My Photography: Set-up & Tips

One of the things that I get asked about again and again is my photography. What camera and lenses do I use? Who takes my photos? How do I edit? How did I get into photography? I hesitated at calling myself a photographer for a long time. I’m self taught with absolutely zero formal training, I don’t have a full frame camera, I don’t even know all of the jargon. I’d look at others self-labeling themselves as photographers and think if they’re calling themselves a photographer, then so can I - but it took a while for me to actually label myself. I was a writer who enjoyed taking photos. Thinking about this now, I think its up to you what you label yourself as. If you enjoy doing something, make money out of it or have a talent, no body is going to stop you shouting from the rooftops that this is what you do. So here you have it, the answers to all of your questions about my photography and me as a photographer. If you have any other questions, pop them in a comment at the bottom and I’ll do my best to answer them.

What camera do I use?

Up until fairly recently, most of my photos were taken with my Canon 600D DSLR with a 50mm 1.8 lens. I’ve been using this camera and lens since 2014 with a slight upgrade in 2018 when I broke my lens and updated to the newer version. I still own and use this camera but purchased a secondary camera earlier this year. My Fujifilm X-T20 with a 35mm 2.0 lens has fast become my camera of choice. It’s smaller (meaning that it’s easier to pop in my bag and carry around) but the quality is incredible. It handles light really well, the colours are amazingly vibrant and now I’ve got to grips with the controls, I find it really easy to use on the go.

How do you decide which lens to use?

In some ways, the lens that you choose is more important than the camera itself. I haven’t once used the kit lens that came with my Canon camera because I don’t like the look of the photos it produces. I like to shoot with a high aperture because I love playing around with the focus of my shots. Lenses that only offer a deep depth of field result in photos that just feel flat to my eye. I love a blurry background or foreground in my shots. When choosing a lens, I always check how high the aperture goes and am more than happy with the 1.8 on my Canon and 2.0 on my Fuji.

The other important factor to consider when selecting a lens is your focal length. I usually shoot people and nature and like the look of 35-50mm as it is close to what you see with your eye. If I was shooting something like sports or wildlife, I would want a completely different lens than what I use. Note that the specified focal length of a lens is for a full frame camera. Both of my cameras have a cropped sensor (most digital cameras on the cheaper end of the scale will be the same) so this slightly skews the focal length of your lens. A 50mm lens on my Canon camera acts more like a 80mm, and a 35mm on my Fuji is more of a 50mm. This basically means I have to stand further back from my subject to get the shot I want.

Who takes my photos?

I take most of my photos myself. Anything without me in the frame, I took it. When it comes to photos of myself, I usually ask my boyfriend or occasionally a friend to help out. Sometimes Dave just snaps away and I’ll find a few shots that I like, other times I’m more specific and set up the camera exactly as I want it and give him very strict instructions on what to shoot. I have tried playing around with a tripod but find it hard to play with the focus remotely. My tripod and self-timer shots often feel too flat for what I like. Self portraits are definitely something I want to spend more time working on.

How do I edit my photos?

I almost always edit my photos on my phone, although I do have Lightroom CC on my desktop. I always edit in Lightroom, playing around with brightness, contrast, highlights and shadows. I sometimes increase the clarity of the image, mainly for nature close-ups. I’m very particular about how the colour green looks in my photos (it can sometimes look too bright and harsh) so I either play around with the tones on Lightroom or if it’s just a shot for Instagram, occasionally add a filter on VSCO.

How did I get into photography?

I’ve always enjoyed photography, and looking back I really wish I had chosen to study it at some point. I remember using my parents camera when I was little and subsequently them giving me my first camera when I was about 11. I really got into photography in my mid-twenties, when I was obsessed with fashion and photography blogs and Flickr. I saw all of these photos that I admired and wanted to recreate them myself. I bought my DSLR in 2014 and have been playing around ever since, teaching myself along the way.

Do I make money off my photography?

I’ve recently started working as a freelance photographer in the past couple of years, shooting everything from events to portraits and flowers. I’ve shot for florists, for bloggers and for small businesses. Going forward, I’d really love to do more photography for other people, especially florists.

Where do I find inspiration?

I find inspiration all around me. I look out of my window and see rolling hills and a garden wild with flowers. I spend time scrolling through Instagram and Pinterest and see work that stops me in my tracks and inspires me to pick up my camera. I save the images that inspire me on Pinterest boards and on my Instagram, to look back at when my inspiration ebbs.