Q: Now that we’re having a baby, I need to get a decent camera! I have a little point and shoot now, but I think it’s time to invest in a decent SLR. I’m not a professional, of course, so it doesn’t have to be fancy –it just needs to take good pictures. Any suggestions? - Michelle
A: I get this question all.the.time. And to be perfectly honest, unless I’m lugging around bulky professional gear, I typically rely on my iPhone for quick images to upload to Twitter or Facebook. But if you have a little peanut in your family’s future or perhaps just want to make some nice images from your honeymoon, purchasing a digital SLR is the way to go. You won’t regret it.
SLR, by the way, stands for single-lens reflex. The biggest difference between a digital SLR and a point & shoot (hereafter referred to as p&s) is you can change the lens. And unlike a p&s camera that uses an LCD display, SLR cameras use a mirror to show the image that will be captured in a viewfinder (more thorough geek tech explanation found here). By manipulating the digital SLR’s camera settings, you’ll be able to capture action, photograph in low light, zoom in tight on those precious baby toes, and print frame-worthy quality enlargements as you see them in your camera’s viewfinder.
In my humble opinion, there are only two brands of cameras worth looking into: Canon and Nikon. I learned how to shoot on a manual SLR Nikon in high school and switched to Canon in 2005 when they seemed to be leapfrogging Nikon on offering the best professional cameras and lenses. At this point, they’re still neck & neck, both producing a consistently reliable quality product. You can’t go wrong with either.
You can get a decent p&s camera for under $400. You’ll need to invest a bit more to upgrade to a digital SLR, however, so don’t let the prices shock you. According to Consumer Reports, these are the top rated consumer models for according to image quality, useful features, battery life and weight (listed in order of price):
I enjoy talking about weddings with other vendors and I love getting the inside scoop from photographers. I am always fascinated by how photographers play with light and how they work with the bride. I worked with Willi Wong for Marni’s wedding (see below photo) just last week when I posed for a portraiture session with him. We had a ton of fun and I can’t wait to show some of the great photos. Willi is a storyteller and ultimately a great story is what we all want to hear or see. I highly recommend reading Willi’s blog which is full of thoughtful insight as well as see great photography. I always come away with a positive outlook after I read his blog.
Willi was kind enough to let me interview him:
What questions should a couple ask the photographer during their consultation?
Check out part 1 of the Kate Parker Weddings photo shoot to see the behind the scenes details on the “bride’s” hair and makeup.
Spending a day with Liesl from Claris Photography is no ordinary day. Her ability to find unique locations and capture elegant moments is amazing and quite an art form (her sense of humor is also one-of-a-kind)!
Time of Shoot: 2:00pm
Hair: Hair that Moves - Lena Hartford
Makeup: Joya beauty - Joanne McDonough
Photographer: Claris Photography
Accessories: Occasions Bridal and Tuxedos
Flowers: Apotheca Flower Shoppe
Location: selected urban areas in Portsmouth
Liesl shares with us some of her thoughts around the shoot and particular shots…
Stillmotion is a family. We’ve always felt that way, both on a personal and professional level. We are always sharing with each other. When one team has an idea, it doesn’t just stay within the cinema or photo team, it gets shared with everyone. This means growth. This means refinement. This means that no matter what, that idea is going to be better as a result of it passing through so many creatives.
For me, personally, it means that I get a lot of different perspectives. It means that I can talk to the cinema team and learn from incredible people that have the same passion for creating fascinating imagery, but have a very different medium in which to create it.
For them, it means the same. They can pass ideas through me, share something they are proud of, and get back something that is so much more than what it was before.
However, there is something they have that I do not -each other.
They are a collective of world class cinematographers who are constantly working together, whether in shooting, editing, brainstorming, critiquing, or educating. They are always building on each other. as individuals, they are all fabulous, but together, their creativity, drive, and focus is immeasurable.
I, on the other hand, don’t have another photographer that I can grow with. I don’t have someone that can constantly push me. Until now.
And so, with the collective good in mind, we have made an addition to our little family.
Last week I was on the phone with a mother of the bride talking about why brides no longer do photos of entire tables. The funny thing is that I’ve never been to a wedding in my life where this was done, but back in our moms’ day, this was certainly the norm.
With couples opting for more photo-documentary style photography, how do we remember exactly who was at our wedding say 5, 10 or even 30 years down the line? Originally, these photos existed for that purpose, even long after the last thank you note was written, you could look through your wedding album and see every table grouped en mass in a single photo.
Seattle Bride Magazine hired an amateur wedding photographer to follow Joey Hong, a pro photographer from John & Joseph Photography in Seattle. I actually met Joseph for a very brief moment when I was starting out in photography myself. He was shooting at my ex-girlfriend’s wedding in LA, and I introduced myself to him during the reception while he was going around shooting. I just remember afterwards sitting at my table thinking, “man, if I could only ever be as good as them, how awesome would that be?”
Before the wedding, my ex told me that she hired these guys in Seattle and paid something like $5000 to have them come down and shoot her wedding. I was like you paid what?! And you flew who from Seattle?! At that time, I didn’t even think paying over $1500 for a “wedding” photographer was worth it. Don’t they just stand there and say “1, 2, 3, cheese!” Well, after I saw their website, I immediately knew why she hired them. So I had to meet them when I got a chance. Their website was my first exposure to really good wedding photography. Jerry Yoon Photography might not have materialized if not for this chance meeting with one of the best out there!
This article does a great job of pointing out the difference a fraction of a second makes when a pro is ready for a photograph vs. an amateur who is fumbling with their settings and can’t execute on all levels when a peak moment is flashing by. Well, I’ve said enough about the article and now you should just go read it.
Roseann and Michael are getting married down in LA, but we can’t be there, so the next best alternative was to do a pre-wedding session. It was pretty cold that day, but Roseann braved it and worked the camera well. I wish we were able to shoot their wedding though, because we had so much fun together.
Naomi is one of my best friends. We met our first year of college in New York, I was a hot mess, and she had it together. We are very much an odd couple, and we started out by naming our differences. But years pass, and you find that there is always one person who is really there for you, without prompting, who is automatically at your door with a bag of greasy food, the 6 hour long Pride and Prejudice, or cleaning supplies during every single life crisis. Over time, when you have a person like that in your life, they become family. Naomi is my sister, and she hates it when I photograph her. Jerk.
Naomi has just left New York to become an Officer of Law Enforcement in Los Angeles. She’s going to see what she’s made of and become a gun wielding, hand to hand defensive combat trained bad-ass. I’m so proud of her. (But of course, part of me just wants her to come back to New York!)
New York is a lonely place without my dear friend. My parting gift to her was a session for her puppy Carter, who I also love very much. To be truthful though, I thought Carter was an annoying little brat when I first met him. But he grows on you. Kind of like Naomi .
This was my first ENTIRELY film session! The anxiety waiting for these to come back from the lab was unrelenting! Shot with the Contax 645, Fuji film.