Smart Straps & Gear Bags by Anna Buller

My bag and strap were not things that I'd put a lot of thought into when I needed to buy them. If they could carry my camera, and fit all my gear, I wasn't really concerned with much else. That really changed for me when one morning I woke up, and literally could not get out of bed on my own. I couldn't move, and my neck and shoulder were in severe pain. The sad part is, even then I knew it was only a matter of time before something like this happened. In todays post, read about how you can prevent this, and save yourself a trip to the doctor!

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Studio Lighting on a Budget by Anna Buller

Photography is not a cheap profession, and all photographers know that you have to invest a good chunk of money for quality equipment. With that said, it should be known that there are less expensive alternatives out there if you're willing to get creative.

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Studio Gear: What I Use, and Why by Anna Buller

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Hey everyone, welcome back to the blog! Today I'll be sharing with you the specific gear I use, and why I use it. There is so much out there to choose from, and depending on the style and look that you're going for, you'll need different types of gear to accomplish that.

When I'm shooting, my focus is usually on the subjects face, so I need to make sure my subject looks "true to life" (aka: not distorted by a wide angle lens, which is just my preference), and the lighting is soft and flattering. I also like to make sure that the color background I'm using is either complimentary to my subjects skin tone, or their clothing. Everything matters! 

To get started, let's go over camera and lenses. My first camera was a Canon Rebel T1i so, naturally, that's the brand I stuck with when I upgraded. People always ask: "Which is better, Canon or Nikon?" I've shot with both, and I've found no major difference aside from the bodies themselves, RAW image tones, and the screens. I personally prefer Canon because the RAW image tones have more reds and magentas, as opposed to Nikon's greens and blues. I notice that images show up sharper on my Canon screen than images I've seen on a Nikon screen as well. With that said though, I admire a lot of photographers that use Nikon and the camera doesn't determine how good your image will turn out. It's the person behind it. 

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When I finally upgraded, I chose the Canon EOS 6D. Not a very popular choice, as almost every professional Canon photographer uses a 5D, but my 6D suits my needs perfectly! One thing I really love about it is that it's more lightweight than other full frame cameras. 

 

For my lenses, I've been using all primes for years, and only just now considering purchasing a zoom lens! All of the lenses below I use in the studio, each for different reasons:

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The first on the list, and my personal favorite, is the Sigma 50mm 1.4 Art lens. Perfect for pretty much everything, amazing quality, and very sturdy. I rarely take this lens off my camera. It's perfect for everything from full body shots, half body, or shots from the elbows up. Any closer, and your subject will start to look distorted. 



Lens number two is the 85mm 1.8. This lens is ideal for those close up shots, and I use it mostly for head shots, beauty shoots, or when getting details on the face/makeup. No need to worry about having a distorted image when using this lens, as it's the one that creates an image that is the most "true to life" like I'd mentioned before. I love using this lens outdoors too because the bokeh is so creamy when shooting at f/1.8-2.0!


The last lens on this list is not actually one that I would recommend. It is the 35mm 2.0 (old model). I only use it when absolutely necessary, usually when I'm in a tight space and need to get a full body shot. This lens will absolutely give you a distorted image. Luckily though, that can be fixed in post if that's not what you want. If you're looking into getting a 35mm, I would suggest Sigma, or the L series for Canon users.

For my lenses, I also use ND filters in the studio. These help block out some of the light, allowing me to shoot at a lower aperture. The darker the filter, the lower your aperture can go. The ones linked are 77mm, which fit on my Sigma 50mm 1.4, but you can find them in all sizes for your lenses (check the inside of your lens cap for the mm size you'll need)!

Now that we have the camera basics out of the way we can move onto the fun part, which also happens to be my favorite: lighting! What I'll be listing is not necessarily what all photographers might want to use, because all photographers have a different style and different needs. The good thing about my set-up though, is that it's very basic and is perfect for anyone getting started in the studio, because I only use one light. That's right, just ONE. Most people starting out think that when they need to buy studio gear, they need a ton of lights and the space for it, but that couldn't be less true. It is so easy to start small, and add more later if needed. Let's get into it!

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First we'll start with the lights themselves. I use the Elinchrom BRX 500 Monolight. These strobes have been perfect for me, and are very user friendly. This is an older model and I've had mine for a long time, but Elinchrom is a great brand and has tons of new and up to date equipment out. My favorite thing about this strobe is the built-in EL-Skyport receiver for triggering. This means you won't need to hook up any receivers to the strobe. Just pop the trigger on your camera, and you're good to go!

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This is the trigger that comes with the Elinchrom light. The trigger is what sends the signals to the strobe to flash when you hit the shutter button. As far as I am aware, Elinchrom is the only brand that will have a trigger come with the strobe. If you go with another brand you'll probably need to purchase a separate trigger. The most popular brand for that is PocketWizard. I've used those in the past and have never had problems with them!

 

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This next item is, in my opinion, the most important piece in my gear collection. The modifier that you choose for your strobe is what determines how soft or hard the light is on your subject. This is a Photek SoftLighter umbrella, and I use the 60". This umbrella is perfect for me since I love my light to be really soft. Once mounted, the light from the strobe bounces into the umbrella, and then back out through the diffuser, creating a double diffusion, and the width of the umbrella allows the light to spread out even more than a smaller umbrella would. You'll get some beautiful soft light and shadows, and I will never go back to a softbox after using this! 

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Lastly, you'll just need the stand to put everything on! I use one similar to this Cowboy Studio stand. It doesn't need to be anything extravagant, you just want to make sure that it's sturdy enough to hold your light and modifier without toppling over. If you purchase one that might seem too flimsy, you can always get a few sandbangs to hold the stand down. 

 

 

 

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One more thing! I almost always use a fan during shoots as well. I use this white pedestal fan, which you can adjust to different heights, and it has 3 speeds. Having it blow some hair around on your subject just adds a little extra movement and interest to the image. 

 

 

 

 

For reference, here are a few of my own images that I've shot using this lighting set-up:

Now, once you have all your lighting, you'll probably want to start looking into getting some backdrops. I always use seamless paper backdrops, and I get those from Backdrop Express. They have tons of colors to choose from and you can also get them in different sizes, which is perfect for someone (like myself) who is in a tight space and could use a backdrop that is not 9 feet long. You can also get backdrop stands and other miscellaneous items on their site as well, so check them out! 

So now that you know all about the tools I use for my shoots, you're probably thinking "well that's great, but this is too expensive for me," and yeah, it's definitely not cheap once you total everything up. But, there are less pricey alternatives to all of the products I've listed today, and I'll be sharing them in my next blog post, PLUS a full studio shoot using a budget friendly set-up! Don't think you can't shoot studio just because you can't afford the top notch equipment. In fact, you may even have one or two of these things in your bag already...! Stay tuned for that!

I hope this post was helpful for anyone who has been interested in what goes into each studio image. I get questions all the time about it, and I'm always happy to answer! So, if there is something you may have more questions about, feel free to shoot me a message, or leave a comment! Thanks again for following along!

Until next time,
Anna xxx

Introductions... by Anna Buller

 

Hey everyone!


I want to start off by saying this: I am not a writer. I had never even considered a photography blog until a few months ago. I was meeting with a new photography friend at a coffee shop talking all things photography, the business, and studio work. I get a lot of questions about my studio work, or people just saying how much they like it (every compliment is still so reassuring to me). As I was packing up my things to leave, my friend asked if I'd ever considered starting a blog on studio photography. Immediately, wheels started turning. I told her I hadn't, but that it might be something good to think about. I know when I started learning photography, it was very challenging. If I would've had someone just show me how it was done, I would've saved tons of money (seriously, so much money y'all), time, and frustration. So...here we are! 

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Again, I am no writer, so I'm just going to type all this out the way I would say it in person. Hopefully my words make me seem way cooler though. *finger guns* ;) (yes, it's already awkward).

I wanted to start the very first blog post with introductions! So, here is a little about me: My name is Anna Buller, and as you probably know, I am a photographer. I am 24 and currently living in Lake Charles, Louisiana. I have a small business (Studio Underground) that I co-own, so photography is my full time job. Aside from my job, other things I love are editing days in coffee shops, fashion magazines, reading, road trips, fresh flowers, monkeys, all the vegan foods, TARGET, and vanilla scented everything. Just to name a few.  

I got into photography when I was 13, and since I was in high school with no photography program, I had to try and learn everything on my own. At least until college, I thought. I slowly learned the photography basics and lighting from other photographers that I found online who inspired me. I constantly experimented with camera settings and light studies (natural light at first) after school and on weekends. I still had to figure out my style and get all the equipment to properly utilize what I was learning, but I was able to point myself in the direction I wanted, thanks to all those photographers who had no idea that they were laying the foundation for all the things I know now. Since then, the studio has become a second home to me. Now that I'm comfortable in what I'm creating and know my technique like the back of my hand, it has been an environment that I really, really love to work in. 

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I find my biggest inspiration in faces and fashion. When I was younger, my favorite magazine to flip through was Interview Magazine (still one of my favorites). I didn't read much of the interviews, but I did rip out way too many pages of my favorite photographs and store them in an overstuffed folder I kept in my closet. I would come back to that folder when I could to study the images - looking at things like posing, lighting, mood, etc. I am a visual learner, and doing that helped me figure out the style that I like, and what I wanted to create on my own. Fashion is what really inspired me the most. Nothing else seemed to catch my eye like the texture on a gown, or the expression and attitude a model could deliver to a camera. I admire this industry and am thrilled to be a part of it.
I say all of this because that is the type of work that readers will mostly be seeing from me on my blog in the future.

Now, 11 years later, I finally feel like I have it all down. I know what I want when I walk into the studio or on a location and I know how to achieve it. So even if there are only 2 people who end up reading these posts, I'm okay with that. The fact that I had so many people who seemed interested in this when I put the poll on my Instagram story was exciting enough! Hopefully those reading will soon feel the same way I do when I'm preparing for a shoot.

In these blog posts I'll be sharing information that I know and learned myself, usually by trial-and-error - this doesn't necessarily mean that the way I do things is the right way, it's just the way I learned how to do them. I'll also be sharing new techniques that I learn along the way, because that's the beauty of photography: you can never stop learning!
Although my blog will be very focused on studio work, I do plan on sharing information from every aspect of my photography life - whether it's from a shoot, the business side of things, products/gear, or something fun and unexpected, I want to cover it all!

Okay, so now that y'all know a little bit about who I am, tell me something about yourself/your photography in the comments, or feel free to email me! I would love to hear from those reading. And if you're interested in what's coming up in future posts,  I will be posting bi-weekly! My next post will be about one of the most important aspects of photography...gear! You'll see the tools I use, and where you can find them!

Until next time,
Anna xxx

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