Hi! I'm Jen Lebo. I'm here to help you with all things
photography! Life is more beautiful when you share it, so let's
connect and grow together!
The other day I was chatting with a friend who had just had her first baby. After we gushed over the little guy for a while (seriously, he is the CUTEST thing!), I mentioned to her that I was going to be creating some teaching resources for women, and that she might want to check them out, as this little man was only getting cuter by the second, and she was going to want to have every moment documented. She was delighted to hear about this, but when I assured her that all she would need is a DSLR, her smile turned into this sort of blank stare.
More blank stares. And then I realized my mistake. I’d assumed that everyone had a DSLR- and that everyone knew what a DSLR was! And we all know the problem with assuming…
It seems that if I’m going to start teaching the basics of photography, I can’t assume that everyone has the one item truly necessary to do so.
A DSLR is a digital single-lens reflex camera, or a fancy way of saying what everyone else calls “a nice camera”. Not a little “point and shoot”, and definitely not your phone. I know we all have cameras in our pockets now, but if you want to take your family photos to the next level, you need to upgrade to “the nice camera”.
Why in the world would anyone need a fancy camera, when we all have phones right in our pockets! Well, I’ll tell you why. Phone cameras are great for snapshots, for catching those moments that catch you off guard. And some phone cameras are fantastic- in fact, most are. But they do not give YOU control. A DSLR will give you the option to change your own settings. You can open up your aperture, or increase your shutter speed. Bump up the ISO when you’re in a dimly lit space, or when the sun is starting to go down. You can play with the exposure compensation if you like things a little more overexposed, or maybe underexposed.
Wait. Woah. What??? What the heck is aperture, and ISO, and exposure compensation? See, these are things I’m excited to teach you about in coming months, but you can’t learn how to control them if you don’t own a camera that gives you the control to manually change them.
And chances are high that you’ll find yourself in the most beautiful moment, and the light won’t be perfect, or you’ll wish the sun was on the opposite side of the sky, or that it was just a little brighter. Your baby will be taking his first steps, or heading off to his first boy/girl dance, and you won’t be able to control the light (or have five minutes to get a shot before he rolls his eyes and heads off with some girl!!). You’ll want “a good camera” and you’ll want to know how to use it.
Here’s another great feature of the DSLR. These cameras have interchangeable lenses. As you learn more about your camera, and the kinds of photos you like to take, you can find the lens that works best for you. You can use your 50mm lens for taking wonderful clean and crisp portraits of your babies, and then switch to a 24mm lens for taking landscapes portraits on your family vacation. You can buy a zoom lens to incorporate more options, and you never have need to change the camera body. One camera, endless options.
That’s why you need a DSLR.
Yikes. A “good camera”? That sounds expensive. And yes, a professional grade DSLR can be crazy expensive! But there are so many wonderful entry level DSLRs out there, and they are very affordable. You can get a great entry level DSLR camera and lens kit for a few hundred dollars. That includes the camera body and the basic lens that can then be removed and exchanged for whatever fancy pants lenses you decide to purchase later on.
Be assured though, that that basic lens can do great things right out of the gate, so you don’t need to go out and start buying fancy lenses. And those fancy lenses? Well, they can get as expensive as you like, or as affordable as you like. Most of my favorite lenses are the least expensive ones out there. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to get quality camera gear. You just need to know how to rock whatcha got. That’s what I do. And that’s what I’ll teach you to do.
Ok, so yeah, a quick search on Amazon will bring you up a myriad of choices, from Nikon to Canon, Sony to Olympus, and more. Which is the best? Where are the scams? Which should you buy?
Well, I can tell you that all the big name brands really are the real deal. They are good. They are all good. The two top companies are Nikon and Canon, and you really cannot go wrong with either. You will hear that Canon has better autofocus, or that Nikon has a better entry level camera. Nikon cameras handle noise better, but Canon’s are better for sports photography.
You can find endless comparisons online, and spend hours doing the research, but the fact is that both brands are fantastic. If I were to suggest what camera to buy, it would be EITHER a Canon or a Nikon.
I’ll share with you that I’m a Nikon girl, but that doesn’t make a difference. Canon’s are amazing. So I’d suggest going with either of those. But understand this. If you buy a Nikon body, you need to then always buy Nikon lenses, or other brand lenses that are compatible with Nikon. You can’t buy a Canon lens for a Nikon body, or vice versa. So once you choose your brand, you are sort of married to it. Not a huge deal, as both systems have great products, but just know that when you choose, you’re choosing any future lenses as well.
How about a few options to check out right here? I’m an Amazon Prime girl myself, and would suggest checking there for this purchase. No need to go to some fancy camera store and have some salesman throw numbers and terms at you that will make your head spin. You can get the same great stuff online. I love shopping in my PJs. Don’t you?
I’m not a sponsor of Nikon (as if!), nor would I receive anything should you choose to purchase any of the products below. I simply thought it would be helpful to you if you had some options right here to check out. These are camera kits that I would consider purchasing if I were back at the beginning. These are trustworthy brands, and affordable products, and ones that will last you a good while.
I hope this blog post has helped you. I’m excited to be finally writing it. I’ve had a LOT of friends and clients ask me about cameras in years past, and now I have a place to send them to when they do. If I’ve missed anything, or you have other questions, please put them in the comment section below and I’ll answer them for you. This way we’ll have a little Q&A section to help future camera seekers. Thanks!
I LOVE my camera bag! It was a gift from my super duper awesome husband for my fortieth birthday, and it was exactly what I was hoping for (he's learned over our 17 years together to STICK TO THE LIST! Hee hee!)
Now I'm guessing you might not have a designated "camera bag". Maybe you don't even have a bag to house your camera. Maybe you don't even have a camera yet, and just use your trusty smart phone. That's ok. You still can benefit from carrying these "must haves" whenever you head out to take photos, especially of your kids. Whether you have a fancy camera bag, or a purse, or your pockets, here are my top five MUST HAVES for any photo outing.
1. TISSUES OR WET WIPES
This is really a must for kids of all ages- and for some of us grown-ups too! We all know that kids find messes like it's their job, so having a few tissues can go a long way. A quick wipe of the face can make for a cleaner face, and cleaner images, which means less time on the computer cloning out boogies, or mud, or food (for those who understand Photoshop). Some photos look cute with a messy face and create a great story (like the one below, taken by Aunt Dani), but sometimes a quick moment with a tissue can go a long way.
2. LOLLIPOPS OR A SWEET TREAT
Again, this is a good idea for kids, but maybe we all could use a sweet treat now and then. Get in the habit of carrying a few Dum Dums in your bag, or maybe a few packages of Smarties. Small treats are great because they don't make too much of a mess (although you'll be prepared with Tip 1!), and they entice most any kid to do whatever you ask of them. Don't be afraid to use a little bribery to get the expressions you desire. But be sure to follow through! If you promise the Dum Dum, then give it. You want to create a trustworthy environment for your kids when it comes to photos.
3. A COMB OR MINI BRUSH
No brainer! A comb takes up such little space in your bag and can be a LIFE-SAVER in a photographic moment. In fact, throw one in your car's glove compartment, in your purse, in your coat pocket! I buy combs by the dozens, and they are almost as important as my camera (I said ALMOST!).
4. A SMALL BLANKET (IF POSSIBLE)
OK, so it's not entirely possible to throw a blanket in your camera bag, but if at all possible, grab a blanket when you head out to take pictures. You might find the perfect spot to take your photos- only to discover that the ground where you want to sit your kids is muddy, or cold, or dusty. A small blanket will solve that. It doesn't need to be huge, and it doesn't need to be beautiful. After all, I would suggest folding the blanket so that as little of it shows as possible. We're just trying to protect bottoms, not display the blanket. In fact, I have an old navy blanket that I designate as my travel blanket. It can easily go in the wash, and it folds up pretty small. Sure, it might not fit in my camera bag, but it's worth carrying under my arm.
5. EXTRAS (BATTERIES, CAMERA CARD, CHARGER, ETC)
I'll admit, I'm not the best at following my own advice on this one. And I've had to run home to grab a battery because of it! (Thankfully, I was shooting on campus and a run home meant literally a RUN home). Take a few bucks and buy an extra battery for your camera. Get two camera cards instead of one. If you're shooting with your phone, carry your charger or an extra battery pack for your phone. Don't find yourself in the perfect spot with a dead battery or a full camera card. Trust me on this one!
A few simple items in your camera bag, and you can be saved a lot of trouble during your next photo outing. Neither dirt, nor boogies, nor bed head, nor dead batteries will deter you from gorgeous pictures of your kids! So grab these simple extras, and go have some fun!
As we approach the end of January, I've been thinking a lot about the Mini Workshop I created at the start of the month, and year. With a new vision at the forefront of Jen Lebo Photography, I loved the idea of creating content for women to help them see the beauty in others, and in themselves. This first workshop, called "Refocusing" was aimed to help women improve their photography by looking at things a little differently. It was a step away from what I normally do, and a first attempt at combining a few of my loves- photography, teaching, and encouraging women.
You can read my blog post about this Mini Workshop by clicking here.
So here we are, almost a month later, and I'm curious as to whether this little goodie has been helpful to any of you. Have you implemented the six lessons? Have you shared your images? Are you struggling to get started? To get motivated? Is something holding you back?
These questions (and more) play in my mind often, and I've considered that perhaps a virtual community would help us get the most out of this Workshop. So I've created one on Facebook.
WELCOME TO THE FACEBOOK GROUP FOR THE REFOCUS WORKSHOP COMMUNITY!
Within this Facebook Group you will find:
* A safe and encouraging community where you can ask questions about the Refocus Workshop lessons, go deeper with the Workshop's assigments, share photos for feedback, and offer encouragement to others.
* A forum to ask me specific questions about the lessons, or get specific feedback from me regarding your images.
* Visual examples from me regarding the lessons in the Refocus Workshop as I share my own photos with the group.
* An opportunity to make new friends, locally and virtually, as we share beautiful together.
And of course, it's FREE TO JOIN!
Does this sound like fun to you? Then join me over on Facebook!
SIMPLY CLICK HERE TO HEAD OVER TO THE FACEBOOK GROUP!
But of course, don't forget to grab your FREE Refocus Workbook first!
YOU CAN GRAB THAT RIGHT HERE!
Can't wait to connect with you in our Refocus Facebook Group!