My Photography Toolbox

The top question I get asked by friends and fellow photographers is "what kind of gear do you use?” or “what do you edit your photos with?” For that reason, I’ve put together this blog post outlining EVERYTHING I use for my photography business. 

First, lets start with my camera. I have always shot with Canon. They're the most user friendly and I like the coloring they provide. I began my photography journey on a Canon Rebel T3I. I think if you're just starting this is a great option because they're very affordable but a huge step above a point and shoot digital camera. I then upgraded from there to a Canon 80D. I loved this camera, and it does great with video. The only reason I upgraded from that is because it is a crop sensor. A crop sensor camera will crop the edges of your photo. So you can't get wide angles. For example, if you're using a 50mm lens, then it will be performing as a 85mm lens, or if you're using a 35mm lens, it will be performing as a 50mm lens. This worked out okay for me in portrait settings, but its frustrating for landscape shots. 

I now shoot with a Canon 6D, its a huge step up for me. Its a full frame sensor, so I feel like my travel photos are a lot better. It has more focal points and does a lot better in low light situations. It's not my dream camera, but its affordable and I think I'll have it for awhile! 


If you have a camera, you need to also have a lens. I have a 50mm, 35mm and 24-70mm lens. If I had to pick one, it would be my 35mm, but I find that my zoom lens (the 24-70mm lens) is on my camera 75% of the time. If you're wondering what type of lens to get yourself, consider what you'll be photographing the most. I like the 35 because I can get great portraits with it, but its more of a wide angle lens, and with that I can get better landscape shots. The zoom lens I have is nice, but with a zoom lens you are sacrificing quality. Prime lenses are significantly sharper than zoom lenses. That is due to the fact that they don't have extra glass inside that moves in order to zoom. As a result, you get a better quality photographs due to less diffraction, which increases with higher number of lens elements inside as in the case of zoom lenses. If you plan to only shoot portraits, a 50mm or a 85mm lens preforms amazingly! 

As far as photography goes, the actual shooting time is just part of it. My favorite thing is editing. Seriously, sometimes I'll leave a session feeling so defeated. Maybe the lighting wasn't ideal, maybe something else was off. But as soon as I get my photos onto my computer and edit them a little, its like a switch turns on and I'm in love with them! I edit my photos with Lightroom and Photoshop. I can do pretty much everything I need for a basic session in only Lightroom, but I actually first learned Photoshop so I'm just as comfortable with that. The two programs do some similar stuff, but are mostly experts in their own fields. If you're interested in getting these programs. I go through the Adobe Creative Cloud and have the Photography package which bundles the two together for just about $10 a month. 

This is a before and after of an image I edited in Lightroom. 

This is a before and after of an image I edited in Lightroom. 

Lightroom - Lightroom is great guessed it... light! In this program I can adjust how the shadows, highlights and colors look in the image. Plus a lot more. To edit, I love to use Heather Goodmans portrait presets. Ever since I got them, it made editing SO much easier. I love crisp, natural and warm they are. I found that they work on just about any of my photos. I only use these presets on my photos taken during golden hour, for my personal taste it looks better that way. For everything else, I just make my own minor adjustments. 

Photoshop - I don't know where to begin! Photoshop is a great program for modifying already created images or graphics, like photos. So for example, once I'm done adjusting the coloring and lighting for an image in Lightroom, I can then open the photo up in Photoshop and make a different type of adjustment, such as removing a piece of hair from someones face, smoothing out skin, adding sky overlays (I never do this) erasing a person standing in the background of a portrait. Seriously, there is no limit to what you can do in photoshop. 

Those programs might seem intimidating if you open them up and know nothing about them. Luckily, there are thousands and thousands of free tutorials on YouTube. I thought I knew everything there was to know about Lightroom, but I decided to watch a few tutorials on YouTube once and I learned a ton of new things! If you're ever trying out something new, I'm sure theres a tutorial about it somewhere! 

To deliver my photos to clients, I use something called Pixieset. I love the program for how ascetically pleasing the layout is and its super user friendly for my clients. You can try it out if you'd like, each account gets 3gb worth of space for free. Which is awesome, and if you sign up using this link then you get 250mb worth of storage. 

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I stay organized with the rest of my business using all the free tools that Google has to offer such as Docs, Sheets and the Calendar. I couldn't be organized without it! 

Hopefully this helps you out! Of course, if you have any questions, let me know in the comments! I'd love to help. 

Madison GeistComment