The Best Macro Lens Ever

2014-05-31_0004As many of you know I’m always on a search for ways to spend less and have MORE. If you are part of our Facebook Community then you probably have seen these photos and me posting about this macro lens a million times. For that, I do apologize, but no photographer should miss out on a good deal!

When I first started working with macro photography it was just for ring shots at weddings. I used to think it was so important to have the absolute best gear out there possible, and often times it is. However, macros weren’t the case. I started out by purchasing Canon’s 100mm f2.8 (non L) macro lens. This was great, but a little clunky. It didn’t seem to focus well and I wasn’t overly impressed with the sharpness of the photos. After awhile and a little bit of reading I finally decided to upgrade to the L version of the lens. This lens averages around $1000. So there, I had the best there was for macros right? Well I found taking it out of my camera bag for 25-30 times a year for one ring photo at a wedding seemed like a bit of a waste. It’s like walking around with $1000 burning a hole in your camera bag. I sold the lens (to Chad ironically). After that I tried a series of filters, macro attachments, extension tubes, etc. I was a bit disappointed. I didn’t want to spend big money on a macro that I would barely use, but I still wanted to rock my wedding ring shots.

It wasn’t until this past winter when I started thinking back to my early days as a photographer. I remember when I was so poor I couldn’t even buy a Canon 50mm 1.8 for $100. Instead I opted to go with the old film manual focus lenses just to save a little bit of money. I began to wonder if this would apply with macros and low and behold…it did. I asked around and nobody seemed to know much about Canon’s older film and manual focus lenses. These are generally categorized as FD lenses because the older Canon bodies had an FD attachment, where our new ones have the EOS attachment.

One day I was searching around on for used FD macro lenses and I stumbled across the Canon 100mm f4 macro FD lens. It was $80 used. It couldn’t hurt, right? So I bought it. That was only a couple months ago and let me tell you – that was the best $80 I have ever spent on my business, ever!

Since we’ve discussed this in our Facebook group several times here are a few common questions people ask related to my experience with this lens:

1. Average price?
If you buy it used you can find it for between $80-150. Both price points are great deals on a macro lens. Comparibly the Canon 100mm non-L lens averages about $500 and the L version $1000.

2. What about the aperture?
Yep, it only goes as low as f4. Many of you know I like to shoot wide open. The one big exception to shooting wide open has always been with macro ring shots, you can lose so much with such a shallow depth of field when you’re that close to the object you’re photographing. I often have my macro aperture set much higher than f4.

3. What about the manual focus?
What about it? If you’re mainly using a macro to capture wedding rings and newborn toes you don’t need to worry about auto focus. The auto focus on even the newer EOS lenses is still difficult to use and not recommended when shooting macro. If you’re mainly using this for only occasional use this lens will be perfect for you. Some photographers like to use the 100mm/105mm macro lenses to shoot portraits. If you do that you’ll probably want to invest in an auto-focus version.

4. Is there a Nikon equivalent?
Of course! This is also a discontinued old film lens you will want to buy used and goes for a similar price point. You can find the Nikon 105mm f/4 macro >here<

5. Will this fit on my camera (full frame, cropped, etc.)?
Yep! If you’re using a newer Canon EOS body (which is most likely you are) you just need to buy an EOS to FD adapter. I bought a very cheap one on Amazon, brand doesn’t matter.

6. Where can I buy it?
Well after all my posts about it a lot my usual haunts for used gear are currently out. Keep an eye out for it on Ebay, Amazon, and at or other used camera gear retailers.

7. How did you get that awesome bokeh in your photos?
Well….by getting myself a ring kit together. A friend of mine, Ashley Fisher, is an amazing photographer in St. Louis and put together a ring kit she brings to each wedding with glitter paper, beads and other props. I’ve been taking this to all my recent weddings and it’s amazing! You can find out more about her ring kit >here<

Here’s a few sample photos to show you what it’s capable of. I don’t fancy myself the best photographer, but I think these are pretty sweet.


Bridal Show Tips and Photos

I thought I would take today’s post and focus a little bit on the bridal show I did yesterday. I know not everyone who reads is a wedding photographer, but if you’re thinking about doing an expo of any kind maybe this might inspire you.

To make a long story even longer I’ll say that I’ve been preparing for this bridal show for quite some time. I did a re-brand of my business this Spring. Re-brand isn’t even the right word. I branded for the first time ever and I learned so much.

What I learned about branding this year really changed the focus of my business and the types of clients I am getting. I can’t even begin to tell you what a valuable investment branding was. I really wished I had taken the time years ago to understand the ins and outs of branding, how it works and mostly, and how important it is.

So the story of the bridal show is that I started going shopping for antiques and purchasing items that I felt expressed my brand to use in my booth. My booth ended up looking like a cute antique shop store front. I focused on showcasing images that best expressed my brand and the types of clients I was looking for. A lot of photography booths at these big expos have huge industrial-style set ups, tv screens and other things that I don’t think are as visually appealing. My goal was to use my branding as a way to draw in clients. Although my images aren’t edited in a vintage style, vintage stuff expressed my personality and that’s what I use to brand my business.

You can check out some of the photos of the booth below. They are iphone photos. The bridal show is crazy busy so I don’t like having my fancy camera sitting around just in case. This was probably the most successful bridal show I’ve ever had simply because of the way my booth looked. Sometimes the booth was so packed that my husband (who helped) and I couldn’t even stand in the booth. Normally, with bridal shows it’s my goal to email everyone who left info within 24 hours and I was receiving emails all evening when I got home, into the wee hours of the morning and again today. My inbox hasn’t ever been so full of inquiries all at once and normally I’m the one chasing them down instead of the other way around. I think it’s all due to having a cohesive brand that people can connect to. There were definitely some ladies who gave my booth the “that’s gross” look because they don’t like rustic and that’s great. I have always emphasized that a really strong brand is one that people either immediately love or hate and there’s no wishy washy feeling in between. Brides connected with my booth because it appealed to their own likes and they immediately felt we had something in common.

I also wanted to touch on what my booth cost me for display items, etc. I don’t ever want to display a lot of huge framed photos or buy big industrial displays, big TVs etc. None of that is my style. I have always emphasized that you could run an awesome business that’s also not going to break the bank. So, here’s the lowdown.

10 Canvases in various sizes from CGPro Prints – $270
500 Business Cards from Vistaprint – $20
200 Handmade Fliers with burlap and lace textures – $100 + lots of man hours of labor 😉
3 Antique Doors – $35 each
1 Antique Window – $30
100 4×6 Prints from WHCC (purchased through my own PASS galleries) – $100
Big Banner Sign in the Back from Vistaprint – $70 ($40 for banner and $30 for stand)
Antique Desk from Flea Market – $15 (yep you heard me)
Antique Chair from Flea Market – $15 + my mom bought fabric and recovered it for me – she’s AMAZING!
Mason Jars and Vases – Approx $40 (purchased at goodwill or Hobby Lobby)
Ribbon and flowers for Jar Decor from Hobby Lobby – $20
Candles and Candle Holders from Target – $20
Vintage Suitcase (it’s a Newborn Prop I’ve had for years) – $0
Old 7up Crate (family heirloom) – $0
Business Card Basket (old newborn prop) – $0
Canvas Stands (used from my own wedding years ago) – $0
Burlap Table Runners from Hobby Lobby – $10
iMac (it’s my own regular computer) – $0
Bulletin Board that matches Chair – $0 (made by mom)
2 Notebooks and Pens (Target) – $10

Total Spent: $825

I realize the total may not seem affordable to some, but this is on the cheap side for what most photographers spend for a bridal show investment. You can customize this look and spend less by purchasing less canvas, less prints, no banner/sign, print cheap fliers at Kinkos, etc.

I really hope this experience might inspire you to do something different for your own business. To brand and see what happens and how it can affect your business success. I also hope that I could show you that you don’t need big fancy tv screens, light up frames, and all the really expensive features to build an expo booth. You can have an amazing booth at an affordable price that people absolutely love.

Also, don’t mind the last image of me and my shoes. I like to brand myself to match, so I’m wearing vintage boots (that have lace) and a lacey sweater and a dress I felt expressed a little of my brand too!


The Ultimate Wedding Emergency Kit

Last week we had a blog post about wedding bride/groom hangers (Here) and someone asked for a post where I talk more about what’s in my wedding emergency kit! So here it is…the ultimate wedding emergency kit! My wedding kit is still a work in progress – I’m always adding to it. One thing my mom suggested was to have a ‘something blue’ in it. I think that’s a brilliant idea (thanks mom!). This year I just went out to Ikea and bought some fun boxes, which are getting labels too so everyone knows where to find everything!

I’ve got stickers ordered in the mail to label the box and small round stickers with my logo and website in case anyone manages to not put something back when they’re done – then, hey! It’s free marketing!

You might be asking yourself, why go to all this trouble? I realize that bringing a big kit to the wedding is completely unnecessary, but I feel that it’s part of providing top-notch customer service. I even bring this to portrait sessions – you never know! I know that my job as a photographer goes beyond simply taking photos and getting paid. I want to provide my clients with the best experience ever and not let anything ruin their wedding day.

So…here it is, there are little tips and tidbits in the captions of each photo.

Oh P.S. I also bring a leatherman with me too, but it’s always in my pocket!

Lily (#thelily) decided it was very important to be in these photos. These are all boxes I bought at Ikea. I have stickers for the top of the box to say it’s mine and feel free to look inside and use what you need. Each individual box has a theme with a label of the items inside.

The infamous bride hanger. I have a groom hanger too. I do not allow my clients to take these.

This pink box has a lot of odds and ends in it. Straws – so the bride doesn’t ruin her lipstick. Antibacterial hand gel. Mentos – for yummy breath! A paper and pen. Girly things – need I say more? Snacks – just in case. Sometimes people forget to eat on the day of the wedding.

This is the green box with all the hair and makeup things you might ever need. It has 3 tiers.

Inside the hair and makeup box we have: hairspray, hairgel, bobby pins, face wipes, makeup remover wipes, nail polish remover wipes, tweezers, nail file, nail clippers, chapstick, sunscreen, deoderant, lotions, vaseline, razors, and baby powder. These are all little $1 travel-size items.

This box is the ‘medicine cabinet’ with: pepto, claritin, benadryl, advil, tums, contact solution, and eye drops for red eyes.

2 Little Pink Boxes! One has a first aid kit and the other has extra phone chargers and batteries (AAA an AA).

The big black box has items used for fixing things, fixing dresses, clothes, buttons, decorations and tissues for fixing happy tears.

Inside the big black box of ‘fix-it’ tools there are mini tissue packs, duct tape, a mini sewing kit, static guard, wrinkle release spray, a bleach pen, lint roller, and clear nail polish.

These four little jars are in my big black box to carry all the smallest items.Inside the little jars which are inside the big black box are q-tips, safety pins, straight pins, super glue, and jewelry parts (extra earring backs, necklace fasteners, etc.).

54 Must-Have Wedding Photos for Photographers

54 must have photos1. Wedding dress hanging up
2. The shoes
3. The rings
4. The flowers and ceremony decorations
5. Bride getting ready
6. Groom getting ready
7. Groom putting on boutonniere (traditionally the groom’s mom pins it on him)
8. Bride putting on dress/veil
9. Bridal Procession at Ceremony (each set of bridesmaids/groomsmen and anyone else in the wedding party)
10. Bride and Father Walking down the aisle
11. Groom’s expression when he first sees his bride
12. Reciting Vows
13. Exchanging Rings
14. Unity Candle/Sand Ceremony/Any other unique addition to the wedding
15. First Kiss
16. Introduction of the Mr. And Mrs.
17. Signing the Marriage License
18. Receiving Line (if they have one!)
19. Bride with Parents
20. Bride with Mother
21. Bride with Father
22. Bride with Siblings
23. Bride with Parents and Sibings
24. Bride and Groom with Bride’s Parents
25. Bride and Groom with Groom’s Parents
26. Groom with Parents
27. Groom with Mother
28. Groom with Father
29. Groom with Siblings
30. Groom with Parents and Siblings
31. Bride and Groom with Flowergirl/Ringbearers
32. Bride with Bridesmaids
33. Groom with Bridesmaids
34. Bride with Groomsmen
35. Groom with Groomsmen
36. Bride, Groom, Bridesmaids, and Groomsmen
37. Bride with Maid of Honor
38. Bride with individual bridesmaids
39. Groom with Best Man
40. Groom with individual groomsmen
41. Bride Portraits
42. Groom Portraits
43. Bride and Groom Portraits
44. Arrival of Wedding Party at Reception
45. Cake
46. Reception Decorations
47. Toasts
48. Cake Cutting
49. First Dance
50. Father and bride dance
51. Mother and groom dance
52. Garter Toss
53. Bouquet Toss
54. Bride and Groom Farewell/Driving Away

These of course vary depending on the bride and groom’s families and wedding parties as well as their individual wedding and anything extra that might be happening. This list is just a starting place of must-have shots and all these family photos in there can vary greatly. I strongly suggest you consult with each bride and groom individually to ensure you are aware of any family situations and any extra family photos they may or may not want.

Simple Wedding Photography
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