**Co-written by Ben O.
My whole life I’ve been interested in photography, but was uninformed about what I needed and how I should start. On my recent trips I really wished that I had a good camera to get those next level shots. When I went to Scotland, I had a camera, but I didn’t know to to use it. Therefore it wasn’t worth carrying the camera everywhere with me. That being said, I did get some pretty good shots with my iPhone. I was able to capture some of the scenery and landmarks, but I’ve had enough of good shots, and I wanted to get GREAT shots!
I feel like there’s two methods to get into photograph. The first way is to do it on your own. This can be done by doing a LOT of research on how to use cameras and what the best equipment on the market.The second way is through first hand knowledge. You can talk to your photography friends and see what they use and what they think of the equipment you’re looking at. I lucked out with having a boyfriend that is into photography and loves to research the latest camera equipment. So I didn’t have to do too much of that myself.
Because I travel, carrying around a bunch of camera equipment can be difficult. I was concerned that carrying a camera body and multiple lenses with me would be too bulky and heavy. If you’re just going to a park or studio specifically for a photo shoot…Then you probably aren’t too worried about the weight or size of your gear. But when you’re walking 10 miles a day while touring Europe, hiking in Peru, etc…you’re going to want to minimize the weight and space of what you’re carrying.
I have a Sony Alpha 6300 with a Sigma Contemporary 30mm f1.4 for Sony e-mount lens. This lens is great because you can do close ups, portraits, and landscapes with this lens. It’s very versatile, however it is not a zoom lens. That means that you have to frame your shot yourself or zoom with your feet. This is great for beginners like me because it means I am paying more attention to what I’m taking a picture of. If I had a zoom lens to start, I might just zoom in to get my shot rather than physically getting closer to the subject. That being said, zoom is not bad, but getting closer generally results in a better quality photo. Also, prime lenses (fixed focal length) generally outperform their zoom counterparts.
The body has great autofocus for those who might not have an eye for manually focusing their shots. Honestly, I just use auto focus and then adjust if I want a different part of the shot in focus. My favorite part is that you can wirelessly transfer photos from your camera to your phone. This allows you to edit (see the editing section) and post immediately! That is super convenient for Instagram and Facebook (where your quality is degraded anyways when you post). I shoot my photos in a RAW format so they are kept at the maximum quality the camera can produce. Another recommendation is that you get an SD card reader to upload RAW photos to your tablet/computer/phone to keep maximum quality.
I need to get a camera backpack so that I can easily grab and store my camera but also use it as a day pack to store additional items. I have one picked out so I’ll have to do a review post about it once I test it out! I also want to get another lens. My 30mm is great for almost everything but I want a telephoto lens. There are instances that I might not be able to get close to my subject and still want high quality photos. The lens that I am going to get is the Sony E-mount 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 OSS lens. This lens will be great for shooting wildlife and anything that’s farther away. It also wouldn’t be a bad macro (close up) lens, but it wouldn’t be great. I have been told that you should buy used lenses as long as they are in good shape. Especially of you are just starting out in photography like me. You need a good quality setup that you can learn on and get high quality photos, but also save money. Once you are established on your starting setup, then branch out to different lenses to find what you want to shoot or what you think you are missing with your current setup.
I highly recommend that once you get your camera, you practice practice practice! Camera’s are not always easy to use and it takes a lot of practice to get good at using them. If you are planning a trip and want to use a camera, make sure you know how to use it beforehand because you won’t want to miss out on good quality shots because you’re unfamiliar with your equipment (Trust me, I’ve done it).
Once I had a good camera setup, I needed a way to edit my photos. You can be an amazing photographer but if you don’t take advantage of all the great editing software out there, you won’t reach your full potential. Cameras are amazing but the human eye is still better in most cases. Editing your photos helps to make them more appealing. I subscribed to Adobe Lightroom for editing my photos. It’s cheap and I can put it on my mobile devices. It handles storing and working with RAW photos nicely. Depending on the package you get, I got 1TB of storage with my subscription, its around $10 a month. You can get Photoshop too but I personally did not need it to start out. Lightroom works perfectly good for editing and storing all of my photos.
Another way that I condensed my travel setup was getting an iPad. My laptop could probably handle Lightroom and my photos fine, but its big and bulky. My iPad is small, easy to pack, and can easily handle my RAW photos. I can also edit on my iPhone, but my iPad gives me a bigger screen allowing me to more easily edit my photos.
Part of editing is discovering your style as a photographer. I have a lot of friends who are photographers, each of them has a unique style. From seeing their work, I know what styles I like and what I aim for in my photos. From what I’ve seen, your style changes as you advance in your photography.
I love how well my setup has worked so far and I’m super excited to see what I can do with more practice. I still need a few things to finish my setup for an overseas trip but I will talk more on that another time.
Also, I am nowhere near a professional…this is just what I’ve experienced. My advice to you is that if you are looking to get into photography, talk to a professional so that you can get help buying the right gear. Another option is to rent camera gear so that you can test out what you like/dislike. Better to test drive then to buy without knowing what you’re getting and then hating it.
Obviously you’ll need extra batteries and chargers for your equipment as well as a lens cleaner or filter. Below is a list of the equipment that I have or I am planning to add to my setup:
• Camera Body: Sony Alpha 6300
• Everyday lens: Sigma Contemporary 30mm f1.4 for Sony e-mount
• Zoom Lens: Sony E 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 OSS
• iPad 10.2”
• Standard Lightroom Subscription
• Camera backpack (there are tons to choose from)