5 PHOTOGRAPHY QUESTIONS I HAD STARTING OUT
Before I jump into this blog post I want to give a little background on my photography journey up until this point. I started taking interest in photography after my parents bought me my first DSLR camera for my fourteenth or fifteenth birthday (I can’t remember). I loved it, and I took the most embarrassing photos (one pictured below) and thought they were so cool! Lol. How did I ever have friends!? Someone should have told me putting sprinkles on my eye was a little strange (although I probably wouldn't have cared if they did).
Anyways, I kept taking photos with my little canon rebel XTI for fun up until Jesse and I got engaged. I remember during our engagement photos I kept looking at the camera and lens my photographer was using and wondering why it looked so much different than my own. After we got our photos back I was so excited because I loved them, but I wondered how she did our whole engagement session without using the pop up flash like I always did with my Canon rebel. lol. Writing this blog post is making me realize just how much I’ve learned in the past few years.
Fast-forward to a few months before Jesse and I got married and I was super interested in learning how to shoot photos in manual and edit them in a way that fit my style. It seemed like it took me SO long to figure out aperture, ISO, and shutter speed; but I started to (sort of) figure it out leading up to when Jesse and I were getting married (almost 2 years ago). I was so hooked on reading and learning all about photography by that point.
After Jesse and I’s wedding we went to Hawaii to celebrate our honeymoon and I remember telling him I wanted to pursue photography in a way that was more than just a hobby. He was a little taken back, but still super supportive.
I knew I wouldn’t have much money to invest in my “business” considering I was still in college and we were living off Jesse’s ministry income. I had no idea how to get started, what gear to buy, what editing software to use, or much of anything. So, I did what any millennial would do and started googling… a lot. I want to share with you five of the biggest questions I had going from shooting on auto and editing in iPhoto to what I use now.
1. HOW CAN I LEARN TO SHOOT IN MANUAL?
I never once bought an online course to learn how to shoot in manual. One of the biggest free resources was joining a group on Facebook called “Digital Photography School”. They always have random articles that are so helpful for newbie photographers. I also learned so much from reading the book The Luminous Portrait by Elizabeth Messina. She is a film photographer, but in her book, she shows you different photos and what her ISO, aperture, and shutter speed are on all of them. Those two things were the biggest help for me learning the most basic settings on my camera. After that, the easiest way to grow in something is by trial and error plus TONS of practice.
I remember when I finally understood my camera settings a little better and wanted to take photos of anything and everything. Here are a few random photos I took in our first apartment. I was genuinely so excited with how they turned out because I could finally get something in the foreground in focus and the background a little blurry (what I now know is called bokeh). Baby steps!
2. WHAT EQUIPMENT SHOULD I BUY WHEN I'M FIRST STARTING OUT?
This was the toughest decision ever. I didn’t have much money to spend on equipment at all and knew I had to be wise with what I picked. After researching myself I decided I could not afford a new camera body, but I could get a new lens. So, my first purchase was the Canon 50mm 1.8 aka the “nifty-fifty.” Looking back, I think this was a great first purchase. It’s a quality lens with an affordable price tag. I kept shooting with my lens for a few months and knew if I wanted to have the quality of photos I desired I needed to invest in a new body and another quality lens. I know people always say equipment doesn’t make a difference and it’s all about the photographer, that is true to a degree, but the type of camera body and especially the lenses you have make a big difference in what your photos look like. So, I was in a dilemma and had no idea how I would afford new equipment so I just kept working with what I had. Long story short, God seriously provided me with the means to invest in equipment. I know to some of you that may sound weird, but it’s completely true. My photography kit grew and I added a Canon 5D Mark III to my collection along with a Sigma 35mm 1.4 lens. I also think these were great purchases because the 35mm gave me the option to shoot wide, but I could also come up close if I needed to. So, if you’re just starting out, I would recommend a 35mm or a 50mm as your first purchase. As far as camera bodies, I would always do your research on a quality body and then buy it used! You save so much money that way.
3. WHAT EDITING SOFTWARE SHOULD I USE?
I will answer this questions short and sweet- you should get Lightroom! I thought I had to use Photoshop because that’s all I had ever heard of. I currently own Lightroom and Photoshop and never touch Photoshop at all. Lightroom is the best. I have the Adobe creative cloud photography subscription I bought online and it’s $10 a month for the newest version of Lightroom and Photoshop.
4. SHOULD I SHOOT IN RAW OR JPEG?
Some of you reading this may not even know what RAW photos are, or at least I didn’t when I googled this question 2.5 years ago. I just kept seeing on photography sites where they used the term and I was curious what it meant. Now, I always, ALWAYS shoot my photos on RAW. There are so many benefits to doing this, but it basically saves SO much information for each photo and makes editing photos way more versatile. When you shoot in JPEG it gets rid of SO much information. The only downside to RAW photos starting out was that I had to export and make them JPEGs myself and I had no idea how to do that. Which leads me to the next question I had.
5. WHAT SETTINGS SHOULD I EXPORT MY PHOTOS ON IN LIGHTROOM?
Once you begin shooting in RAW, you will need to customize the size of your photo. I’ll put screen shots of what I put my settings on below. There are times I burn full size JPEGS if a bride is ordering a big print or canvas of a photo.
I know this is super simple, but I just want to put it out there in case anyone has any questions like I once did. Once you are finished editing your photos in lightroom to export them you just click Command+Shift+E and then the window below pops up. You can type in your information the same as I did to save them as JPEGS and then you just click ‘export’ and you’re done! I always back up my RAW photos on an external hard drive as well as my edited ones so they don’t waste space on my computer’s hard drive.
Those are a handful of the top questions I had starting out! I hope I can help someone reading this and save you from google searching all over for answers. My photography has grown so much over the past couple years (below is a picture from a portrait a little over 2 years ago v.s. now) I almost don't even want to show the first one, but we all have to start somewhere! I can't wait to continue to learn, grow, and share along the way!
Happy Thursday! :)