Photography Tools and Gear we Use

Just starting out on your photography journey or looking to upgrade your gear? You’ve come to the right blog post. First I’m just going to share a little bit about our blogging journey.

Luke and I have been bloggers officially for just over two years now and we started out very green with not much knowledge about:

  • how to make money,
  • what programs to use,
  • the right website platform to choose,
  • the type of content that attracts viewers
  • how to get into the right niche.

To be a blogger you need a variety of these skills.

We had to research and develop even more skills from:

  • WordPress editing,
  • basic coding,
  • SEO,
  • branding,
  • copywriting,
  • advertising,
  • social media growth,
  • you name it, we researched it.

Some areas and work we share, others we divide and conquer.

I LOVE PHOTOGRAPHY | It’s been a long journey towards making it a career

The area that I have personally LOVED since the beginning is photography,  editing, and visual content creation.  

I’ve been a big fan of photography for years ever since I got my first SLR camera the Canon T2i back in 2009. As the years progressed I’ve found a way to make this passion into a career! I do this through product photography, real estate marketing photography and now blogging.

As a blogger and someone who makes money online for my content and visuals.

I’m a firm believer that if you are being paid for such content then it’s important to provide a high-quality final product.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to have the fanciest and most expensive camera and equipment. You should, however, work on figuring out how to optimize the equipment you do have to produce GOOD content.

To date, Luke and I have probably invested about $10,000 into our blogging and personal branded business. Things like:

  • Camera equipment (upgrading along the way),
  • Props,
  • Clothing,
  • Software programs,
  • Advertising,
  • Supplies etc.

That’s not a standard amount for blogger business investment by any means. I would recommend creating a budget for your business if you want to take it to the next level.

Now, you may be reading this for a few different reasons.

  • Perhaps you’re just curious about what we use and are just peeking in.
  • OR, perhaps you’re interested in upgrading your current equipment.
  • Perhaps you’re like us starting off two years ago and don’t know much about what equipment is needed to start blogging.

In any case, I’ve listed what we use, why we chose each item, the programs I use for editing and some product alternatives in case you don’t have the budget for the products we have.

Let’s dive in!

This post contains affiliate links.

PHOTOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT

CAMERA | CANON 5D MARK IV

Picture of Canon 5D Mark IV - Great for Lifestyle Photography
This camera was one I have been dreaming of buying since I started as a blogger and we finally took the plunge and bought it last year, and it is UNREAL. We had a Canon 6D before this one which was also a pretty great camera and a cheaper full-frame option (with wifi which is an important feature especially for blogging), but I wanted to start making some higher quality videos and needed a camera that could do great photography and video and I landed on this one. It is quite the investment but worth it for us.

If you don’t have the budget to invest in something like this, then I’d suggest some of the options below. One thing we wanted to make sure we had in a camera was wifi so that we had the ability to control the shoot from our phone in case we needed to take a shot together off the tripod or if I was shooting alone. It makes it SO much easier than timing it and running back and forth from the tripod.

 

PHOTOGRAPHY LENS | SIGMA 50mm F1.4 ART

50mm 1.4 Lens from Sigma - My favorite lens for portrait photography

This lens has been rated and reviewed as one of the BEST and most crisp lenses out there and I can say it is my all-time favorite lens. We invested in it out two years ago when we had our Canon 6d and I think it would do an incredible job on most camera bodies just because of how sharp and high quality the lens is. I personally like to use this lens as much as I can because of course how crisp the image is but also because it can get to an F-stop of 1.4 which gives that gorgeous blur effect.

50mm prime lenses (also known as a nifty fifty) are perfect for fashion and portrait or product photography. I use mine because I LOVE this lens, but I usually gear it more for fashion photography.

There are plenty of other cheaper 50 mm lens, but this one is the best!

PHOTOGRAPHY LENSTAMRON 24-70mm F2.8 


We only have two lenses at the moment mainly because we were traveling and have been very transient for the past few years and wanted to stay as minimal as possible, and to be honest, we really aren’t looking to add anymore either. These two do it all for us.

When we were deciding on which one to get we landed on wanting to have a strong super sharp prime lens which we have in the Sigma 50mm above, but we then wanted to have a great versatile zoom lens that could be used for everyday use in both photography and video. We ended up landing on the 24-70mm lens because it was the best range for everyday use and great to have as an alternative to a prime lens like the 50mm.

There are a lot of different options of 24-70mm lenses and one feature we really loved on this lens that wasn’t on the others (even the more expensive ones) is that it has Image Stabilization. This is particularly good if you are going to be shooting video as it helps to stabilize the video A LOT better than when you use a lens like the 50mm Sigma which doesn’t have IS.

They did come out with a 2nd generation version of this lens which improves on the image quality a bit I believe, but it is a bit higher priced. Below is a list of some other options and if you’re looking for a good all-around zoom lens, I’d highly recommend looking to get a 24-70mm.

TRIPOD |  K&F CONCEPT CAMERA TRIPOD

K&F Tripod for Photography
This tripod is one of our newest purchases and we are really pleased with it so far. Luke was the one that actually researched and found it and we both really love how easy it is to use, compact, and lightweight while still being super high quality and still decently priced. It comes with a little carrying bag which is handy for travel or taking it outdoors.  Below are some other alternatives.

TRIPODJOBY GORILLAPOD 5K KIT

Joby GorillaPod for Photography
I bought this for our travels in 2017 as an alternative to the traditional tripod. I had watched a ton of reviews from photographers who swore by it, so I bought the biggest/strongest one they had that can hold the weight of our camera (since it weighs quite a bit).

It was helpful on the road and we did end up using it when we wanted to take shots with both of us in it. What I like about it most though, is that you can use it in unique places that a tripod can’t really fit because it wraps around objects and the grip is really strong.

Make sure that you get the right size/strength for your camera since each Gorillapod is designed to hold a certain amount of weight and our camera & lens kit ended up being in the heavier category. It’s also really useful to use for vlogging as well since you can just hold it and mold the legs however you please. Below are some other options for this type of tripod.

EXTRA PHOTOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT 

CASEHARD CAMERA CASE BAG

Camera Case for Photography

This bag we chose to get because we’re not the biggest fans of traditional camera bags. We often plan our shoots and take only the lens we want to shoot with and an extra battery. This case makes it easy to grab and go and even throw in a larger backpack. I love it and recommend grabbing one like this that fits your camera if you don’t like bulky camera bags or backpacks.

IPHONE TRIPOD MOUNT

Cheap Iphone Tripod Mount

I just bought this recently to use for some iPhone videos I’m going to be creating. It’s nice because it attaches to any tripod and it eliminates the need to buy a specific iPhone tripod /selfie stick. I’m not sure how much I will use it but it comes with a little remote you sync up with your phone, which is also handy to control your shots and video if you’re alone.

ELECTRONICS CASE 

We have a couple of these types of cases, and they are helpful for keeping your electronics and cords organized.

One specifically is for our two extra camera batteries and USB cord. WE also have a separate one to carry my external hard drive in. I like this one because of the clip and I use it to attach to our camera case bag when we are traveling.

CAMERA BATTERIES: I would recommend buying at least one if not two back up batteries for your camera.

In most cases, your camera will come with one battery and a charger. It’s also important to have backups since they can die quickly and if you’re shooting in raw or video, battery life gets eaten up very fast. You don’t technically need a name brand battery (for example all Canon batteries) just the style of battery that your camera uses.

You can get the information either by googling your camera model or just looking at the bottom of your camera battery. We have three batteries in total and use all of them.

EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE
Affordable External Hard Drive

I have a couple of these hard drives, one in particular that I use to store all my pictures and videos after editing. I shoot my pictures in raw format so the files are pretty large and I don’t like to delete the original files once edited. This way I can store everything off my computer as a backup and it frees up space on my computer so it doesn’t slow it down. I also store my edited pictures on my google drive as well which allows for easy cloud access and sharing.

STUDIO LIGHTING

Photography Studio Lighting Kit

We’ve gone through a few lighting kits over the years and only really use them when shooting indoors for product photography. If you are someone who does fashion styling or takes shots indoors for product or vlogging, I’d definitely recommend getting some sort of lighting kit.

This is one we have which we’ve found works well. I would suggest getting at least two stands, so you can angle the lighting on each side of your subject (it prevents less shadow), and also to get one that has a four-socket light holder like this one.

The four-socket provides four bulbs per stand vs some that only have one bulb, and we’ve tried both and it’s just not worth paying for a kit that only has one bulb socket even if it is cheaper. The light just isn’t bright enough. You can also save a bit of money and get a kit that doesn’t come with the bulbs, and just pick up some LED or fluorescent light bulbs from a local hardware store. It’s not as white and bright as the studio bulbs are, but they are cheaper and it works.

EXTERNAL FLASH

Flash Photography

I’m not a huge fan of flash photography because I really love naturally lit subjects and outdoor photography myself.

There is a need for it, especially if you’re indoors, or shooting at night.

That being said, if you are deciding between lighting and an external flash, I personally would choose a lighting kit. The reason being it can produce more natural-looking pictures.

This is one I have and it works nicely and gets the job done.

ADDITIONAL NOTEWORTHY PRODUCTS 

MACBOOK PRO

I’ve had my Macbook pro for five years and it does a great job with editing my pictures and video.  The model is a bit outdated, but Luke increased the RAM and a few other things to make it more powerful and it still outshines the specs of any current, lower-end MacBook Pro or MacBook Air so I’m still happy with it. MacBook Pros are definitely a better choice for editing photos and video on than a MacBook Air from what I’ve heard.

PHOTOGRAPHY & VIDEOGRAPHY EDITING SOFTWARE & PROGRAMS

blogger tools adobe sutton and groveI pretty much exclusively use ADOBE CREATIVE CLOUD programs for editing my photos and video and do everything on my computer (with the exception of the odd photo or IG story compilation). These are helpful programs if you are currently or are working on becoming a blogger.

You can buy a subscription for either individual programs, packages or their whole range of apps which is what I have access to. It’s a yearly or monthly subscription and it’s actually worth the cost than buying the programs each year as they upgrade, like they used to do.  The main programs I use are:

ADOBE PHOTOSHOP

I use this program for some photo editing, but mostly to create graphics that have imagery on it. You can do a lot in this program and it used to be my go-to program.  When I  started needing to edit pictures in bulk I switched to Lightroom.

ADOBE LIGHTROOM CLASSIC

This is my number one program used almost daily. It’s the best program to edit bulk amounts of photos, create presets in and also organize your photos for export.

Adobe Lightroom takes some getting used to as there are so many features!

Adjustments can be made to create a unique look that can be copied and pasted onto all your photos. You can also make LUTS for video editing which is a specific, unique filter for your video.

Check out my presets >> PRESETS

ADOBE ILLUSTRATOR 

This program is great for all things graphic design.

You can really do a lot with this program, I use it to:

  • Make logos,
  • symbols,
  • manipulate text,
  • layout designs,
  • vector icons.
  • etc.

This is a helpful program if you are doing web design and you want to have unique button icons. You could also use Illustrator to create some icons for your Instagram highlights.

ADOBE INDESIGN

If you’re wanting to create a multi-page layout magazine, book, e-book this program is the one to use. It takes a while to get the hang of, but the capability for page layout and design is incredible. I worked a lot with this program in my last job making marketing booklets.

ADOBE PREMIERE PRO 

This is the program I use when I edit my videos. I love it mainly because I love adobe programs and they all work together quite well. There are a ton of youtube videos that can show you how to use it to its greatest capacity. You can produce way higher quality videos with way better editing and styling options.

We have a Youtube channel and I’ve listed below some videos I’ve made using Premiere Pro that is up on there.

*  Casual Chic Streetwear Outfit Ideas | How to Style 4 Thrifted Jackets

–  HOW TO | DIY Distressed/Ripped Jeans Tutorial 

*  Making the Bed with Sol ORGANICS | Fair Trade Organic Cotton Sheets

ADOBE ACROBAT

This program I use on and off when I need to edit a pdf or sign a contract etc. It’s got great editing capability for pdfs and I really like how easy and straight forward it is to use.

That’s it!

I am always learning, growing and upgrading our skills and equipment! So far this is what has worked and for myself with editing and we’re quite happy with it. If you have any questions or thoughts about anything do let me know in the comments.

@JILLEMATTHEWS

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Photography Equipment by Sutton and Grove