A Simple Guide for the Beginner Photographer and What's in My Bag!


It’s Here!

My guide for the beginner photographer!
I really wanted to share this with all of you because I have been getting quite a few messages on Instagram on this topic, and, while I want to have all of the time in the world to help all of you, I figured a short blog and list would be the best option for all of us so you can always refer back to it!

Okay. Here we go.

Before we get started on listing gear that I’ve used before…Or right when I started out, I want to let each one of you know that it’s not about the gear you have. What? Yeah. I said it. Your gear doesn’t necessarily matter. Have you ever seen Brandon Woelfel’s YouTube video where he makes beautiful low-lit images using a toy camera? No?
Well here it is! Go watch and see for yourself! It’s an incredible learning tool.
Success in creating appealing images takes the following:

  • Understanding whatever gear you already own

  • A Great Composition and Concept

  • Knowing your editing software like the back of your hand.

I will probably be talking about my editing processes and tips and tricks in a later post, but I cannot stress enough that if you know your editing software (for me, it’s Lightroom), you can achieve great results with almost any image with any device.
I’m not saying to start taking professional photos with your phone or toy camera though, peeps. You still need to maintain that level of professionalism for your clients. However, if you’re just starting out… Have $20 or $40 to spend on gear and what to have fun with your friends…Buy something like this and a monthly subscription to Creative Cloud and see how far your cash can carry you.

So Let’s Get Down To It.

When I first started my journey into photography, I had a Polaroid camera and a Kodak Easy Share. I took photos of everything, and my parents always had to buy me more film for my polaroid…Which wasn’t cheap. Fast forward about 8 years to when I turned 17 years old. My parents bought me my very first DSLR. A Nikon D5000 (The reason behind this purchase is saved for a later post! It’s important!) Anways, this camera was everything, and it was my main camera for at least 7 years. It had a rotating LCD Screen, great low-light capabilities (for the time), double exposure modes, and an interval self timer. For me being 17 years old with an entire world ahead of myself, this was the ultimate creation station. See photo below for how crazy things could get with this sucker.

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Like I said. This thing was my baby. It was really hard to sell it just a couple of years ago, but it all went to fund my full-frame upgrade. Looking at Amazon now, this camera runs used for about $299. Not a bad price at all! When it comes to cameras, in my opinion, it’s best to purchase a camera with an interchangeable lens mount, full-frame if you can (it will just make your lens shopping a little easier), and the option to shoot in RAW Format. Raw format creates better, high-quality images that cater to your editing processes way more than anything else can. It’s basically taking the root of your image…gathering everything it can…and leaving it there for you to beautify later on…Nothing left out and no compression at all! I didn’t start shooting RAW until way later in my career, so I can not stress this enough to all of you that you definitely want to shoot in raw if you’re trying to get high quality images. Click here to view more info on this topic!

So why do I need the ability to change my lenses?

Until you see it for yourself, you won’t realize how much you can upgrade your older camera just by changing the glass you’re shooting with. I remember the first time I got a brand spankin’ new 50mm on my Nikon D3400 (Also a great affordable camera). This new lens changed my entire outlook on my camera. Granted, I was using the 50mm on a crop sensor body…Which made my focal area a little complicated at times, but with that wide open aperture of 1.8, I was really able to create some fun, artsy images that had drastic bokeh backgrounds with a sharp subject in tow. Thanks to great editing software in 2019, you have the capability to create this effect in post-processing as well, so you don’t absolutely have to have an interchangeable lens camera, but it does help!

What if I can’t afford it?

Start cheap and stick with that toy camera suggestion I mentioned earlier and see what you can do with it! Otherwise, shop refurbished or use items like I do. Everything in my camera bag (besides my prisms and things of that nature), I’ve acquired from Ebay or Amazon Certified Refurbished filters. Don’t be ashamed to use the used. Remember. It’s not what you use, but how you use it.

What’s in my bag:

Yes!!! I’ve been wanting to show you for a while now! This is the gear I currently use. Remember, all of this is refurbished or previously owned. No shame. No. Shame.

  • Canon 5D Mk II (Purchased for about $800 on Ebay. It’s my baby and my upgrade before I can actually afford a bigger upgrade)

  • Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens

  • Canon 85mm f/1.4 lens - It’s a tank, I bought it used from a sweet girl online, and it’s beautiful. This is a perfect portrait lens because it avoids any distorting angles you get from lenses with lower focal lengths (your 50mm, 35mm, etc.)

  • Yongnuo YN35mm F2 lens - Alright. Would I recommend this to everyone for a 35mm lens? Somewhat. It’s sharp…I’ll give it that. However, it’s extremely loud and “sounds cheap”. With the price point being $83.76 on Amazon, though, it’s hard to pass up when you can’t afford a Sigma Art Lens like you dream of pretty often. Sigh One of these days!

  • Polaroid Macro Filters - I don’t believe these are the exact ones I use because mine fit my 85mm lens, but these work really well when you have the patience to focus in on tiny things! :). I use these on top of my 85 for all of my wedding ring shots or my other super close-up images.

  • Prism - You’ll more than likely see this effect in quite a few of my images, but I love to keep this thing on the back burner when I want to add some a new element in-camera!

  • CF Cards - The smaller the better on these when it comes to your bigger sessions like weddings or other related events. I always want to be changing my cards with events like these so if one fails, I don’t lose everything from that day. And last but not least…To house those cards, we have this:

  • Beeway CF Card Holder - I ADORE this thing. It’s shockproof, waterproof, and dust proof. Plus, it’s never a bad thing to organize those things. Did you know…I label my CF Cards with the character names from Shameless? Seriously. Ian, Fiona, Frank, Lip, etc. They’re all there, and they help me keep my images in line.

Kansas City Photographer

This concludes my ever-growing list, but feel free to leave any questions or comments you have below! View the photo above to see a little sneak peek of some apparel shoots the hubby and I have been working on and check out Wasteland Society to pick up some neat rebel attire :).
Until next week,