Who What When Where Why How

When one begins any skilled profession, they learn to use a set of tools to complete the task. Eventually, the craftsman develops a relationship with these tools, they evolve, and the tradesman progresses in skill. Developing your talent using the best product is essential to a quality end result and increasing success.

I was taught at age 19 on Canon using Canon lenses. Canon Speedlites. Canon battery grips. Canon Canon Canon. I had a giant Pelican Case full of L-Series glass at my fingertips, and I fell in love with certain pieces of gear. 

Where do you find a reputable camera company? Which brand should I purchase? Which model should I buy? What kit do I get? What lenses are the best for what I want to do? WTF is a flash? Tripod, Monopod, Tide pods?

My first camera was a RebelT1i with probably an 18-55mm 3.5-5.6. The camera and lens probably came in a kit, camera body and lens, with a bag. (I still use the camera bag that came with my 5DMK3). So, that's a 'starter prosumer' dslr and a lens that will increase from an f-stop of 3.5 to an f-stop of 5.6 as you zoom-in, and visa versa as you zoom out you may lower your f-stop. This is called variable aperture and it's common in consumer-grade lenses. 

The benefits of purchasing a professional DSLR compared to a 'prosumer' DSLR are a greater variety of lens compatibility (especially with the nice L-series Canon glass), your sensors are going to be of a higher quality and absorb light better (aka more info recorded/higher ISO ability/lower noise), and the quality of the body of the camera itself will be higher than a plastic grade on the 'prosumer' level. On the higher-end, L-series glass lenses are sharper, offer lower depths of field (Bokeh/twinkle lights), better quality of materials = longer life of lens, and they're more work horses than the lower-end/less expensive lenses (which are at the opposite end of all of those spectrums). Purchasing a lesser quality lens may help the wallet and won't weigh as much; however,  the nicer glass makes a huge difference, in my opinion. 

I currently shoot with a 5DMK3 (22.3 megapixels), 50mm 1.2, 17-40mm 4.0, and a 70-200mm 2.8 IS. My backup camera is the original 5D.

Less information recorded = less detail = smoother pores (gasp) 

You want to photograph in a dark location, you want a camera that has a higher ISO capability than the original 5D (1600) and you want a better sensor than a prosumer camera for the least amount of noise as possible. If you don't know how to use a speed light or any flash off-camera, ensuring you're able to dial up the ISO is a safe route to set yourself up for success.


You've decided either a Prosumer or Professional DSLR is best for you. Top of the line RebelT7i prosumer, great beginner's camera, $800 ish. Top of the line 5DS just shy of $4k, the new cute and popular 5DMK4 maybe $3k. Your 6D at $2k is full-frame, but your 7DMK2 at $1.8k, 80D at $1.2k, and 77D at $900 are all crop sensors. Full sensors are a 'larger canvas' which offer more information, better for capturing more light, and lower depths of field, but with a lower margin of error. The advantage of a crop sensor are basically increasing your 'zoom' ability. A 50mm lens on a crop sensor is basically an 85mm lens on a full frame sensor. Full Frame sensors are 36mmx24mm while Crop sensors are 22.3mmx14.9mm. 

I LOVE FULL FRAME. #fullframeforever #iloveshallowdepthsoffield

What is Mirrorless?

Which brands developed Mirrorless options?

My opinion on Mirrorless cameras is that Canon just came out with theirs in 2018 and I will wait at least a year or two before I even think about making a change. I want to see reviews and let the company have time to work out bugs and churn out newer models so that my purchase is more likely to last.

Buy a new 5DMK4 or RebelT7i

Buy a refurbished 5DMK3 or MK2 from a trusted company

Find an original 5D, very affordable

I buy lenses new or from trusted sources, contact local pros and reps

Canon Speedlite | Yongnuo Flash on Amazon is the affordable route I chose

Studio Lights, I love my AlienBees | I love my Neewer Light Ring

Light modifiers shape light to create various scenarios from bright and commercial to dramatic and high fashion. Softbox, Octabox, Beauty Dish, Strip Box, Grid, Umbrella, Snoot, Barn Door, Reflector, Shoe

Backgrounds galore, don't forget the background system

Pocket Wizards are great for studio triggers, I use them, and sometimes the light systems have receivers built-in; however, the optical slave (usually located on the back of the studio lights), is easily triggered with a simple speedlite, placed on-camera, and pointed in the direction of the light at a low enough power to not affect your subject. I was taught this ‘old-school’ way without transceivers and receivers, and am able to work with or without them. Versatility is important when you may have to work with different lighting tools in various scenarios and there are multiple ways to achieve a good result.

Photoshop and Bridge are my post production tools and are the main components of Adobe Creative Cloud's $10 monthly Photography Plan

I do not know Lightroom. At all. Period. Bridge is a great organizer, with a rating system, and it's simple to navigate. The images and files viewed within Bridge are as they appear in the computer. No importing, only sidecar .xmp files which need to be transferred if the raw file has been altered in Camera Raw. 

Camera Raw is a beautiful program Photoshop and Bridge has. You're in Bridge, you want to hit Enter/Return to open a raw file in Photoshop, in Canon's terms it's a .CR2 file, and it opens first in Camera Raw. Here is the money. You're able to adjust the exposure, brightness, contrast, Kelvin temperature, tint, highlights, saturation, shadows, etc... You're also able to tweak your hues, crop, reduce noise, remove chromatic abberation, and much more. I love Camera Raw. Why are you 'supposed' to shoot in raw? To capture the most information so you have the most 'paint' to work with on the canvas. If you shoot .jpeg, you're immediately cutting the quality of the image. Do most things need to be photographed in raw? Not usually, unless you're making large professional photographs or printing billboards. Raw is ultimately for the professional who needs as much information within the file as possible to ensure small mistakes can be corrected. Underexposed or overexposed, more info will be your saving grace. Raw files simply store more information. More information = more wiggle room in post production and better quality for larger prints. Think about a 4x6 print being only four inches by six inches, that's all the space those little dots of ink can work in. You obviously get more detail in the larger prints, and then we're back to why we need as much info as possible in the beginning. 


Photoshop is its own monster. I've been using the program for over ten years and I still have only scraped the surface. I duplicate layers to ensure no destruction to the original file until I achieve the results I want. Merge, duplicate, work, merge, duplicate, work. The patch tool is my favorite, followed closely by the clone stamp tool. I know the hot keys to duplicate, merge, invert, desaturate, open curves, open levels, open color balance, select different tools, save, save for web, close the project, close the software, zoom in and out, increase and decrease tool size, grab and move the image, change color space to cmyk, bust out the ruler or guidelines and hide them, and start a new document. Muscle and brain memory help when retouching. My left hand remains on the keyboard and my right hand on my Wacom tablet (whack-em). The tablet I've been using is a medium Intuous 3 and I got it about seven years ago. I have had to replace the pen and nibs, but the tablet keeps kicking. I had a Bamboo Wacom tablet before the Intuous, but my cats chewed up the cord and they didn't have detachable cables at that time. 

I have videos of retouching and post production on my YouTube Channel