Photography Inspiration Part 1: Equipment

Its time to start my 2016 blog series on Photography Inspiration! This series will be all about inspiring novice photographers to take their hobby up to the next level. Not everyone will want to be a professional photographer, but I know so many of you would be thrilled to get better pictures of your kids, your pets, your vacation, or whatever it is that inspires you! As I mentioned in my last post, I am so excited to share my new-found love for photography with others.  My photography has improved so much this year and I believe that anyone with a passion for photography can experience the same success with the right guidance!   In 2016 I am going to offer some of that guidance in two ways. First, I will be offering customized one-on-one photography mentoring sessions. Second, for those who aren’t quite ready for that step yet, I will be offering weekly(ish) blog posts with tips for improving your photography. If you have any questions you’d like to see featured on the blog send them to marisa@marisamcdonaldphotogrpahy.com.

I am going to start my series in a somewhat non-traditional way. Most people will tell you that there is no point in upgrading your equipment if you don’t know how to use your camera. This is true to a certain extent. But I also believe that there is no point in trying tirelessly to improve your photography with equipment that will never inspire you to keep trying. Its kind of a catch 22: If you don’t improve your photography, you will never buy new equipment and if you don’t buy new equipment you will never (significantly) improve your photography.

But here’s the thing… this equipment upgrade / photography inspiration doesn’t have to be a huge investment to make an impact! Professional photographers spend many many thousands of dollars on upgraded camera bodies, lenses, lights, etc. You don’t need to do that to get started. In my opinion, all you need is a little thing we call the “nifty fifty.” After all of the money you’ve spent on your DSLR, this is a small additional investment that is going to yield big results!

What is the Nifty Fifty?

All major camera brands carry this lens. It is a 50 mm 1.8 prime lens. Being a ” 50 mm prime” lens means it has a fixed focal length of 50 mm and it does not zoom. You might think this is a disadvantage but prime lenses typically get much sharper images for the price than a typical zoom lens would. “1.8” refers to the maximum aperture of the lens. This is where the magic happens! If you have only ever taken pictures with the kit lens that came with your camera, you are going to be blown away by this feature! This is what is going to give you that lovely bokeh (blurred background) and it will also allow you to shoot in much lower light than you’re used to (read: amazing non-flash indoor pictures of the kids are now attainable!). You are going to be kicking yourself for not buying this lens years ago.

Remember when you first got your DSLR camera? You were blown away! You thought “Wow, I spent all this money on this really nice camera and it is so amazing. I can take pictures so fast and they are so clear. I can capture all those little moments that I was missing with my phone or with my point and shoot.”  As time went on maybe you tried to learn a little bit about your camera to take it up to the next level and you started realizing that something was missing. This is what’s missing. This is that next step that is going to amaze you and inspire you to continue your photography journey! And guess what?!

It only costs about $100!!

Could you buy a nicer lens? Yes! And if you want recommendations, feel free to message me! But if you don’t want to spend a lot of money, this one is a no brainer!  After 6 years of being a “mom with a camera” I was fortunate enough to get this advice from a professional photographer. It was only the beginning in a series of lenses I will buy over the years but it was just the inspiration I needed to believe I could do it and try a little bit harder to realize my potential. I want to give you that opportunity too. I don’t want to hide the ball by telling you that it is all about learning your camera. It definitely is about learning your camera but without a nice lens, you may never see the results that will inspire you! Next week we’ll talk about how to get sharp focus where you want it! In the meantime here is an example of a portrait I took with my 50 mm 1.8 this Fall. Even though I have since bought several new lenses, this portrait is still one of my favorites!

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  • nikki m.

    I love this tip…and of course, this is my favorite one of your photos. LOVE LOVE LOVE.ReplyCancel

    • marisamcdonaldphotography

      Glad you love it Nikki! Do you have a kit lens only? You should totally get a nifty fifty! You would love it!ReplyCancel

  • Cindy

    Love that you have started a blog Marisa. I am having a problem reading it though… perhaps you could up the contrast a bit? This portrait is also one of my favorites. Did you style the little girl? Everything from her hair band to her belt is simply perfect. You are so talented.
    Thank you for my Christmas card… Beautiful!
    Bonne Année.
    CindyReplyCancel

    • marisamcdonaldphotography

      Thank you Cindy! You are the second person who has said this. I can read it fine on my computer but perhaps its harder on a phone or maybe it varies by screen. I am going to work on this! I definitely want everyone to be able to read it easily. As a temporary fix, I tried “bolding” everything. Let me know if that helps on your end! I cannot take credit for this beautiful girl’s outfit – that was all her mom! She did a fabulous job! Perhaps I should hire her to style some of my shoots. 😉ReplyCancel

  • […] started off our series on photography lessons with a post about equipment. I fully intended to follow up with a post on some really […]ReplyCancel

  • […] started off our series on photography lessons with a post about equipment. I fully intended to follow up with a post on some really […]ReplyCancel

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