Thursday, January 19, 2017

{what's in my camera bag}

A lot of friends have asked me for photo advice—what I edit with, what lenses I own, etc.—so I've finally written a long post on all my tips!

I should start by saying I am by no means a professional. I took a few photography courses here and there, but I am primarily self-taught. I learn through practice. That's my biggest tip: practice!


Overall, I believe in investing in lenses, not the actual camera body itself. Not to say the camera isn't important, but if you stick with the same brand, your lenses will work on (almost) any model you upgrade to. Lenses are with you for the long haul.

I'm loyal to Canon, so all of my recommendations are that brand, but I've heard wonderful things about Nikon and Sony. (And Fuji!)


I use this backpack when I travel or hike. It can fit my camera, lenses, cords, external flash and battery. There's plenty of protective padding and—even when it's full—still feels really light and comfortable.

If I want to pack my camera or a lens in my purse, I use these protective coverings. They come in a few different sizes.


I used a Rebel XT for two years, then moved on to the Rebel T4i for about four years. Both of those were great to start with and were exactly what I needed them for. (The T4i takes great video too.) I used them mainly for portraits and they took really beautiful photos. Most of the photos on this blog were taken with either of those.

The reason why I have moved on from the T4i is because I wanted a full frame camera. There are two kinds: crop sensor and full frame. Crop sensor cameras have a tighter frame on the subject. They, essentially, "crop" the photo and increase the focal length. Full frame cameras have a wider frame, so more of the subject is seen. Full frame cameras are more expensive, so I waited to make the investment until I was gaining more clients. I just upgraded to a full frame—a Canon 6D—in the past year and I'm loving it so far.

With that said, I'd still recommend starting out with a crop sensor camera. As you'll see from the photos in the post—most of which were taken on my T4i—a crop sensor camera still takes the photos you want it to take.


Like I mentioned above, smartly invest in lenses. I've had the same ones for years and they all work as well as they did the day I got them. Here's what I have:

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
If you want an affordable, starter portrait lens, this is the one I'd suggest. It's a fixed lens, which means there is no zoom—you are the zoom. Here are some photos I've taken with it:

Canon 50mm f/1.4
This, another fixed lens, is a step above the 50mm/1.8 since it has a larger aperture and therefore a smaller depth of field. The focus is sharper and faster, and the bokeh is much more smooth. This is my favorite lens to shoot portraits.

Canon EF 35mm f/2
Before I invested in a full-frame camera, I wanted a wider lens that showed more of the subject than the 50mm lenses. This 35mm ended up being the perfect option. Aside from portraits, I've taken many beautiful landscape images with this one.

Canon 18-135mm STM
This is my widest lens and came with my T4i when I bought it. It's great for larger family photos and landscapes. STM = Stepper Motor. When shooting video with this lens, you can keep the autofocus on rather than manual, and the focusing noise will remain fairly silent. (Typically if you shoot video in autofocus, the focus noise is pretty loud and can ruin video.) Unfortunately this doesn't fit on my new camera, so I'm now on the hunt for a new wide lens!


I almost exclusively edit in Aperture, which is a Mac-only program that is (sadly) no longer available to buy. I also use it to house and organize my photo library. Apple's program "Photos" is so inconvenient when it comes to editing options, so I highly recommend not using it. (Same goes for iPhoto, for those who still have that). I very rarely use Photoshop.

I also edit with Nevercenter's CameraBag - they are now on their third version and each has gotten better and better. It's great for quick edits.

Continuing to use Aperture doesn't seem like the best idea, especially since it's not sold anymore. I'll soon be upgrading my personal laptop and when I do, I'm going to start fresh with a new organizing system. I'm hoping to use Adobe Bridge to house my photos and will probably edit in Lightroom.


I have the Canon Speedlite 430EX for my external flash, though I hardly every use it. I prefer natural light. I also use this reflector when shooting indoor portraits, to help soften the harsh flash.

And finally, I use this background if I need to shoot products or newborns. I've only used it once, (and am still getting the hang of properly setting it up), but I'm glad I have it just in case. One side is white and the other side is black.


So there you have it. Anything I didn't cover? Anyone have additional questions? Comment and I'll answer them! And here's my photography website, if you want to see other work I've done.

Friday, January 13, 2017

{hello 2017}

These photos make me want to take a deep breath. Don't you get the same feeling?

We went back to Big Sky, MT for Christmas this year and I couldn't wait to snap photos of the forest again. We didn't get as much snow as we did last year, but the amount we did get was plenty beautiful. These photos were from a hike to Ousel Falls - I'm dying to go back in the summer or fall. I'm sure the colors are gorgeous!

These are all from my phone. I did that thing again where I lugged my camera along with me on the trip and didn't take it out once. But I'm determined to take more pictures this year. It's one of my resolutions.

And speaking of....happy 2017!

I was eager to get back to San Francisco and jump into my work routine and start another resolution - running. But then sickness and nonstop rain put a stop to those plans the day after I got back, so I was pretty lame the entire first week of the year. All is well (and drier) now, so I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things this weekend.

I still owe a few posts - one of which being a photography and camera overview. I've been writing it over the past few months, so I'll finish it up soon. In the meantime, does anyone have any running tips for beginners? (Never mind the fact that I ran both cross country and track in highschool...) Please send them my way!

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

{beachy design inspiration}

Over the holiday, I was able to visit my mom and stepdad's new-to-them beach house on Long Beach Island, NJ. It's modern, but still comfortable and cozy—the most important thing about a beach house, in my opinion. My mom has a lot more ideas up her sleeve about how to finish decorating it, but there were a few vignettes that looked too great not to photograph. She has such an eye for design; I always go to her for style advice. You'll see why below.

Here's what I learned from this house:
—Wallpaper is still impactful, even on just one wall.
—Beds can make statements.
—Pillow arrangements matter!
—Less is more.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

{where to eat in Nashville}

Rolf & Daughters

At the end of September I visited Nashville for the first time! I haven't spent much time in the southern part of the USA, so I was excited to venture into the heat and check out the home of country music.

Since I was there for a work (and spent most of the time at the hotel/conference center), I can't give you many tips on what to do or see in Nashville. But what we lacked in tourist stops we made up for in food, so I wanted to share them here.

Tequila Cowboy | visit
Okay, I didn't eat here (and I wouldn't want to...), but I did attend a cocktail party at this bar. If you're looking for a fun spot on Broadway complete with country music and a mechanical bull...this is your place.

Prince's Hot Chicken Shack | visit
There are two popular places in Nashville to get the city's famous hot chicken: Hattie's and Prince's. We chose Prince's, since we'd heard about a three-hour-long line at Hattie's. Prince's is bare bones and as simple as can be—paper plates, cash only, and picnic tables inside. But the chicken looked and smelled so delicious (I couldn't eat it), my mouth watered the entire time I was there. Though the lemonade they served made up for their lack of gluten free options, my co-workers confirmed this place lives up to the hype.

Josephine | visit
The service was outstanding (seriously! we were obsessed with our waitress) and the food was even better. The brussels sprouts and pretzel bread are a must. They even sent us all home with homemade cookies.

Le Sel | visit
The decor of this restaurant was so beautiful, it didn't feel like we were in the south! The mussels and french onion soup were the favorites at the table, but the bread served before the meal shouldn't be overlooked.

Rolf & Daughters | visit
Thanks to the low humidity on our last night, we were able to eat on the gorgeous patio in front of the restaurant. Their housemade lemonade was perfectly refreshing, but the butternut squash appetizer was even more so. It was crisp and spicy and unexpectedly my favorite dish of the night. Order it, if you go.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream | visit
We were all so excited to try this Nashville staple and weren't disappointed! Their ice cream is made with the best ingredients possible, and you can taste it in every bite. I paired Darkest Chocolate with Black Cat Espresso—a great combo.

Five days wasn't long enough. I can't wait to go back!

(ps. Most of these were recommended by the goop guide. Thanks goop!)

Monday, September 5, 2016

{july and august}


For the July 4th weekend, Dylan flew up to SF and we went to Big Sur! I've wanted to drive down the coast since the day I moved here, so it was a nice little getaway. The weather wasn't ideal—most of the time it was overcast and freezing—but we eventually were given a nice bout of sunshine.

I had a newborn session towards the end of the month - my second ever! Babies are always more nerve-wracking to photograph, but this little girl was a very good model. She and her mother were gorgeous!


This was the month where I became obsessed with the Olympics. I also had a birthday! The big 2 5. My friends and family totally overdid it on the celebrations. I had a cake in SF, cupcakes and a lovely dinner on top of Oklahoma City, a BBQ in Irvine, and then partied with Dylan in LA. We went to Wizarding World of Harry Potter and it made all my Hogwarts dreams come true. I sadly do not have any photos, but don't worry—I did buy a wand.

I also photographed my friend's baby's FIRST birthday at the most perfect Hawaiian party. I felt like I had stepped into a Pinterest board. So fun!

That about wraps up the summer. I'm traveling a bunch for work the next few weeks but it'll be topped off by a trip home!

P.S. I'm about to celebrate my THREE year anniversary living in SF. Crazy. It totally flew by.