So You Want to Buy a Camera? Some Advice from the Photographer
Buying a camera can be a daunting decision, but many have asked me what to look for in a camera, and beyond that, how to take pictures. In this blog, I'm going to attempt to give some recommendations for camera gear, insight on taking good photos, and how to use all of this for a photo date.
First, let's talk about why you're doing this. You're taking photos for you. Photography is a beautiful hobby, and self-fulfilling, so don't buy a camera to show off, or 'get the girl', even though this can help. Thinking of the world in a sense of photography increases your awareness of beauty in everything you see. Instilling the world into photographs can tell a story to your social media following about who you are, what you appreciate, and beyond this - just a beautiful photo.
It's easy to get wrapped up in the desire to get the best equipment possible. To a certain extent yes, gear makes a better photograph - but, the framing of the photo and the edits can do far more than your gear is able to if you don't know how to use it. More on that later, but for now let's talk about your budget. For a professional camera, you'll be buying a camera 'body', and camera 'lenses' that are separate from the body. If you can find a pack that includes both, great, but sometimes it's best to just purchase the body and then the lenses that are designed for what you want to take photos of. I'm a Canon shooter, and while there are other wonderful brands, my experience is with Canon. For around 250-400 you can pick up a Canon in the Rebel series. This will be a T3i, T4i, T5, T6 - depending on the deal you find. For $800-1200, you can pick up a 6D, which is an entry 'full-frame'camera, which has a better sensor, and will more accurately depict what you shoot.
This is by far the most important purchase - much more than that of a camera. If you generally want to take photos of people, pick up what they call the 'nifty-fifty'. It's a Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens, and it's less than $150. It's not incredibly zoomed, and it's not a wide angle, but it's perfect for portraits. You can get a nice blurry background for some headshots, or take some closer up nature photos. The nicer photos you take, the better your Instagram will look, and the more value you'll provide to prospective dates. For a wider lens, Rokinon makes a 14mm lens that is incredibly wide, and will make landscape photography extremely simple. It's all manual, so it might take a bit to get used to, but this is a must for street + travel photography. You can pick it up online for around $300. Further on with some additional portrait lenses, an 85mm f/1.8 is around $300.
My gear: Canon 5d mark iii, Canon 6d, 24mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.2.
This is where it gets a bit more difficult. Editing software is where you can really win with your photos. Adobe Lightroom (what I edit everything for The Match Artist on), is a very easy to use version of photoshop. You can add presets to your photos, or completely adjust them yourself. Whether it's touching up skin, or brightening up the landscape, it's a great piece of software that can either be purchased straight from Adobe, or you can get access to unlimited updates by paying $9.99 a month. Adobe has made it very accessible for anyone to get into photography. Gone are the days of purchasing software for prices not affordable for the average consumer.
Taking Interesting Photos
I want you to start thinking of everything you see as a potential photo. This is how I think most of the time, whether I see people, objects, or nature. Think of how you would capture a photo to tell a story in one, two, five images, etc. Photos are so meaningful, and our subconscious picks them a part whether we know it's happening or not. This is the entire premise of our business: the subconscious feels a certain way about a photo of you far before a decision is actually made. In the same way that I coach facial expressions, you can think of general photography in the same way. Photography is about telling a story, conveying a message, and getting inside the head of your viewer. Think about how your eye moves through a photo the next time you see something you like. Usually, meaningful points in a photo will be broken up into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. This is how science has told us our brains scan things. If you're able to place interesting objects on one of those thirds, your photo will automatically become more attractive to the viewer. This is why photos of landscapes aren't generally centered down the middle, and usually have a top or bottom third. When I'm taking close up portraits, I try to think of having the prominent point of interest (the eyes), on a third line, because I want my viewer to immediatley lock eyes and connect with the person on the deepest level possible. This is just another example of how you can engineer a photo to affect someone's mood or interest level.
Social Media Organization
Alright, so you have your gear, you're taking and editing photos, but what do you do now? It's time to publish them on an online platform to garner interest from the individuals of the internet. If you don't have an Instagram, it's time to get one. Asking someone for their instagram handle is almost as common, if not more, than asking for a phone number these days. Instead of a phone number, another individual that get's your handle can do a quick stalk to see more photos of you, if they enjoy your photos, and your hobbies. Having interesting instagram photos is enough of a reason to shoot with us, but beyond this, you can show off your own photography skills. If you've shot with us, you can layer some of your photos with photos we've taken of you.
So now that you're a camera pro, it's time to use that on a potential date. If you're a date is a photographer, wonderful, if not - you'll say you want to go out and shoot some photos. This could be out on a hike, some street photography, or at a concert downtown. Structure it around something you both love to do, but make sure you bring your camera, and certainly take photos of your date if they want you to. Having a camera around can make you far more interesting than you otherwise were, especially if you take great photos!
Taking interesting photos is valuable for many different reasons. It's an enjoyable hobby, a date prop, and a way to layer your social media pages. If you have the means, certainly consider purchasing a camera and start shooting.