I’m no expert. I’m a self-taught amateur with a low-end DSLR camera, a few affordable accessories, very little time on my hands, and three young children running circles around me.
But for some reason, y’all seem to like the pictures I take, which thrills me to no end (seriously, I feel like a teenager getting asked to prom…). So after multiple recent questions about my photography, I thought I’d spill all my secrets.
Please forgive me if you showed up for a diy project or Rachel’s latest furniture arrangement… I promise I’ll be back to those antics soon enough! But given the fact that we are moving later this week, I thought now would be a great time to answer all those photography questions I’ve been getting. So today I want to answer the question,
“What’s in your camera bag?”
Now before I answer, I want to encourage you all: none of these items are top of the line. In fact, they are pretty much as basic as you can get. If you’ve never priced DSLRs, this equipment may seem extravagant, but if you have any camera background, you will realize that this is all very reasonable.
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So without further ado, my camera bag:
UPDATE (2018): you can read more about my current equipment here… but I still think the ones listed here are excellent options!
1. Canon EOS Rebel (just the body, not the “kit” with the lens)
I have the T1i, but the most recent version (the T6i) is pretty similar. My only complaint with the Rebel is that it is hard to “back up” enough to get a full room in the shot. A full frame camera (one that wasn’t artificially zoomed in to start) would be easier for photographing tight spaces. Otherwise, I’ve been super pleased with it. A money saving tip: my T1i is several models old, but it still works wonders. The newest models of Rebels are still affordable as far as DSLRs go, but if you’re looking to save even more money, take a look at the previous model (the T5i).
2. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 Lens
This is the quintessential portrait lens. On the Rebel, it is a wonderful view to capture your kids’ smiles and your loved one’s eyes.
It’s also pretty great for photographing food.
Or intricate details. It has very little distortion and is wonderfully crisp, in my opinion. Plus, the 1.8 aperture produces drool-worthy bokeh (aka blurry background).
But it is difficult to capture a room; it’s far too zoomed in… which brings me to:
3. Canon 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens
(Update: I have since learned that the lens above doesn’t work with the full frame cameras… If you think there is a chance you may upgrade your camera body some day, you may prefer this one.)
I love the versatility this lens provides. I’m not thrilled by the amount of distortion it produces when trying to “back up” to capture an entire room. You can see how it bends the image here (a straight-from-camera image – except the watermark, obviously):
But luckily, I have some editing tricks up my sleeve that I’ll be sharing soon. 😉 In the meantime, enjoy this image instead. See how the ceiling is now straight and the washing machine is less bubbled?
To be fair, our 1940 colonial is NOT an open floor plan, so I have to set the lens at 18mm most of the time to achieve a full room shot.
As you can see, it works. I don’t mind editing a bit of distortion (now that I know how – tutorial coming, I promise!), and the result is beautiful images of my home with just two lenses.
4. Tripod and Remote
This might be the single most important element of my photography. I started with this one, and I liked it very much until my son broke it (note to self: tripods are not made to be jungle gyms for four year olds). While it took a bit getting used to the new one (which was a gift), I’m really starting to love it. It’s very lightweight but sturdy enough for my camera. When using a tripod, it’s important to use a remote shutter release (or the timer) so that you don’t shake your camera when you hit the button.
Contrary to popular belief (seriously, you guys leave the nicest comments about my “light-filled” house!), my house does not actually get that much natural light. Sure, the light in a few rooms is awesome…
But the living room, for example, is all shuttered windows with shadows from trees and neighbor’s homes outside. When I go to photograph it, it’s so dark I almost can’t read the buttons on my camera. But you’d never know….
Because of my tripod. I promise a tutorial later on all this, but suffice it to say that tripods are important for interior photography.
5. Close-Up Filters
My sweet friend Samantha first suggested these to me, and they are a great alternative to buying more expensive lenses. They allow you to get closer shots, and at ~$10 for four, they are SO much more affordable than new lenses. As you might expect from the name, these filters are wonderful for close ups.
6. Filter Screen
This last one is a fairly recent purchase, recommended by my friend Sarah. It can function as a filter (helping smooth the light so it’s not so harsh) or reflector (providing more light when needed). I’ve only used it a few times, but I’m loving the results! I held up the screen between my son’s hand and the window when I took these photos to keep the glare off the watch face.
If you’re thinking, “I have all those things (or something better!), and my pictures still don’t look like that!”… Never fear.
I have tutorials coming that talk about how to use all this interior photography equipment AND how to edit your photographs to make them even better. Update: read the next installment in this series (Photography Tips: Staging and Composition) here.
My Favorite Lightroom Presets
Speaking of FREE, I have started sharing my best photography tips with some of my favorite readers, and it all starts off with my two favorite go-to custom Lightroom presets… and I’m giving them away for free!! If you aren’t already a Lightroom user, scroll down for all the details on this must-have photo editing software. And either way, sign up here to get your free presets!
So stay tuned, and feel free to ask any questions you might have. And again, thank you to all my readers and friends for their sweet encouragement. I hope you find this series helpful!
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