My Photog Must-Haves

January 19, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

When I got into photography, my mentoring brother warned me it could be a very expensive hobby. I never thought I would be the one to buy up the latest-and-greatest gadgets, and for the most part, I have avoided that sort of thing. When I've wanted or needed anything, I do my research and try to stay on a budget while getting things that help me in the long run.

Of all my purchases over the last 3 years, here is a list of the top 10 things that are still my everyday must-haves:

1. Canon 6D body

I initially chose this full frame camera for its GPS and wifi capabilities. GPS benefits me when I'm out shooting barns on lost country roads and can later reference exactly where it was located (in case I want to revisit it). The wifi comes in handy to use my phone as a wireless shutter release and have the ability to download the images directly to my phone without ever having to remove the memory card or put them on my computer first. The 6D also has a lot of the same great features of a 5D Mark III without the added cost. 

2. Canon 50mm f/1.4 prime lens

I cannot tell you how much I use this lens! Although there are pricier options out there (such as the 50mm f/1.2L), this lens comes in at $1000 less and is still capable of producing a nice buttery blurred background. Its standard focal length makes it great for every day use without distorting proportions. 

3. Canon 600EX-RT speedlite with ST-E3-RT wireless transmitter

I'll be honest, when I bought this, I way over-bought for my experience level at the time, but it has turned out to be the best investment! I liked this speedlite so much, I bought 2! What I love about this strobe is it packs a lot of punch in a sturdy, well-built piece of equipment that won't break down in 6 months. Besides being so powerful, the wireless transmitter allows me unlimited off-camera options, which has drastically improved my portraits.

4. Gary Fong Lightsphere

This has got to be the hokiest-looking contraption I've ever seen but I use it on almost every outdoor shoot because IT WORKS! When I need a little fill flash and don't want harsh shadows on my subject, this light diffuser is amazing! I can point my on-camera flash directly at my subject and all I see is soft, diffused, natural-looking light. I will often bounce my flash where ceilings permit, but this also helps diffuse the light a little bit more.

5. Lowepro Fastpack 200

I love this camera bag! It fits a ton of gear essentials and is comfortable enough to wear all day without hurting my back. I can easily fit my camera (with lens attached), 1 or 2 speedlites, Lightsphere, 1-3 extra lenses, my MacBook Pro and/or iPad, and lots of accessories. There are much newer versions of this bag available now, but this was and still is great 3 years later! 

6. Profoto D1 500/500 studio lighting kit with Air Remote

I purchased these lights when I was getting into school photography. I needed dependable studio lights that I could take on location that would not fail me. With hundreds of photos being taken in a controlled environment in a short amount of time, I needed consistency and quality. I also love that these lights are super powerful! I use green screen a lot, so an evenly lit background is essential and this lighting kit has done a perfect job every time!

7. 15-inch MacBook Pro with 27-inch Thunderbolt Display

I used to work on an Asus Zenbook Prime which was fine for a small family photoshoot, but when I started looking into school photography, there just wasn't enough speed, space, or dependability. I was also tired of Windows and the ridiculous amount of updates and slow restarts. I understand I could have purchased a much more expensive Windows set up with better speed, storage, etc. but for me, it was time to make the switch to a Mac. I was so glad I did and I have never looked back. Although the MacBook Pro was a great transition, there wasn't enough "real estate" for my workflow, so adding the 27-inch monitor was perfect for my dual display! Now I can toggle between Lightroom and Photoshop on the large screen while keeping my Safari and other apps open on my laptop. 

8. Wacom Intuos Pro Medium Tablet 

This item alone had been LIFE-CHANGING for my workflow! I could NOT do my post processing without it! The learning curve was a little steep at first, but once I got acclimated to it, there was no more using my track pad! The buttons on the tablet are fully customizable but I still use this in conjunction to my keyboard for the additional shortcuts. Together they are the perfect pair to help me speed through edits. 

9. Google Drive

External storage is mandatory for any photographer rapidly eating a hole through hard drive space on a laptop. I still have and use an external Seagate 1TB backup through my home network for many of my family shoots. But, for larger files such as school pictures or weddings, upload times can be slow over wifi and there's always the fear that if (God forbid) there was a fire, there's not much that can be done. Google Drive offers 1TB of cloud storage for $10/mo with great sharing capabilities and for much less than other popular cloud services out there.

10. Zenfolio and Miller's

Before I discovered Zenfolio, I was using another web hosting service that didn't quite have the shopping cart experience I was looking for. I have been a long-standing customer of MpixPro and Miller's Pro Labs so when I found out I could have my clients order directly through my site and have orders fulfilled by Miller's, I was very excited! The most important part for me was Miller's school capabilities. Not only can students order their photos online, but I can also place my group orders through their ROES system and they do all the picture sorting and envelope stuffing for me for FREE!! Miller's and Zenfolio have been excellent to work with. Their customer service is unmatched.


So there you have my personal Top 10! Tell me what has changed YOUR workflow and what you've learned you can live without.





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