For Photographers

To all of my fellow photographers-HELLO!

Including a photographer section was extremely important to me because I am thankful that so many others have been generous enough to share their knowledge. By no means do I think I know it all, or even the tip of the iceberg, but I hope that you might find some tid bits of usefulness here!

There are certain sections of my “photography idols” blogs’ that I always seek out and read first, and certain things I wish they would make easier to find. Below is a summary of the key items I always look for right away on other blogs.

For more in-depth information on shooting techniques, post processing, the business side of things and much more check out the Photographers section of my blog.

What’s in my bag:

Canon! I started shooting with Nikon and noticed that ALL of my “photography idols” use Canon. So, I decided to make the switch. It’s a total PITA to switch once you have bought your camera, lenses, flashes and batteries. So, I highly recommend thinking very hard before you buy your first camera.

My Gear

Canon 5D (back-up)

Canon 5D Mark II

Canon 35mm 1.4

Canon 50mm 1.4

Canon 100mm 2.8 Macro

Canon 70-200 IS 2.8

Canon 430x Flash

Canon 580ex Flash

Pocket Wizards

What kind of camera do you recommend for someone just starting out?

You are not asking the right question here. The right question would be what kind of lens do you recommend for someone just starting out? Good lenses make all of the difference. Yes, a camera is important, but a good lens will take you ten times further then a good camera. If you are just starting out don’t buy a camera and “kit lens”. Buy just the camera and then get a lens like a 50mm 1.8. For Nikon this lens runs about $135 and will beat the pants off any kit lens…even those 18-200 VRs 3.5/4.0. It’s aperture that counts here people.

Why a blogsite and who designed it?

I used to have a blog and a website. What I found is that it was a lot of working keeping both of these updated. What would happen is that I would only update my website about once every 6 months and usually only to update my pricing. Since all of my newer stuff was on the blog I was then directing more clients to my blog then to my website. The blog was easier to maintain since I was blogging on a regular basis it was naturally updated. The website was more complicated and I was struggling to decide if I should invest a lot of money to have someone design it or learn CSS on my own. The one class I got a C in in college was computer programming, so I figured that learning CSS code was pretty much out of the question. I dumped the website and went to a blogsite. The blog is designed by me using this nifty little plugin for a WordPress blog and us this PROMO CODE to get $10 off the price: SDEI2866!!

How did you start shooting weddings?

I could probably devote an entire blog to this topic, but here is the short answer. Once I decided I wanted to pursue photography I made several key decisions:

1. Become a sponge: Learn all that you can know about your camera and how all of the settings work. I bought 3 photography books before I even bought my first dSLR. I blog stalked every photographer that I could find that posted FAQs and tips for other photographers. I Googled every photography question that I could think of and then read every response. I also joined this photography forum.

2. Persistence: I e-mailed every photographer that I could find an e-mail address for and asked if they needed a second shooter or assistant or someone to fan them as they worked. I was willing to do anything and willing to do it for free. I’m not saying that everyone should work for free, I’m just saying how I started. I did eventually find several photographers who paid me to second shoot.

3. Start shooting and start blogging: After I had a little practice I started advertising free portrait sessions and even free weddings on Craig’s List. I was totally up-front with people and explained that I had little to no experience. You wouldn’t believe how many people were willing to take a chance on me…it still boggles my mind. I didn’t say yes to every reply though. I tried my best to find good candidates that would help me build my portfolio. Some photographers think they are above Craig’s List, but I’m not. I am thankful for the exposure and opportunity that it provided when I was was just starting out. I no longer advertise there, but it was instrumental to my first year of business. I also started a blog right away and posted pictures on a regular basis.

4. Go the extra mile: By far the number 1 reason why I am shooting weddings and have a successful photography business is because I am willing to go the extra mile. For example: When I started my blog on Blogger I figured out how to post bigger pictures then just the normal little dinky pictures-bigger pictures just look more professional IMO. Follow-up with vendors-I always send the reception coordinator a link to the couples engagement session on my blog. This helps to establish a relationship with this vendor. I follow-up with sending more pictures and links from the wedding within 1-2 weeks of the wedding. For vendors that I really want to work with I send prints and sample albums along with several of my business cards.

Do you need a second shooter?

From time to time I do find myself in need of a second shooter. If you are interested send me an e-mail and I will keep your info on hand. I apologizes in advance if I don’t reply or if I am unable to use you at an event, but remember…persistence is key so don’t just e-mail me, e-mail LOTS of other photographers too!

Who are these “photography idols” that you talk about?

Jasmine Star-“Holla!” Read her blog and that will make a lot more sense. She blogs almost everyday and answers FAQs about photography.

Jessica Claire-The creative force behind Shootsac.

Zack Aris-One Light DVD. A must have to learn off-camera flash

Think Splendid-Social Media Consultant for the Wedding Industry…GREAT business info!

If you are like me, the answer to these questions are just the beginning and have sent your mind into overdrive with more questions. If there is something that you are just dying to know, feel free to send me an e-mail and/or check out the Photographers section of this blog.

bethany hi my name is bethany! i am a new photographer just starting out. i have had my camera (canon 50d, 50mm f1.4, 17-40mm f5.6) since july 2010. i just wanted to thank you for being so amazing in offering your suggestions and information to other photographers. i feel that people like you are hard to come by! i really envy you for that! i wanted to thank you as well since i haven’t taken any classes and are just learning by reading tutorials and other photography discussion boards and blogs. :) i wanted to know what time of day you think is the best for an outdoor family photo shoot in AZ during the fall/winter months. i still don’t feel that i have mastered my lighting quite yet. i am doing a few shoots in the next few months to build my portfolio so i can finally get my website up! i am currently living in AZ, but am moving my family and my business to MN in april 2011. look forward to hearing back from you! and thank you again! you are an inspiration!


Suzanne Melissa Hi Bethany! Thank you so much for your comment…it’s GREAT to get some feedback from other photographers!! The best time for pictures is about an hour before sunset or an hour after sunrise. The is usually called the “golden hour”. When I am scheduling sessions I always check the sunset time for the exact day of the shoot. Here is a link to a website that will give you that info: I’ll be posting tips regularly, so be sure to come back for more tips! Good luck with the move and send me a link when your website is up (until then…get a blog going!!).

Gabrielle I started my own photography business this year and have recently invested in a prophoto blog and branding/logo by Melissa Starr. I haven’t put the word out yet or published my facebook page because I want my logo completed first…(part of my OCD-ism)
I was skeptical about Craigslist, but I think I will try it after reading your post.
I have done 1, 2, of your suggestions/tips & will now work on #3.
I guess my question is, how long did you advertise on Craigslist ?

Suzanne Melissa Hi Gabrielle!
First, thank you for your comment. Blog love is always appreciated:-) I think I advertised on Craig’s List off and on for about 3-4 months. This allowed me to book a few weddings in both the spring and fall of my first year in business. From there I networked like crazy with the venues that I shot at and this helped me book more weddings. You’re on the right track it!!

Tabitha Hi Suzanne,
You are so awesome!! I love that you offer this page to help others. Many other photographers don’t and I think they are more scared than anything. I just started this year and still am learning. I feel I have came along way and still am working to get better!!

I just wanted to take the time and say thanks for all the information it helps and you are an inspiration to many of us out there!!

Bianca Bruce Hey there,

I came across your website by accident by I love your galleries and the work that you do. It really is beautiful. As I have been reading a lot of your blog information a lot of the things you have written about have been very informational. I do want to progress my photography, and would love if you have a free moment to take a look at my website and give your opinion. I am originally from AZ and have spent the last 6 years in Cali…if you ever need help or an intern or an apprentice please keep me in mind!! Thank you for your time.


Tricia Lacy Melissa,

I found your site going through photography company websites. I found what your writing to the point and home. You mentioned you “find yourself” occasionally needing a “second shooter” we all sound like hired guns in todays society don’t we.

I would very much like to second shoot for you. I own a Canon 7D 2 Canon and a Sigma lens, I also still have my EVolt 500 Olympus I bought a few years ago both cameras have off camera flash. The Canon is what I shoot with mostly now I have a Speedlite I got January 2012 right after the 7D. You can reach me at my email. I used or have shot weddings I did it for nothing for friends or family years back. I didn’t keep any of the pictures or negatives they were not mine, I was not into photography as much then as in the last two or three years.

Please contact me when possible. Thank you for your information and writing. Tricia

noelia hello, so glad to know that there is someone to help… quick question.. i love doing make up and hair … mostly pinup style.. i just got a 350 camera. fuji.. and i have had alot of people ask me to do pics for them..i just started and i would like to do a website… any suggestions on how i can do that? the only way i can get people to tell there friends is by fb i called it nolis pink vixen… my main question is what is a good website to develop pics

Tricia Lacy Dear Suznne,

I read your pages, and I thought I was crazy, your up there with me. Apart from that, I’ve been photographing for along time, just recently semi-professionally. I would love to second shoot with you if you ever are in need of someone in the future. I’m OCD about alot of things too, many people are, except my husband.

I was married to a guy who ran a wholesale office supply company in Phoenix for 10 years, I loved to go in there and roam the 100,000 sq. ft warehouse and find stuff to buy at our discount.
I am dangerous in Staples, Office Max and other places with supplies.

I shoot with a Canon 7D, I have three lenses and a 430 Speedlight. I’ve done portraiture, model family and weddings and I love shooting weddings, it’s the romanace, the beauty, seeing how different each is and how different each wedding couple and their family and friends are. It’s fun, tiring alot of work but I enjoy it.

Would love to meet you sometime, you seem like a really nice person and very genuine.

My number is 623-521-9267 email

Caro Intellgniece and simplicity – easy to understand how you think.

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