Recommended Resources

Over the years, I’ve tried to refine what tools I use on an everyday basis and many resources have become really essential in not only my photo workflow, but life in general. I’ve been using some things for so long that I don’t know what I’d do without them now.

Here’s my list of resources for various tools, software, etc. that I use regularly and can recommend to someone looking for something similar.

Please note some stuff below uses referral links. If you use these links and decide to buy something, it doesn’t cost you anything extra and helps support the site. I only talk about products I personally purchased, owned and used extensively enough to recommend (i.e. I was never paid to review anything or got anything free). You don’t have to use the links but I thank you if you do!

 

Photography Gear

I go into more detail about my photo gear and general photo gear recommendations on other pages, but as a quick guide here’s a super abbreviated list of the gear I’d recommend:

  • a camera

What? You expected more? Well, alright. :)

If you’re interested in more than just snapshots, then you’ll probably also want:

  • a few lenses (1-3)
  • a compact camera (I used to recommend this but found I never use mine anymore – the camera phone usually takes its place.)
  • maybe a UV or polarizing filter
  • lens cleaning cloth
  • memory cards

 

Photography Software for Editing & Organization

If I had to recommend just ONE tool for photography, Lightroom is it. It will help you organize, manage and edit your digital photos. Yep, it’s that awesome. (Note: If you already have an older version it’s probably not necessary to upgrade unless you’re looking for a new feature only available with a newer version – I’m still on version 4).

Once I started using Lightroom I found that it does everything I need (and even stuff I didn’t know I wanted).

While Lightroom is my go-to photo editor and organizer, I do also use Photoshop a wee bit, and here’s (a very unscientifically-determined) breakdown of my usage:

 

Online Tools

SmugMug

(Use the link above to try it FREE & Get 15% Off if you subscribe.)

The main reasons I chose SmugMug for photos are:

  • Unlimited Storage – I can upload all of my JPG images so I have a safe, offsite and accessible-from-anywhere storage solution
  • Photo Focused – I looked into other online storage solutions (like Dropbox and Amazon S3), but decided they weren’t good options for images because they host all types of files. SmugMug’s dedication to photo hosting lets you do things like create galleries, sell your photos, apply watermarks and save different sized copies of your images (without you having to do the resizing yourself).
  • Support – Their support team has been incredibly responsive, helpful and knowledgeable which can be hard to find.

For more details, you can also read my review of SmugMug.

 

PicMonkey

Somehow I stumbled upon this little gem and I’m so glad I did. If ever I want to make a quick photo edit or add some text to an image (which I do a fair amount for this site) and I don’t want to open up Photoshop to do it, I turn to this free online tools. Did I mention it’s free?

 

Books

As a self-taught photographer, I’ve read a lot of photography books. Some were so-so, most were decent, but these are the very few that I liked best:

Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. Don’t really need to explain what it’s about, obviously, but I will say it was a great read!

Speedliter’s Handbook: Learning to Craft Light with Canon Speedlites by Syl Arena. Flashes aren’t the easiest things to use and understand, but this is, hands down, the best book I’ve read on how to use Canon’s Speedlites.

Dog Dogs by Elliott Erwitt. I couldn’t not like this book, being both a photographer and dog lover. So if this also sounds like you, you’ll enjoy pawing through this book. ;)

Simpler Photo: A Short Guide to Digital Photography for Beginners by Kim Olson, yours truly. I would be silly not to mention my own book here, not just because I wrote it but mainly because I truly think it’s a helpful guide. If you end up reading it, please feel to free to let me know what you think about it. I’d love to hear your feedback!

 

Online Reading

  • photonotes.org – Run & written by NK Guy, this site has a ton of photography information and I find his FAQs particularly useful.

 

Shopping

For my Photo Gear, I use B&H the most, though occasionally I’ll also use Amazon & Adorama.

 

Inspiration

One of the ways to improve your own photography is to find and study the work of photographers you admire.

Here’s a short list of a few photo geniuses who have inspired me with their imagery.

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Elliott Erwitt

Dorothea Lange

Steve McCurry

Robert Capa

Richard Avedon

Life Magazine