Three Quick Tips for Beginners! | Photography

I just got an email this week from the sister of one of my former brides, and I ADORE her! She’s too sweet and I love that I’ve been able to watch her grow pursuing photography over the past couple of years, especially because she’s so young! That always inspires me to see people kind of have in mind what they want to do as a career so early — I was all over the place and didn’t find this love of photography until about six years ago so more power to you young things working hard to make it happen!!!! 🙂

She asked: I have been looking into investing in a new lens or two and I have NO clue what I should be looking for in a lens. I have noticed that when i do senior sessions my pictures aren’t coming out as clear as they should be when I zoom in. But, that could possibly be an error on my part. I want a lens that would better fit the types of sessions I’m doing (mainly seniors/kids)

Perfect questions and definitely the same kind of things I experienced and asked when I was new to this! Please know — I never pretend to be an expert! I shoot Canon, I only understand Canon equipment and not even all they have to offer because it’s just SO much…I know what I use and what fits my style best– but I can always offer all the knowledge I possibly can to help someone else out!

Here are the first things that come to mind, for me, when it comes to hearing this from someone.


1. First things first, are you back button focusing? Back button focusing is NOT something that is required, it’s not even something everyone does..I know some phenomenal photographers who do not do this! BUT, I know so many that DO use it because it’s been such a lifesaver for them and I can vouch right now that back button focusing changed my ENTIRE percentage of blurry to CLEAR images! I’m talking, I must have gone up from 60-70% to the 90% — it was the biggest game changer for me the year it happened! Valerie Demo showed me this and I have been so thankful ever since!

I’m SO not with the technical terms but let me explain this to you in the BEST WAY I understand it, and it’s gonna be along the lines of what a lot of people who are photographers actually understand because I’m going to break it down preschool style.

Not back button focusing: When you are using the SHUTTER BUTTON to focus first, and then take the picture, you are using ONE button to do TWO separate functions altogether. Like telling someone to do two different things VERY closely within seconds of each other, and do them right.

Back button focusing: When you use the button on the BACK of the camera to focus, you are saying okay…THIS is your job dude, and now this other dude will take the picture and execute. You’re using two different buttons to do two different functions..and that’s why so many people have an EASIER time getting those images in focus! It’s just less likely (for ME and I’m sure many others!) to get those images sharp and in focus on the first try!!

To set back button focusing, go ahead and look up your camera type online and find a guide to help you set it or refer to your user manual, it’s different for everyone! 🙂


*Back button SAVES me when subjects are walking and in motion, I just focus super quickly and fast over and over! Just my preference!

2. Are you still using the kit lens or have you tried a prime lens yet? Prime lenses are a fixed focal length, so they DO NOT zoom. So many people are scared of this, but they are SO sharp and so much more likely for lots of people to be a better fit for portraits! I only use ONE zoom lens and that’s during wedding ceremonies when I have to use one — and it’s a doozy, the thing was $2400 and is as heavy as my children…a BIG investment! Some people love and swear by zooms and there are amazing ones out there, but for portraits, generally people have more success with prime lenses!

My recommendation in the beginning for Canon users is DEFINITELY a 50mm 1.4 — this lens is SO sharp for the low price it is! I remember loving the HUGE difference in sharpness and bokeh this thing provided me when I first was night and day! If you want to know what lenses are in my bag, I probably need to do a big post on that soon — but I’ll just list for now!

100mm 2.8 macro for details/rings
70-200mm 2.8 II for ceremonies at weddings
50mm 1.2 — MY FAVORITE for portraits!
85mm 1.2 II this one is incredible, like, the best technically with the Mark III…but it’s harder for me to use than the 50
35mm 1.4 for wider/group shots/portraits

I also have a kit 24-105mm from the Mark II that comes in handy when I need a SUPER WIDE shot somewhere, but my next investment will be the 24mm prime! 🙂


*Above is taken with the MACRO lens! Love it!

3. Where you are focusing? It seems like such a simple question but truly..where is your focal point? And are you using a BUNCH of focal dots or just one? I ALWAYS have had WAY more success with JUST ONE lit up focal dot! And you know where I put it? EVERY time it’s on the EYE (unless I’m focusing on another body part, lol) — I swear by putting that thing right on the eye! If it’s several people, you adjust your f-stop accordingly but choose the focal point to be on the person in the middle’s eye and the rest SHOULD follow suit if you have the right aperture!


Again– not a pro. Just a girl that adores her camera, photography, weddings, and sweet emails from people who trust me to answer and help them out a little..hope this helps some of you!! OXOXOX Happy Tuesday!

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