I’ve got tons of pics to edit and post from the last couple of weeks, but we’ll get to that later. Today I wanted to update you all on something new I’ll be doing with my blog this year. Since starting my business in 2007, I’ve been so flattered to receive questions from Moms, Dads & general photo-enthusiasts about how I take the types of pictures I take. As anyone who knows me knows, I’m a sharer, and have absolutely no problem answering these questions. However, since the number of inquiries has significantly increased in recent months (I think because I joined Facebook) I haven’t had quite as much time to devote to each answer as I used to. So, I thought I’d share some of what I get asked with you on this blog. Those of you who have asked in the past know that I’m pretty good about getting back to you right away, and sharing as much information as I can. Honestly, I’m just so touched that you like my pictures enough to ask about them, that helping has been a real pleasure.
If you’re a pro, you’ll likely already know all this stuff, especially the initial questions. However, if you’re a Mom or a Dad who just wants to take better pics of your kids, I think you’ll like some of these tips. At least, I’ve been told that by others I’ve helped out.
Of course, my biggest “tip” will always be to make sure you hire a Professional at least once a year to capture your family on film. No matter how talented of a photographer you are, and no matter how much you learn, there simply isn’t any substitute for having someone else photograph you and your loved ones. I know it can be pricey, but consider it an investment that will become more valuable, and more precious to you over time.
For now though, I guess I’ll start with the question I receive most often which is: “What type of Camera do you use?”
Here is the answer: I shoot with an SLR (Single Lens Reflex) Camera called a Canon 5D, but there are many different types of SLR’s, so if you don’t want to spend that type of money on a camera body, you can still get really amazing pictures with a less expensive version. When you go to the camera store, in order not to feel foolish you should know that there are two main types of digital cameras you’ll choose from - which are commonly categorized as either SLR’s or Point and Shoots. If you already have an SLR, you should know it. If you are using a camera that fits in your pocket or purse, it’s probably a Point-and-Shoot. P&S cameras are great, but if you have kids, you’ll start to notice their limits when you attempt to capture motion and really sharp detail. You may get a lot of blur (even with Image Stabilization lenses) and you will probably be frustrated with the shutter-lag time. This is a really good article explaining the difference between P&S Cameras and SLRs. You will be much more limited with a point & shoot, so if it’s in your budget, and if you’re serious about photography, I would recommend investing in an SLR.
That being said, you may be hesitant to invest in an SLR because every article in the world is going to tell you there is a major learning curve, and really, that just isn’t entirely true. If you want to learn to shoot manually, yes, there is a major learning curve. But if you want to cheat, just shoot in the Auto mode for now. If you’re currently shooting with a P&S camera, you probably use the Auto mode quite a bit (aka “the green box”) which basically does most of the thinking for you. SLR’s also have an Auto mode and there’s nothing wrong with using it. You’ll immediately take higher quality pictures than you have probably ever taken before, right out of the box. If you buy an SLR, spend about an hour going through the manual, and just keep it on Auto mode for a while until you’re ready to learn more. The Auto mode does not have a learning curve, and other than figuring out how to attach a lens, and upload jpgs onto your computer (both easy to do, both explained in the manual) you really won’t have much more to learn. Of course, most pros typically shoot in the Manual or Semi-Manual modes, but when I got my first SLR, I used the Auto mode a lot. You’ll love it, and down the road when you’re ready, you can learn all about aperture, shutter speed, and how to get creative with your shots. But for now, using a good SLR in the auto mode will immediately change your picture taking life.
As for what to buy, the two most popular to start out with are typically the Canon Rebel or the Nikon D60, both SLR’s, and both under $1,000. They typically come with a basic lens (called the “kit” lens) which isn’t that great by pro standards, but will make you feel like a Rock Star compared to what you’re getting with a point & shoot. I started out with a Rebel, and just recently sold it (I loved that camera!) and you can get some really amazing pictures from it. After I began to get frustrated with the kit lens, I bought the 50MM 1.8 for under $100. It is a “fixed” or “prime” lens (which just means it doesn’t zoom) and packs some amazing bang for the buck. Most of my early work, and many of the images on my website were created using the Rebel and that little lens. These days, I shoot with the Canon 24-70/2.8 L, the Canon 16-35/2.8 L, and the Canon 100mm/2.0 but I’d be lying if I said that I don’t miss my Rebel and my little 50mm fixed..if for nothing else than the pure convenience of not having to lug around 20 lbs of camera equipment everywhere I go.
That’s probably too much information as it is for now, but I hope I’ve helped. I’ll write more about working with natural light and how to use different lenses next time. One final thing, be really careful when buying your equipment. Some of the “big box” store prices are much higher, and they have hefty restocking fees if you need to make a return. The two places I love and trust are 17th Street Photo and B&H. Hope that helps!! For now, Happy New Year again, and I hope you enjoy 2009! Hugs, PB