Stepping up your photography game can feel intimidating. There’s so much information out there, and if you’re a rookie walking into a professional camera shop, you’ll probably have no idea where to begin. That’s why we asked Cape Town-based fashion photographer Niquita Bento, a creative assistant at Elle magazine and winner of the coveted 2013 Elle Style Reporter Award, for some tips and tricks to creating images like hers.

Hey Niquita, could you share you camera suggestions for readers?
An entry level digital single-lens reflex or DSLR is a perfect start. I would also suggest picking a prime fixed lens too because you can find affordable options. [Unlike a zoom lens, a prime lens has a fixed focal length. It’s less versatile because you can’t zoom in and out, but it offers superior optical quality and a wider maximum aperture.] I started with a 50mm lens and a Nikon D90, and it was perfect.

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photographyWhat about lenses?
As mentioned, I love a prime lens but my favourite would be my 24 – 70mm. It’s such a great all-rounder lens that I end up using for almost everything. From my travel to fashion photography, it’s my number one go-to.

Name one piece of equipment you can’t do without?
A lens filter. I’ve had several horrific occasions over the years where my lens filter saved me from replacing a lens from a bad fall.

What kind of tripod do you use?
Manfrotto tripods are my favourites. They’re super durable and easy to use.

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Let’s chat lighting: when it comes to taking photographs with natural light, what do you have to consider? Alternatively, when you’re in a studio, how does your set-up differ?
I am a huge fan of keeping things simple. Most of the time, when I shoot outdoors, the most I will have with me is a bounce reflector. In a studio, I usually stick to one light modifier, but it does differ from project to project.

What programmes are best to use for editing?
I started out using Lightroom and Photoshop and still find them both to be the easiest. I love Lightroom for batch processing, and I switch to Photoshop for all the fine retouching.

What’s the most valuable advice you’ve learnt on the job?
It’s really easy to be influenced and inspired by so many other great photographers work, but I’ve learnt that it’s important to have your own unique style.

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Photography by Niquita Bento.
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