Photography does not create eternity, as art does; it embalms time, rescuing it simply from its proper corruption.
~Andre Bazin


St. Louis Summertime

Is it hot where you live? It is certainly summertime here. We have the temps and the humidity to prove it. Spring and Fall in our area are just way too short!
Since it’s been so hot I haven’t really been out working. No one enjoys getting out in our almost 100 degree temps here! Not even the plants. I took these photos before it got so hot that everything started to wilt and die. Pretty soon everything will just be brown and crispy because it got cooked by the St. Louis sun! 
I love how lush the greens look and how it looks cool. I am longing for our beautiful Spring weather again. If we all wish together maybe we can make that happen! (I wish it worked like that!)
What’s your weather like? Is it hot everywhere????

Here is one of my favorites from this past Spring!

Get yourself in gear….

How many times when you were growing up did your parents or grandparents tell you that you needed to get yourself in gear? If you are like me, well, I can’t even begin to count the times. I am notorious for being “fashionably late”, but when it comes to my business I am always ready to go.

When I tell someone for their business that they need to get in gear, I am talking about equipment. (Unless they are being fashionably late for shoots which is a big no-no!).

If you are starting out what gear do you really need? It can be overwhelming. Just go to and type in photography, lenses, or flash and you get so many hits that you can spend a week going through them all and never figure it out. 

The first thing you need is a DSLR camera. (Obviously!). Now I know that there are people who call themselves photographers who use point and shoots and **gasp** their cell phones, but they aren’t. Don’t be fooled by them. If they show up with a point and shoot or their cell phone, you should just leave. 

But should you spend the money on the 12 mp or 18 mp camera? Guess what? There’s not that big of a difference! If the cameras are otherwise comparable, you will get more details with the higher resolution. If you make 4×6 prints you can’t see a difference between a 12 megapixel and an 18 megapixel image. If you are wanting to enlarge the photo, the higher resolution one will allow you to enlarge it more. You might end up with a little more noise with the 12 megapixel, but other than that, not a whole lot of difference!

So, whether you are shooting with a Rebel Xsi or a Canon 5D Mark III, that is irrelevant in the beginning. Upgrading your camera is something you can save up and invest in after you learn your camera and have everything else you need. (I am not covering backdrops here either…those vary in price and if you are an on-location photographer you won’t need to invest in those anyway!)

But, let’s say you are starting out and your budget is limited, where do you start?

Just typing in the words “camera lens” on Amazon. com yielded 171,833 results!!! Overwhelming? Yes! 

What lens do you really need? Well, that depends on your subject.  If you are shooting 
portraits and you are on a budget you probably aren’t going to jump right in and get the 
85 mm 1.4 at $2000 or spend $2500 on the 70-200mm 2.8, are you? Nope. 
You will need to think more budget friendly.

I am going to give you a few lenses that are good starting points! 

(I shoot Canon, so just find the Nikon equivalent if that is what you shoot! )

The 28-135 f/5.5-5.6 lens is only $358.

The Tamron 28-75 F/2.8 is a wonderful lens. (I know this because I have one!). I love this lens. It’s a great all-purpose walking around and even shooting portraits lens. Quite honestly, I tend to keep this lens on my camera more than any of them!
Now are you ready for an amazing little lens that won’t even come close to breaking the bank? It’s the 50 mm 1.8  and it’s $114. Yes, you read that right. $114. I have this lens too and sometimes I just think I need my 50 for this shot!

Obviously, Photoshop or Lightroom. I know they are expensive, but this is an investment. You will use this as a tool to create and magnify your work. You will use it for prepping the images for print. Think of the camera as your paintbrush and the PS or Lightroom as your canvas to bring your art to life.

Yes, we all want the Speedlites, but they don’t fit into every budget. (A 430 EX for Canon will set you back about $499) but, here is a good lil’ flash and at $65.35 this Tongnuo YN-560 is way more economical than the Speedlite for someone just starting out. As you make money you can save and upgrade!

If you are going to be doing outdoor portraits, you will need at least one reflector. (Preferably two!). You can find 5-in-1 reflectors  that start at $12.49. Get at least the 43 inch ones!

White Balance Lens Cap:
If you use custom white balance it will save you time in post processing. I know there are photographers who say they don’t use it, but I always do. I find that it makes my editing time go much quicker if I am not having to adjust my white balance in post. 

You can get the gray card or you can get a Custom White Balance Lens Cap. And there are all kind of brands out there, but you can find them for as low as $5.15. Simply hold in front of your lens (no focusing needed) and point. It will display a color and you can decide if that is the one you want to use to set your WB. 
(Eventually you will be able to read the lighting and know if the color is spot on! At least that is what happened to me!)

Lens Cleaner
Before shoots I always clean my lenses. I love this tool. It has a gentle little moist cleaner on one end and then the brush on the other for dust. I keep one of these around at all times!
The LensPEN  is only $6.74.

Tripod or Monopod
If you are shooting in low light you will need a tripod. If you are shooting images of the moon, you are going to need a tripod. There are instances where you are going to need a tripod. If I take my camera with me, I take a tripod, just in case. I would rather have it and not need it at the time, than to not have it. Tripods are not expensive at all, you can get a Tripod  for about $19.99

If you don’t want to invest in a tripod, you might want to think about a monopod. If you are shooting sports events and using a long lens, your arm is going to get very tired of supporting the weight of the camera and the lens. If you are a nature photographer, this folds up nicely and can be strapped to a backpack. For the times when you don’t want to use a tripod, a monopod works really well. This monopod is only $16.99.

Business Cards:
Yes, you are going to need business cards….that is pretty much a given part of this. But do you really need to break the bank for some fancy cards. Nope. Vistaprint  can hook you up with some nice and very professional looking cards and they have a lot of photography related designs. 
(pricing varies according to design, but some are as cheap as $10!)

Camera Strap Cover:

I bet you are thinking “How can that make me a better photographer or help my business?”. Well, it won’t. Sorry. ☺ But I want you to think about all the summer time shoots you are going to be doing. Think about how hot and sweaty and gross you just might get. Not pleasant, is it? Now picture doing that with the durable and very rough camera strap around your neck. Still not sounding good is it?

Now I want you to think about all the gross sweat that will accumulate on that. Still not pleasant is it? 

One of the reasons I think camera straps are soooo important is that you can take them off and wash them. My actual Canon camera strap has rubbed the back of my neck and made it red and raw. That’s just not an option for me when I am out shooting. If I am more comfortable when I shoot, I shoot better. Plain and simple.  Swanky Stitch  has a great selection and they are very affordable (starting at $25)! I recommend them to everyone who asks about camera strap covers.

Rain Sleeve:
If you plan to shoot out in the rain or think you might get caught in the rain, keep a rainsleeve in your camera bag. You will thank me for this, I promise! Keeping your gear dry and making sure nothing happens to the camera or the lens is always a priority! (They aren’t cheap, after all!). Investing in a $6.50 rainsleeve is worth saving you camera, your lenses and your peace of mind!

So, there you have it…my gear must-haves. Obviously depending on where you live and what subjects you shoot and whether you do this as a hobby or as a pro, you might add or take away a few of the items. This is just meant to be a guide to point you in the right direction. I was not compensated or asked to endorse any of the products….but I do because I believe that you should have them!

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please let me know!

May Photographer Spotlight {Inspiration}

I had this wonderful (I thought!) idea to every month pick a photographer that I love, ask them questions and spotlight their work. I asked a few photographers if they would be interested and am so excited that they said “Yes”. (I already have my photographers lined up for the next 3 months! Yay!)

One of the most wonderful things about being a photographer is meeting people. I have met some amazing people who are clients and some amazing people who are fellow photographers. I feel very honored to be in the company of some of these photographers.

For May, the photographer I am going to spotlight is very special to me. (She is almost like a daughter to me, in fact, I actually call her my daughter! lol). She is a 17 year old from Utah and she will blow you away with her wonderful photography. (And yes, you read that right, she is 17 and she is super amazing!). She is a natural talent and she has a great eye. She is still evolving and finding her way in the photography world, but I have no doubt that we all will be seeing some pretty great things from her. So without further delay, here is my May Photographer…..

Rachel Shearer

First of all, a little bit about Rachel….

My name is Rachel Shearer–aspiring photographer and hopeful teenager! My dream is, of course, to become a fabulous photographer, but more than that, I want to be a truly good person. I don’t want to step on everyone to get to the top, I want to be the stepping stone for those that are hurting. Sometimes the only thing that can keep me going when I want to stay in bed and cry is the thought that I might be able to help someone else because of the experience I had. I want to be someone people know they can go to for help, I want to be as Christlike as humanly possible! 

I took a photography class because I thought it sounded like fun, and had no idea what it would lead to! About a year ago (May) was when I realized how much I really loved it, and started working to become a photographer. I’m mostly self-taught with DSLR’s and PhotoShop. I’m definitely still learning–and have a long way to go, but I’ve also come a long way! I’ve learned how to make actions (right now only for CS) and sell them for low prices in my shop! I mostly post on my Facebook page, but I’m starting to blog a lot more–and of course I’m on pinterest! Amazing site for inspiration 🙂

Now for some fun questions. Let’s get to know her a little more!

1. Use one sentence to describe your style of photography.

My style is still kind of being developed, I’m not really sure how to describe it–but I love a mix of vintage and modern!

2. When did you realize you wanted to be a photographer?

About a year ago… I used to want to be a lawyer, then towards the end of a beginning photography class, I realized that it was what I truly loved!

3. Where do you find your inspiration?

I find inspiration through most everything–fashion, magazines, colors, movies, music, books, just anything around me!

4. What was the best photography advice anyone gave you?

Being told that with my passion no one could keep me from succeeding. I’ve had more than one person tell me I shouldn’t major in photography–because it isn’t a viable life choice. But because of people, like you Lori, that keep pushing me by telling me I’ve got talent, I refuse to give up!

5. Describe yourself (not your photography) in 3 words.

Loving, Passionate, Steadfast

6. If you could only take one single photograph to signify your life, what would it look like?

It would be one of the really busy photographs–lots of props, but with the model the main focus. I would have a model surrounded by things I love–cameras and things that signify who I am and what I love. It would be a mixture of vintage and modern, color, in style and my style–just something to display who I am.

7. Do you ever shoot self-portraits? 

Not really, I find it kind of difficult with a DSLR. Plus, I’m really self conscious so I’m super harsh when taking my own photo.

8. What has been the biggest challenge you have had while following your dream of being a photographer? What has been the greatest reward of following your dream of being a photographer?
I think the biggest challenge has just been trying to fight off the naysayers. There’s always going to be that one person who says I can’t make a living off of photography, that I’m not that good, and a lot of other things that have been not nice. There are going to be professional photographers telling me I shouldn’t be presenting myself the way I am because I’m just a teenager. There are going to be people trying to belittle me every which way. It’s been challenging to deal with them with class–I have most definitely wanted to fight back, but I choose not to because I don’t like fights. I won’t avoid problems, but I will avoid a fight if at all possible. 

Without a doubt, the greatest reward from photography for me, has been the boost it’s given me. It’s boosted my self confidence, my happiness, even my social skills! Because of photography I’ve made amazing friends, reconnected with old friends, and even learned who wasn’t a friend. Photography has helped shape my life!

9. When you are feeling uninspired what do you do to spark your creativity?

I step back, and don’t think about looking for inspiration. I take a break and just do other things, and before long I’m hit with an idea for a shoot!

10. If you were going to travel for a year and could only pack what would fit into 1 average sized backpack, what would you pack? (Food you will be getting along the way, so you don’t need to account for that!)

A few changes of clothes (sealed with those super sealer things that suck all the air out so that take up barely any space. My camera, a laptop, soap and other basic hygiene products, my cell phone of course! My memory foam pillow (also sealed in a magic bag), my wallet (with all it’s contents), annnd that’s probably all I can fit.

11. Are there any movies or books that have inspired your photography? If so, which ones?

Oh there are just so so many! I literally can’t even list them. I’m a total movie geek, I love books, and I’ve taken a little inspiration from nearly every single one!

12. If you could photograph one person, who would it be and why?

I would die if I could photograph Taylor Swift! She’s gorgeous, completely photogenic, I love the styling of all of her shoots, and she’s such an inspiring person. I just love her!

13. Have there been moments when you felt you should throw in the towel and find a new career? If so, what did you do to get yourself out of that place?

Honestly, no. In fact, I keep thinking that if photography doesn’t work out for me, I’m screwed, because photography is all I can think of doing!

14. If you were given $1000 would you spend it on photography equipment or going to a photography workshop? Why?

I would LOVE to attend a workshop, but I think I would get equipment. I don’t have the best equipment–used camera and lens, and that’s all I have as far as actual equipment. I love my camera, but I definitely need some newer stuff!

15. If you could pass along any advice to new photographers what would it be?
Don’t charge until you’re sure you’re ready. Taking portraits as a career is so much different than taking them of your friends. Sometimes people go into it before they know their camera or even what they’re getting into, and are far too overwhelmed! It’s best to be ready so that you won’t want to give up, then jump right into the thick of it all

If you want to check out Rachel’s work or stop by her FB page and say “Hi”, here are the links to her pages again! She has some beautiful images, so be sure to check her out!