Friday, September 21, 2012


One of the things I love most about blogging is sharing information. I love learning from others and sharing the things I've experienced and learned myself. In my opinion, photography, or the ability to take a good photo, is a huge part of life. Having good quality, attractive photos is important for eye-catching blog posts, capturing your product as a small business, creating memories, and making moments eternal.

I am NOT a professional photographer. I consider myself an amateur, and have loved experimenting with photography over the past 3 years. I first learned about using an SLR during college and purchased one for myself after graduating as a way to make my blog more professional and record life for myself. In order to learn about taking pictures and really challenge myself I started Project 365 during my senior year of college and recorded my last few months of college, wedding planning, marriage, honeymoon, moving into our first home, starting our first jobs and getting our first little pet. It was such an exciting project to take on and it really helped me to (1) take my camera with me everywhere and (2) see more opportunities in everyday life to take pictures.

Getting my DSLR a year ago was so, so, so exciting. My camera was glued to my hip and it was so thrilling to see the quality of my photos improve as I learned to use it and experimented with fun lenses and editing programs. This "toolkit" post will outline my favorite camera must-haves and what I use on a regular basis for Maiedae and life. I hope you find it a helpful resource!!

THE CAMERA + MY EVERYDAY LENSES: As I mentioned above, I purchased my first DSLR one year ago. After a lot of research and looking at my price range, I decided to purchase a Canon Rebel T3i. This camera comes with a 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, which is a good basic lens that does well inside and VERY well outdoors with some good natural lighting. It was love at first site. The T3i is a great camera for an affordable price and I have found that is does everything I need it to do as a blogger and small business owner. After several months of experimenting with my camera and practicing on my cats I decided to purchase a 50mm f/1.8 lens. This has quickly become my new favorite lens and is on my camera 95% of the time. It does great in lower light settings and adds a beautiful blur to my photos because of it's shallow depth of field. The only trick is that there is no zooming in and out with this lens so it's not optimal for photographing a room or group of people in a smaller space. But it IS fantastic for portraits, and more up-close shots. Most of the photos on my blog are taken with this lens. Below are a few examples of photos taken with the standard lens that comes with the camera and the 50mm lens:

ACCESSORIES + OTHER FUN LENSES: Being able to purchase useful accessories and quirky lenses is a fun way to experiment and make things easier on yourself. Here is a collection of my favorite camera accessories:

1// iMo Camera Straps ---> Jon bought me a new camera strap last Christmas to replace the Canon strap that came with my camera. I love the quality of these straps and the beautiful designs. It's comfortable around my neck and makes my camera more of a wearable accessory.

2// Wireless Shutter Release ---> This little guy was less that $5.00 and a great item to add to any toolkit. Mount your camera to a tripod and use this handy remote to take pictures automatically or with a 2 second delay. I used this last month to take pictures of Jenny and I!

3// Wide Angle Lens ---> This lens fits right over your standard lens to add more of a wide angle to your photos as well as the option to zoom in closer. It's very affordable and is a great option if you're not ready to invest in a more expensive wide-angle lens.

4// Fisheye Lens Adapter ---> I bought this as well as the lens above at I love that this lens allows me to add a toy camera quality to my SLR and is fairly inexpensive. Overall, Photojojo is a GREAT resource for quirky photography gear.

Here is an example of a couple shots I took using the wide-angle and fisheye lens:

5// JoTotes ---> This was the first camera bag I purchased. I love how organized it is on the inside and how sturdy the bag is as a whole. JoTotes has beautiful camera bag options in an array of colors. I would also say that they are great multi-purpose bags! You can use them as a diaper bag, workbag, overnight bag...etc. Definitely a top recommendation.

6// Kelly Moore Bag ---> This bag was a little more of a splurge for me this year. I wanted something that could hold my macbook, charger, iPad, wallet, camera and other things if necessary. And this bag sure does the trick! I currently use this bag as a work bag when I go to my 9-5 and as a carry-on purse when traveling. It's also a great multi-purpose bag that is very organized, has lots of pockets and is great for all your camera goodies.

PHOTO EDITING SOFTWARE: Taking a good picture is the first step. Editing it to make it shine is the next. All of the photos I take go through an editing process to give them a little lift before they're posted or shown to others. These are my go-to programs I find myself using almost everyday:

1// Photoshop CS5 - If you were to ask me how much time I spend in Photoshop every week I would probably say an average of 30-40+ hours. As a graphic designer I use Photoshop ALL the time and I also use it to size, crop, and edit my photos. I don't know all of the professional photographer tips and tricks for specifically editing photographs, BUT I do use a lot of the basic and intermediate tools when it comes to photography.

2// Radlab - Ok! I'm excited about this one! When it comes to my photography toolkit, Radlab is my all time favorite!! I LOVE this program. I use it for pretty much all of my photographs and I can't imagine editing without it. You can see an example of what it looks like in the screenshot above as well as a few photos I shot edited in Radlab above the screenshot. In order to use radlab you have to have to have Photoshop. It's an action based program that runs through Photoshop and gives you the ability to apply beautiful filters to your photos. You can mix filters and create your own recipes. The people over at GetTotallyRad have some other awesome products that you should check out too! AND be sure to enter 1255MAIEDAE at checkout to get 15% off of your purchase. Awesome!

CHECK IT OUT: Here are a couple extra things to peruse and possibly add to your toolkit.

1// The Study of Light E-Course by Arrow & Apple ---> "The Study of Light is a brand-new online course that covers everything from lighting outdoors to lighting indoors! The course is split up into eight weeks, although it's set up so that you can go at your own pace. You won't need an expensive flash or lighting set-up - in fact, I will show you how to use what you already have, as well as how to build your own indoor home studio (lights and all) for less than $50. Each week is interactive, and you'll also have a little homework too!" I have yet to take this, but as soon as the pace slows down a bit at the Wallace household I will be diving into this amazing e-course! 

2// Click Magazine ---> A new magazine that just came out for the "modern photographer." It looks like it will have some incredible resources and inspiration! I'm planning on subscribing and can't wait to get my first issue.

3// Clickin Moms ---> I'm not a mamma yet, but I love this beautiful online resources for photographer ladies. In fact, the magazine above was created by Clickin Moms! 

And there you go! That's everything in my photography toolkit! I hope you where introduced to some new exciting things or are inspired to start clickin' away! If you have any toolkit essentials you'd like to share, please comment below and share your link! 


  1. This is so great! I love everything that has to do with photography :)
    And I would love to take even better pics for my blog!


  2. thank you so much for this! really helpful info! :)

  3. Thank you for this, i'm currently setting up a small business and need to learn how to really improve my photography!

  4. Great post! I mostly use Adobe Lightroom for photo editing though, I find it much quicker since it's made especially for photos. :)

  5. I love posts like this - I have a strange obsession with how other people approach photography! I used to use Photoshop for EVERYTHING but recently I've switched to Lightroom for most of my editing and its made my workflow a lot smoother. I still use Photoshop if I want to play around a bit, but Lightroom is perfect for the small adjustments & resizing.

  6. Thank you for this post, I've just downloaded a demo of RadLab and it's amazing! :)
    Love from your new reader from Poland :)

  7. Thank you for all this information, I love it!

  8. This is great. Thank you for sharing and I wish you the best! =)

  9. Thank you so much for sharing your camera tips. I really want to strive to improve on taking good photos. I love this.

  10. This is a fantastic post. Thank you so much for sharing. I've heard so many wonderful things about the Canon Rebel that I'm finally thinking of saving up. :)

    xo, Adriana from Horses of Ares.

  11. =( I recently just realized 15% of RADlab, I bought it last week without the discount =(

  12. so much information! Thanks for sharing! xx
    Alice Barton ♥ The Mow Way