Some of the most common questions I get from you guys relate to photography, so I’ve decided to finally break down all of the equipment I use to create content. Before we get into it, I just want to preface by saying that when I started my blog in 2012, I didn’t really know what I was doing. I was working in corporate finance at the time (full story here) and began craving for a creative outlet, which led to the creation of this blog. Phil agreed to take photos of me, and as the blog grew, so did his interest in photography. We spent countless hours watching YouTube videos, reading articles, and Phil even took lessons. Looking back, obsessed was probably an understatement!
We’re really happy with our photography kit and progression at this point, but it took such a long time. Below, I’m giving you guys a detailed look at the equipment we use and why we love them. I’ll also make a few recommendations for affordable options since I know most of my kit includes professional gear. Bear in mind that photography and blogging is both a journey – so educate yourself, practice, and be patient so that you can grow and elevate your content at the same time.
Canon 5D Mark III
I honestly believe that photography can make or break a blog. With so many beautiful blogs around today, high-quality photo content definitely is a factor that keeps readers coming back. That being said, when Phil and I decided to upgrade from our first DSLR, we went with the Canon 5D Mark III. This is the camera I use for all of my blog photos and Instagram content today. We love it because it produces beautiful image quality, performs well in low light, and gives you greater control. The downside is that it’s bulky so I sometimes dread carrying it around. Overall, we’ve been really happy with our choice and feel that’s worth every penny.
There are times when I’m out without a camera and come across a great photo opportunity. For those spontaneous, on-the-go moments, I’ll use my iPhone 7+. The quality of phone cameras have really improved in the last few years, which makes it easy to snap a great picture anywhere.
Sony a7S II
For my YouTube videos, I film with the Sony a7 SII, which I bought a couple of years ago. It’s a great camera for capturing video in low light, which was a big deal to me since I didn’t want to be restricted to the time of day I could record videos. At the time, it was also one of the few cameras offering 4k video recording and autofocus (in video). I’ve always valued quality, and I’m still happy with my choice today. The compact size and user-friendly menu are also huge bonuses!
(A budget-friendly option is the Sony A6000.)
Canon G7X II
My go-to camera for vlogging is the G7X Mark II. The best thing about this camera is the size. It’s small enough that I can just toss it into my purse and carry it around all day. I love that it features a flip up screen so I can actually see myself. For such a small device, I was very impressed with the photo, video, and audio quality. It’s an all-around excellent camera for filming and shooting on the go.
(Canon also has the prior Canon G7X model still available for a slightly better price).
Canon 35mm 1.4
The Canon 35mm 1.4 is a wide angle lens, which Phil and I primarily use for full-body shots. It’s great for making you appear taller – and capturing more of the background without having to step back too far. There are times when I want an environmental shot especially if I’m traveling and want to capture the landscape. This lens is our go-to for that.
(The Canon 35mm f/2 will give you the same wide-angle feel for a fraction of the price.)
Canon 50mm 1.2
Phil loves using the Canon 50mm 1.2 for close up detail shots. However, it is a great all-around focal length for bloggers who need full-body and portrait shots because it’s not too wide nor too tight. We love the wide f/1.2 aperture because it’s what creates that dreamy, blurry background.
Canon 85mm 1.2
The Canon 85mm 1.2 our go-to for headshots and 3/4 length shots. It’s great because Phil can shoot a close-up headshot and it’ll captures all the details I want without distorting my facial features. Oftentimes, wider focal lengths (like the 25mm and 50mm) will make certain features appear larger if you get too close to the subject. We occasionally use this lens for full body shots if we want a lot of bokeh.
(The Canon 85mm 1.8 is a great introduction to telephoto lenses which can get super expensive. This one is great for portraits and runs under $400.)
Canon Speedlite 430EX III – A speedlight can be a game changer for shooting indoors when there isn’t enough natural light to capture a high-quality photo. This is the one we use. Phil never points the flash directly at me though. We’re usually bouncing the flash off of a light-colored wall and it instantly makes a photo appear brighter but natural.
Transcend CompactFlash Memory Card – All our photos are shot in RAW, which means the files are larger and take up memory faster. This memory card is powerful enough to keep up with all the images we take. That being said, it’s so important to invest in a fast memory card for your camera.
If you plan on filming or taking photos of yourself at all, then you absolutely need a tripod to hold the camera still. Below are some of the ones I use for the different cameras I have:
Rode Video Microphone – Although the Sony a7 SII has pretty good audio quality, I wanted something that would help block out background noise and improve the overall sound of my videos. This one has been super easy to use and produces the professional quality I’m looking for.