Tech+Life

My favorite photography tools

Camera

Fuji X-T2

I recently switched to this mirrorless system and really love it! It has amazing low light capability and incredibly fast shutter speed; both features that really come in handy when photographing children.


Lenses

Fujifilm 23mm f/1.4

My favorite focal distance for families with children. I can be close to the action and help prompt authentic emotions with no lens distortion.

Minolta 50mm f/1.7 (vintage)

Can you believe that I picked this up at a thrift store for $20?! After using this for several months, I often reach for the lens just for that creaminess this vintage lens adds to a scene. It's almost like butter. It also works really well for freelensing and makes some fun oblong bokeh.

Rokinon 12mm f/2

I reeaally love wide angles lenses! Obviously it's great for real estate and interiors photography but it's also a fun novelty lens to use for environmental portraits of children.

Helios 44-2 58mm (vintage)

This is a fun specialty lens that, in the right situations, can produce a swirly bokeh that almost looks like it's spinning behind the subject.

Fujifilm 50-140mm f/2

Not every situation calls for the photographer being all up the clients' faces. This heavy lens helps me build muscle and give my clients breathing room. It also creates that smooth bokeh that makes me melt.


Software

Lightroom and Photoshop

A must for professional photographers. Lightroom is the standard for organizing and editing of photos. Photoshop is for the heaving lifting. Both have their strengths and weaknesses but are as necessary as a camera.

Blogstomp

For resizing images and creating image galleries for blog posts. Saves me tons of time.

Dubsado

Ah, how I love Dubsado! I can organizing contacts, invoices, proposals, contracts, automate forms, and so much more. Dear Dubsado makes me look so very professional. 


Accessories

Joby Pro Sling Strap

This strap has saved my shoulders and back so many times. I can camera my camera and a large lens for hours without any trouble. This strap is an absolute necessity when I photograph newborns and small children. When not photographing, I cinch the camera close to my body and it won't swing forward when I bend down. You definitely don't want a camera bumping a sweet child in the head!

ExpoDisc

For perfect white balance, a photographer must master color systems. This includes knowing the "color values" of trees, skies, skin tones, etc. It also helps to have an ExpoDisc for those really tricky situations like golden hour under a glowing green tree. 

  • Macro filters
  • Lens Pen

Camera Bags

Ona Bowery Canvas messenger

This is the perfect size to hold my mirrorless and 1-2 small lenses or if I have the camera on a sling, it can hold at least 3 lenses. It's durable and strong but not too big.

Jo Totes Allison

The version I have isn't made anymore. I use it to store my small collection of lenses and small camera stuff (like lens pen, extra lens caps, etc.) It still looks great after four years. I don't usually take it out on shoots because it's pretty heavy on my shoulders though.

Follow the Trail: A guide to great kid books

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Can I admit something? I used not like reading books to my kids. I was tired of reading the same mediocre picture books over and over. I wanted to read books with beautiful artwork; books with lyrical, memorable words; books with great inspirational messages. Finding these amazing kids' books became my new job.

An observant child should be put in the way of things worth observing. - Charlotte Mason

Childhood is too short to waste time reading fluff. Too often when I'm browsing the library, I see shelves of movie-to-book stories, characters who are poor role models, or silly stories with poor drawings. Where are the amazing kids' books that teach wonderful morals or behaviors or have artwork that can inspire my own children to pull out the paints?

Where do I find great kid books?

  1. Know what kind of book to look for. We started by making a list of authors and illustrators we loved. We then checked out everything by those people. That gave us a good start to identifying the types of books we loved - books with beautiful writing (almost poetic) and realistic, gorgeous hand-drawn illustrations.
  2. Seek recommendations from bloggers you trust. This was when I found blogger Sarah Mackenzie of the Read Aloud Revival. She's a homeschooling mom who runs a very popular podcast where she interviews authors and offers tips to cultivate a culture of reading in your family. Yes, please!

    1. Read aloud revival - Podcast and membership forum
    2. Read aloud resources - Facebook group
    3. Modern Mrs. Darcy - Booklists
  3. Find trusted publishers. I noticed that many books we read were from a couple of publishers. They had great consistency in publishing quality literature. So, we sought out more books they published. I can definitely recommend Beautiful Feet Books.

Organizing your booklists

I highly recommend GoodReads as the best way to organize the books you want to read and those you've already read or own.
I tried keeping paper lists of books, either in a notebook or on scraps of paper in my wallet, but somehow never had them handy when I found myself unexpectedly in a bookstore or library. I ended up adding nearly every book we own into Goodreads and I keep a running list of book I want to read and books I want to read with the kids.
Stay tuned for a future post that goes into much more detail about how I organize Goodreads.