What camera should I get?

Today’s post is to help those who are looking to buy a camera. Because I’ve been around for a while (started in 2006), I get this question more often than not!

When digital really started to make an impact on the professional photography world, it was around 2005 or so, camera companies were still working out kinks.

Fast forward to 2019 and most of those kinks don’t even phase the camera companies. They’re more concerned with making mirrorless cameras and creating something more compact.

In recent years, camera companies have expanded their smaller cameras to have more professional-grade capabilities, making them lighter, a bit more cost-effective, and still with great quality output.

All of that to say THEY ARE ALL PRETTY MUCH THE SAME.

what-camera-to-buy-for-beginners

FIRST, ASK YOURSELF: WHAT DO YOU PLAN ON USING THE CAMERA FOR?

This is probably the first thing I ask when people ask me to help them purchase a camera. Most often people go out on the search for a camera because they have some event, trip, or otherwise that they feel they need more than their cellphone to capture great photos.

Some don’t even know what they’ll use the camera for and are just looking for something for the future.

phone-flash-portrait-hack_0040.jpg

You need to sit down first and ask yourself what you plan on using the camera for. This is going to help you determine if you need something consumer-grade or professional.

Are you a hobbyist with some experience in photography? Are you primarily a cellphone type of photographer? Are you thinking of learning more settings or just want something higher in quality and easy to use? Are you looking to spend more money, later on, to keep learning new things or is this a one time purchase?

phone-flash-portrait-hack_0022.jpg

These questions will help you figure out whether you plan on giving photography more effort or just want something to capture your daily life beautifully. Or perhaps you want an adventure style camera like the Go Pro and don’t have any interest in either consumer or pro cameras.

Maybe you don’t know yet and are just beginning to look around. If you’re into film, that’s for a whole different post!

Consumer versus Professional

These two terms are something you should familiarize yourself with if you’re looking for a camera. Knowing which category you fall into will be the determining factor on what type, style, size, and budget camera you should purchase.

phone-flash-portrait-hack_0023.jpg

CONSUMER

A consumer-grade camera is usually cheaper, smaller, with a smaller sensor - meaning, less data/quality, and sometimes has lenses that are attached (the hybrid camera). Some have detachable lenses but you have to make sure they are the right fit.

Since these cameras have smaller sensors, the lenses you use must also fit the same aspect ratio of the smaller sensor. In short, the sensor is what records the image. What you see through the viewfinder isn’t what you’ll get exactly in the final image.

rain_jackielamas.jpg

On a small sensor, what you see through the viewfinder will get cut out on the edges. The amount depends on how small your sensor is. Just make sure you read the box on the camera you’re looking for. If it says anything about a sensor being a specific size, then you’re looking at a crop sensor or consumer-grade camera.

Who should buy a consumer-grade camera?

Consumer-grade cameras, because of their crop sensors, size, and particular price point, these cameras are perfect for someone who loves to capture their family travels, family events, everyday life, etc and not have to deal with bulkiness or doesn’t care to really use the camera out of Auto Mode.

These cameras are easier to use, better to understand when it comes to taking photos, and all-around great for everyday use.

IMG_1939.jpg

They are a step up from a really great camera phone, to put it in more simpler terms. Obviously, if you purchase one with detachable lenses, you have more range than a camera phone.

PROFESSIONAL-GRADE

Becoming a pro takes money, education, and practice. If you’re looking to get into photography professionally, be ready to invest. If you are just starting out, I suggest you start on a consumer camera that has detachable lenses and learn it 100% before jumping into the pro camera side. That way, while you’re learning, you don’t have to spend as much upfront.

tips-for-beauty-photos.jpg

Professional cameras are identifiable by the FULL FRAME feature. Full frame means that the sensor is equivalent to that of 35mm film. Back when film was standard, medium format cameras were the high grade quality cameras and required 120 film. With the onset of personal cameras came the 35mm film cameras. Some pro, some personal grade and every type in-between.

Full frame cameras capture exactly what you see reflected through the mirror of the camera. No cropping and no loss in data. What you see is what you get. This also makes the quality of the photo much better.

using-midday-sun-to-create-photos.jpg

There are many, many, many professional style cameras out there and even medium format cameras like the Hasselblad that is even greater in quality. But expect to also pay for what you get.

You want a full-frame quality camera, you’ll have to spend accordingly. And sometimes, they don’t come with lenses, which also means you’ll be spending on lenses of the same caliber and price point.

Look for FULL FRAME on the box or on the detail list of features of the camera to choose a pro-grade one.

Who should buy a professional-grade camera?

Someone who is already looking to upgrade, familiar with photography, has a budget and is looking to take photography more seriously.

tips-concepts-beauty-photos.jpg

You don’t have to go into photography professionally, like weddings or portraits, but even a more serious photojournalist, street photographer, or nature photographer will need the pro camera for the quality in both body and lenses.

This is someone who has moved out of Auto Mode and is looking to expand their portfolio because their current camera isn’t giving them more range.

GO OUT AND LOOK AT CAMERAS FIRST

This is the second thing I’ll tell people to go out and do. Go out and take a look at the cameras. Research online beforehand and then go and pick the camera up in your very own hands.

There is nothing like picking up a camera and seeing how it feels in your hand. Take a few test shots and see how you like the way it sounds.

planning-newborn-session.jpg

Nikon, Sony, Canon, Fuji, Pentax, all of them are pretty much on the same level now. Research online and then see which one feels better.

I remember I liked Canon when I first started. Again, this was at the beginning of the digital era and at the time Canon was the better choice. But now, they are all really great cameras!

Sony took a few years to catch up and are now doing great things! Even I want to upgrade to the AR 7 II. But this is after having 10 years to practice, learn, and give my Canons a good run for their money.

phone-flash-portrait-hack_0041.jpg

The perfect camera doesn’t exist and so the next best thing is to pick the one that feels right in your hands.

It’s like when you go buy a car, you can do all the research online you want, but when you test drive it YOU JUST KNOW.

Same with cameras. Go to Best Buy, Fry’s, Walmart, Target, anywhere they sell cameras and get a really good look at all the features up close and personal. Then choose the right one.

IMG_9097_jackielamas.jpg

BOTTOM LINE

Digital cameras now are all pretty much on the same level as far as quality. The best thing to do is to research which features best serve your photography goals, go and look at them in person, ask others about cameras they have, and then make a choice.

I will say this if you do end up splurging on a camera that has detachable lenses, be ready to spend in the future for more lenses!

Photography is a never-ending artform and there is always something new to learn especially with these types of cameras, also known as DSLR cameras (digital single reflex cameras, which is because of the mirrors they have to help see the photo before taking it).

And if you have any questions, just ask me and I’ll try and help you out as best I can!


Pin the image to save the post to refer to in the future!

Disclaimer: I know many photographers will look at this post and roll their eyes at the idea that cameras are all the same. Save your comments. This is a simplified post about how to purchase a camera, not about which camera is better or to confuse people with unnecessary jargon.

Tips for working with children under 5 years of age.

Photographing children, especially those under 5 can seem like it would be really hard to get their attention enough to actually take a photo. I’ve been there for sure, a little cute two year old running in the complete opposite direction of my camera!

I hope these tips can help you out so that you can make the most of a session with those little kids that have lots of spunk and personality but don’t necessarily care about your camera, ha!

family-photography-portraits-puerto-vallarta.jpg

1. Talk to the parents before the session

Next week, I’m going to dive into pre-consultations and why it’s important to educate your clients, but in the meantime, just know that it’s super important to talk to your clients about EXPECTATIONS.

bucerias-nuevo-vallarta-puertovallarta-photography.jpg

When you photograph children under 5, you really can’t expect them to pose, sit/stand, and be in one place for a long time. It’s really important that you talk with the parents and lay out the expectations.

For starters, children don’t usually last more than 45 minutes, and that’s saying a lot. Expect them to be behaved at least 30 solid minutes if you wish to have posed and perfect photos, less if they aren’t in the mood.

puerto-vallarta-family-photographer

However, giving your clients this expectation and explaining to them that if they allow you to play, explore, and be the kid’s best friend during the session, they may get more time and many, many, more photos.

Letting parents know that perhaps their child might not be up for photos is okay! This takes away any stress that the parents might have going in an letting them know that you’ve got lots of experience with children and if need be, you can always reschedule.

puerto-vallarta-family-portrait-photographer

Reassure your clients about your experience and let them walk away from the meeting / pre-consultation prepared and feeling excited for the session.

Tell them to bring snacks, drinks, and extra clothing so that in case the children get a little hungry or fussy, or dirty, they are well prepared. Bringing along toys are also helpful especially if the child is attached to toys, like my son doesn’t go anywhere with out a toy and so I’d probably have to bring along a bulldozer or dump truck along to the shoot.

nuevo-vallarta-portrait-family-photographer

It’s better than having a meltdown before the shoot. Plus, it would most definitely capture who he is at 3 years old and I wouldn’t mind having photos of it!

2. Get on their level

It’s generally a good idea, and what I like to do before I take any photos, is to get down on their level and introduce myself. Ask them what their name is and just keep it light. If they don’t answer it’s okay. I’ll compliment them on something their wearing or a toy they’re holding.

photographing-toddlers-under-5-children-portrait-photographer

Usually they’re pretty shy at first. But bringing yourself to their level makes it more trusting for them to later play and tell you about their dog Georgie.

Getting on their level might also mean running around, playing tag, and asking them if daddy likes stinky farts. Anything to get a smile out of them, usually the 3-5 year olds will have a good laugh at the last one.

family-portraits-puerto-vallarta.jpg

For babies or children around 2 years old, making loud noises, singing their favorite songs, or placing them somewhere they can play with legos, building blocks or other toys can really help them to focus on something and maybe they’ll turn in your direction at E-I-E-I-O if you sing it loud enough, ha!

nuevo-vallarta-family-photographer

I once had a kid who just really didn’t to pose, he was about 3.5 years old. He didn’t want anything to do with me or the camera. So I started asking the parents for favorite songs, favorite shows, until we landed on Dora the Explorer. He was a huge fan and at the time I actually had a hair cut short like her and well, I kinda look like her too. So we started play the “Dora game” and explored and I made silly comments, obviously got everything wrong about the show, and he laughed at me and we got some cute shots.

That’s the Dora toddler. Look at that smile! I’m sure he’s laughing at me but I don’t mind at all!

That’s the Dora toddler. Look at that smile! I’m sure he’s laughing at me but I don’t mind at all!

Sometimes, it takes a little more effort but find something, get on their level, and make it work.

3. Take breaks between posing and non-posing

Nothing can set off a toddler faster than being bored and being told what to do. Taking breaks between poses can really help a kid relax and have a lot more fun than being told what to do.

beach-portraits-grand-mayan.jpg

When you feel like you’ve gained enough trust between you and the child(ren) ask them to pose alongside mommy and / or daddy. Posing mom and dad first can help the kids just fit into the photo pose rather than having them pose first.

Sometimes, giving them the choice of where they want to stand or sit can help you pose around them. This also helps them to feel like they’re a part of the show and usually if they’re more willing to pose on the left, let them!

mixing-posing-lifestyle-photography-tips.jpg

Other times, I ask if they want to pose with daddy or mommy and that can help them find the perfect place where they want. Having them make that decision can make posing happen faster.

Break up the session with walking shots, playful shots, maybe some exploring shots and maybe sun silly face shots. The children don’t often know that these photos are capturing once-in-a-lifetime moments, but what they will remember is how much fun they had. And that is what is more important than anything else.

portrait-photography-tips.jpg

Get the parents to play along and tickle, throw the kids in the air, or simply do some huggy shots. Anything that makes the session feel less posed and more relaxed is a definite win in the kids’ eyes.

4. Don’t force it

This is a HUGE one for parents, and should be discussed when you meet with them before the session. DO NOT FORCE IT. A toddler who doesn’t want to sit on the right side of mommy, if forced, could have a meltdown or run away or cry and then shut down for the rest of shoot.

portrait-photographers-children-puerto-vallarta

Instead, have them choose where they want to sit. Sometimes the older kids get tired and don’t want to smile, don’t force it. Make some funny noises or play with a toy or have mommy and daddy help, but don’t force them to smile.

If the kid is not about the session at all don’t force them to do it. Have a shoot with the parents and sometimes, the kids feel left out and so they later want to join in.

family-photographer-mexico-puertovallarta

Find a way to get them to WANT to be a part of the session. But if you force it, you’re not going to have a good time at all. Especially if the parents are doing the forcing.

5. Reschedule it

If you can, and it’s most definitely an okay option, reschedule it! I once had a two year old who as she showed up to the session cried the whole time in a fit because she simply didn’t want to be there. We tried and it just got worse, so we rescheduled it for the next day at an earlier time.

nuevo-vallarta-family-photographer

And you know what? It was 100x better! By the end of the session the little babe was picking out where she wanted to pose, even got to do a couple of clothing changes, and she was all smiles and giggles. Even shared her water with me.

Rescheduling can help reset everyone, parents included, and you might even get better photos than what you thought! I

jackie-lamas-article-families-00006.jpg

Some parents feel like they can’t reschedule or feel like they have to get it done then and there, but if you can, offer the idea of rescheduling and do it. Reassure them that it’ll be better for everyone and it’s not a problem at all! Of course, it all depends on your business model and what you have going on, but if you can, do the family a favor and just reschedule it!

6. Last but not least, schedule the session at a good time for the child

We may want to have those beautiful sunset photos with that gorgeous golden light, but let me tell you, a two year old who is supposed to be napping or already down for night night is not gonna care about golden light.

senior-photography-tips_0040.jpg

A child who is supposed to be eating her dinner isn’t gonna care. A kid who is used to having his quiet time isn’t going to care. Work around the best schedule for the child.

I repeat: WORK AROUND THE CHILD’S SCHEDULE AND ROUTINE.

It’ll make life for everyone so, so, so much better. For example, one family opted to have a session at 9am because that’s when her kids were the most energized and awake. Another family was able to do right before dinner because that’s when the baby was the best.

senior-photography-tips_0054.jpg

Making sure the children are at their best time is best for everyone. It’s the best way to avoid meltdowns due to hunger, sleepiness, or changes in routines.


There you have it! I hope these tips help you get a little more confident in photographing children under 5. And don’t forget to shoot in burst mode because these little ones are fast! Got any tips you want to share? Click on the comment box and leave a comment, we all could use tips from each other!

Sharing is caring! And if you liked this post, share it with others who would love to keep learning some tried and true tips from this old photographer ;P.

Would you like to sponsor a post? Or write one yourself offering your experience to photographers everywhere? Fill out the form HERE.

Don’t forget to pin the below image so you can save it for later!

how-to-photograph-children-under-five-easily