My Favorite Photo Gear, Tools, and Resources

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Hello and Happy Tuesday! I know it’s been a little while since I posted a blog post, and I wanted to dive back in. Blogging really does make me happy and so does photography – I’ve missed doing both the past couple of months! I thought it would be a wonderful chance for me to talk about photography gear, tools, and resources. I’ve been serious about photography for about 4 years now. I still have a lot to learn, but I have learned so much already.

Within those 4 years of learning photography, I’ve collected some photography gear that I love and can’t live without. I’ve also come across and learned what my favorite tools are and resources. There’s so many blog posts and sites out there to help you with photography, it sometimes can be very overwhelming. With this post, I’m hoping I can help you get an idea of where to start.

I was also a beginner at one point and had no idea what I was doing. I googled and searched the internet so much in my first year or so of starting photography (heck, I still do this). But I’m hoping I can help some of you beginners by pointing you in the right direction.

Let’s get started, shall we?!?

Aly Dawn Photography Resources

My Favorite Photography Gear

Nikon D610 -I love this camera. When I made the jump from full frame to crop frame in 2016 it was a game changer. I really love the capabilities that come with full frame. I am, however, saving for a new camera, the Nikon D750 and I will keep my D610 as a back up. But the D610 is the perfect first full frame camera you can get.

*If you are a beginner photographer looking for a beginner camera, I recommend the Nikon D5300! You will be able to learn manual on it and get your foot in the ground of photography. It has many great abilities. I used this camera for about 3 years before upgrading to a full frame.

Sigma 24mm 1.4 Lens – I love this wide angle lens! I also really love prime lenses. I also love the fact that I can get close to my subjects or back way up and get the full environment! It’s a great versatile lens and I highly recommend it.

Sigma 85mm 1.4 Lens – I also really enjoy this lens. However, unlike the lens above, this lens is zoomed up! It creates such beautiful blurry backgrounds. You have to be pretty far away from your subject (which is why I don’t use this lens as much, with an active toddler, I prefer to be close to him). But I do love the images I can produce with this lens. The background compression is gorgeous.

*A word of advice on Sigma lenses – some people say they don’t like their Sigma lenses due to focusing issues. I definitely have experienced this. If you get a Sigma lens, YOU HAVE TO CALIBRATE IT. Here is a good tutorial on lens calibration that I recommend.

I wrote a blog post about the perfect first lens to buy (cheapest lens, too!).

My Favorite Photography Tools

Tripod – I just recently got this tripod. It works pretty well for the price! I love how high it can go – so high! I can get awesome self portrait angles with it. It’s sturdy and does the job.

Lighting Equipment – I literally have the cheapest lighting equipment out there. I wanted to try out artificial lighting, but I didn’t want to invest in case I didn’t like it. So I got this lighting equipment and I love it! I know if I upgrade to better lighting equipment, I’d love it even more. I love having this equipment on those days where it’s dark out (ahem, I’m looking at you winter months) or if I wanted to take pictures but it’s already dark outside. It’s also great for still life photography.

SD cards – I have two SD cards because my camera has two slots (I love that feature!!). You can’t go anywhere without your SD cards! I would recommend getting more than one. I might even go and buy one more here soon, just to have and just in case. I’ve had countless times when I only had one SD card and I went out on a photo shoot and the card malfunctioned – OMG that’s the worst. And so embarrassing! Especially if you are in business, you NEED more than one SD card.

Phone Clips – I don’t use these often, but in cases where I want a little push in creativity, I give them a try!

Camera Bag – I love my camera bag! I really don’t know where I got it from, I think it was an anniversary gift from my hubby. BUT! ClickinMoms has some great options! As well as Amazon. It’s essential to have a good camera bag. I love that I can literally carry all of my camera gear and it’s safe and protected. When looking to buy a camera bag, look for one’s that provide ‘pockets’ where you can put you camera and lenses is separate compartments. I love the idea of a camera bag backpack. Which Amazon as a ton of options for that are totally affordable (I’ve seen camera bags that are $300 so I’ll take a $70 bag any day!).

Adobe Creative Cloud – You have to have a photo editing tool. Especially if you are shooting in RAW. Even if you just like the bare minimum in editing, it’s important to get a good editor. I really love the Adobe Creative Cloud. I use Lightroom and Photoshop and both are great! Lightroom is my go to editing software and I’ll sometimes bring the photo into Photoshop.

X-Rite ColorMunki Display – Whether you’re an beginner or expert, it’s important to calibrate your monitor. I use the ColorMunki, there are others out there, though! I like how easy ColorMunki is to use.

I wrote a blog post about my favorite camera accessories here that you might be interested in!

My Favorite Photography Resources

There are SO many good resources out there! So it can definitely be difficult to tell which ones are good quality resources vs just ok resources. All of the resources below I have tried myself and LOVE. Hope you give them a shot and love them just as much!

ClickinMoms – This is the ultimate photography resource! They have classes, mini classes, and a forum! Just the forum itself is FULL of amazing photography tutorials. From editing, to shooting, to how to run your business ClickinMoms is full of amazing tutorials. I would recommend getting the lifetime membership. If you use it two years in a row, it pretty much pays for itself. And you can swing back in every once in a while and read their tutorials. You can also post any questions you might have. They have pros and mentors to help you with your questions. I’ve learned so much just being a member of the forum and HIGHLY recommend this resource!

CreativeLive – CreativeLive has free classes as well as classes you have to pay for. They are a little different than other photography resources because the big majority of their classes are video classes! If you are more of a visual learner, this site is great for you!

Pixieset – I love Pixieset! If you are in business, delivering galleries can sometimes be a challenge. You could opt for the old ‘deliver a flash drive gig’ which may work for you…but I love that I can deliver the galleries instantly over the internet. And they can share that with their friends if they wish. It’s easy for me. If you use the link above you’ll get 250 MB in storage free! Win-win for us!

Blurb – I cannot stress to you how much I LOVE Blurb! I even wrote a blog post about why I love Blurb. Blurb is a way to create your own books featuring your images! I’ve created three so far and already have plans for two more. They are really easy to use in Lightroom (keep on the lookout for a tutorial on how to create a Blurb book really soon). I do recommend printing out your images! And if you take a lot of images (like me) then a photo book is your best best. Unless you like to have a ton of single photos laying around. 😉

BorrowLenses – I love BorrowLenses! I use them all the time when I want to test out a lens or camera body before buying them. That’s what I did before I bought either of my favorite Sigma lenses. It’s especially smart if the lens you are eyeing is expensive. Don’t waste your money on buying a lens that is expensive if you’re not sure if you’ll like it or not. Definitely use BorrowLenses FIRST! And they’re fairly priced. You can rent a lens for however long you want. I also like to rent lenses if I need it for just a weekend for a shoot or something. They have plenty of other camera accessories as well.

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