked with a local rental company, BOLT, and they gave us a great deal on all the lighting equipment and backdrops. The church provided us with about 30 volunteers, this was tremendously helpful in managing such a large group of people… it would have been chaos without them!

Here is a video that Austin did explaining the equipment needed.

Here’s what we had at each of the eight photo stations:

We had one powerpack that could handle at least two heads at each station. You really don’t need anything fancy, some stations had Dyna-lite, some Profoto Acutes and some Profoto D4s… D4s were definitely preferable but not essential.
We had two heads at each station, one with an umbrella and the other to blow out the backdrop. In some cases a third head would have been nice, but again not essential. Head power extensions are a huge help when using a centrally located pack, so you have flexibility to move the lights around where you want but still keep the cords on out of the way.

We also had two C-stands (w/ arm & knuckle), one for each head, at the stations. C-Stands are heavy and cumbersome but so worth for the flexibility the offer compared to a regular tripod stand.

We had one nine foot seamless white backdrop at each station. 12 foot would have been better. We just taped the big sheets up on the wall.

Printers & Paper
At five of the stations we had Canon iP4700s. They were perfect… $99/each, super fast, ink efficient, small, and great quality. We also had some bigger printers (like Canon Pro9000s) in case we needed bigger prints but we never really did.

We used mostly 4×6 paper, cause that’s the fastest and easiest to print. The paper we used was Canon Photo Paper Glossy 4×6.

We also used a lot of 8.5×11 for larger prints. The paper we used for that was Canon Photo Paper Plus Semi-Gloss.

As for ink, I got WAY too much. The entire day of printing we replaced less than 10 ink cartridges ALL TOGETHER. That’s after printing somewhere in the range of 1200 4x6s and 150 8.5x11s! I had three backups for every cartridge for every printer. I would recommend one backup and if you need more you can go get it.

To protect the prints, we put them in Easy Mounts Clear Plastic Sleeves. These really helped a lot and I wish I had gotten some for the 8.5x11s.

Miscellaneous Essentials:

Tables and Chairs
Each station had an 8 foot table. This provided room for the laptop, the printer, extra ink/paper and lenses etc. We also had a couple chairs/stools available for the digital tech and also for the people if they felt more comfortable sitting for their picture.

Power Extensions
You don’t want to get caught somewhere without power. What if for some reason you have to shoot outside instead of in the parking lot? Have plenty lengthy power cords on hand.

Gaff Tape
Can’t get enough of this stuff. We used to keep our tether cable secure in camera, to hold up our backdrops, to tape down cords so people wouldn’t trip and so much more.

15 FT USB cable for tethering
We used these to to connect the cameras to the Macs. We had 10 ft extensions available too, but didn’t really need them.

I hope this is helpful for those of you who are trying to figure out how to put on your event. If you have any suggestions or ideas that worked well from your event last year, please reply to this blog and share your wisdom with us.