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  • Rachel Brooks

Photography Glow Up

First of all, H A P P Y S T . P A T R I C K ' S D A Y ! πŸ€ Not sure about you, but I don't have very exciting holiday plans, except the fact that I booked some self-care time with a hair appointment! Super excited to get my dark color and bangs freshened up!

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Today on my blog I wanted to share a little bit about Steven, my husband, and my photography journey. πŸ“Έ I wanted to do this especially because a lot of people have reached out asking about our photo specifics, complimenting our shoots, and just showering us with lots of love about our work. And as much as we appreciate ALL of that and it warms our hearts, we also want people to know that anyone can do this stuff, honestly. ❀ Neither Steven nor I are photographers, have taken a formal photography class, or see ourselves becoming photographers (for the time being 🀣). We're just a husband and a wife with a pretty decent camera experimenting and playing around.

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I started investing more time and effort in my Instagram content around 2018/2019 and of course, Steven was instantly nominated for the role of photographer. πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ Back then we took pictures on our semi-updated smartphones and edited through filters but nothing else. Why I tell you this is because you can seriously learn and grow in anything as long as you care, try, and put the sweat into it.

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Things that helped our pictures go from this πŸ‘‡

To this πŸ‘‡

In 15 months.

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These are some of the things I wish I knew about or had when we took the first picture and tools I use to create our current photographs.

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PHYSICAL TOOLS

  • A Good Camera πŸ“·

  • Obviously, phone cameras have evolved a TON in the last few years, but there are features that a real, authentic camera has that a phone camera is not capable of yet.

  • So, I highly recommend, if you're serious about shooting some good content, or even some nicer photos, invest in a nice-ish Camera. Steven and I were luckily gifted our Sony A6000 for Christmas 2019 from my mother.

  • Linking Below

Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera w/ 16-50mm and 55-210mm Power Zoom Lenses

  • This has transformed our photography BUT it was instantly. Steven has worked hard to figure out its features, abilities, and all the interworkings. (I honestly know very little about actually shooting our photos.) So don't expect a "fancy" camera to do all the work, it will help, but it won't do it all.


  • Box Lights, especially if your shooting in-home content. πŸ’‘

  • Another tool that has been so influential over our image quality. You never realize what good light does for your photos until you start using it (and then really realizing the horrors of not having it when you're out and about.)

  • We received these this past Christmas as another gift from my generous mother and use these every chance we can! We even use them more than our ring light...

  • I love that the box lights are able to completely change a space. They've been super helpful to create images from our apartment while winter is in full swing and shooting outside can be impossible.

  • Linking Below

Neewer 700W Professional Photography 24x24 inches/60x60 Centimeters Softbox with E27 Socket Light Lighting Kit

  • Play around with their placement, and practice. The more you shoot the more you learn.


  • Ring Light πŸ”¦

  • Now for some types of content and niches, this is a necessity, but I didn't have one until this past year.

  • I will preface that we don't use this light source nearly as much as we use the box lights, BUT for close-ups and portraits, it does make a big difference.

  • It is also super helpful when creating real-time content such as stories, lives, reels, etc.

  • Linking A Very Similar One Below

10.2 inch Selfie Ring Light with Tripod Stand & 2 Phone Holders, LETSCOM Dimmable Led Beauty Camera Ringlight for Makeup/Photography/YouTube Videos/Vlog/TIK Tok/Live, Compatible with iPhone & Android

  • I love that this one is able to do a wide range of heights. It makes doing a wide range of photoshoot types relatively easy.


  • Tripod πŸ”Ί

  • When Steven and I started making videos for my YouTube Channel, that's the first time a true necessity came up for our tripod. Until we got a decent one we used a tower of boxes on top of a tray table. It was quite a sight.

  • Since getting our tripod, it's made a few things a lot easier (especially video recording) and I appreciate it much more than I thought I would.

  • We recently bought a camera backpack (BLOG POST REVIEW COMING- as soon as we get to do a photoshoot outside of our home) that has the ability to carry our tripod, so I think because it'll be a lot easier to take with us we will start using this tool even more!

  • Linking Similar Tripod Below

Polaroid 57-Inch Photo/Video Tripod with Deluxe Tripod Carrying Case for Digital Cameras and Camcorders

  • We love this tripod! It's sturdy and simple, perfect for us.

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A FEW STARTER APPS

(Just the beginning of a longer list, for another blog post... I've got to get writing! πŸ™ˆ)

  • Adobe Lightroom (I use both the computer version and the phone app)

  • Now, this is the editing app I've been using the longest, and I'll never get rid of it. I started using Lightroom when I started hearing about "presets" and eventually started purchasing them from Etsy. But beyond Presets, Lightroom is an all-in-one photo editor and the best of its kind, in my opinion.

  • I will be the first to tell you, I'm a fan of presets. Some people are not, but I use presets on every picture because I believe they can elevate photography to a new level. Especially for newbies like myself. They also help your photography keep a consistent style.

  • Now, since I've been using Lightroom for some time, I no longer purchase presets and instead make my own. (I'll do a blog post in the very near future about presets because I could go on for hours just on this FANTASTIC feature).

  • Lightroom is the VERY first editing app I put my photos through after I download them from our camera.

  • Also, the desktop version has a fantastic tool if you like changing your photo's background colors.


  • Retouch

  • This has been a game-changer for my photos. Want a garbage-can taken out of a photo? Want that hair that is giving you Alfalfa vibes removed? Or you simply need to smooth out your background. This is your app.

  • It is a small cost to download, but it is worth far more than the two dollars I think I paid.

  • The app is super easy to use and will really help take your photos to the next level.

  • I'm still shocked at how good of a job it does for a phone app.


  • PicsArt

  • This is my most recent app download and so far I'm loving it and I know I haven't even scratched the surface of the cool things this editing tool can do.

  • I got this app after researching photoshoot ideas and saw that a lot of creators were using PicsArt to add fun and creative elements to their photos.

  • So I had to try it out!

  • Among so many unique features, my favorite things thus far are the stickers and eraser tool (which are really cool to play around with and add to your photos) and the ability to layer other photos from your camera roll.

  • My St. Patrick's Photo was created by adding a rainbow sticker I liked, using the eraser tool so the rainbow looked like it was behind me. Then I took just the cloud part of that rainbow photo and duplicated it around me, again erasing to create the effect.

  • I think this is an app I'll be using a lot going into the future.

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Like I said before though, you can do this. Anyone can. Steven and I were not born with photography or editing talent and we did produce photos like this overnight.

And with the tools above you can make huge strides in your photo creation skills. But they are not everything. Behind those resources we have...

- Shot a lot of photos. I think in 2020 alone we shot something like 25,000. And in the first almost 3 months of 2021, something like 10,000.

- Spent a lot of hours editing photos (probably 5 hours for a single shoot day of content, if not more.) Beyond that taking inspiration from the creators around me in how I was editing my photos. My style has REALLY changed in the last 8 months or so and I'm proud of where I've gotten on a few "How-To" Guides, Free Webinars, and Self Teaching.

- Scrolled through Pinterest many evenings looking for pose ideas, shoot inspiration, outfit choices. Taking those ideas and spinning them into my own has been one of the most enjoyable processes since starting to create content.

- Steven has played with our camera and equipment SO MUCH, I'd be lost without him. Like I joke that everyone gives him all the credit for how our photos turn out and I get none, but he does deserve a lot of admiration. From concept to set up, I'm the brains. Once we start shooting though, it's Steven's game. He's the one adjusting lights, playing with camera settings, trying to get me the best shot possible. After so many shoots, Steven has a pretty good idea of what I'm usually going for, so if I just give him the general gist he goes from there.

- But the more we do, the more we learn, the easier it gets! AND the more fun it becomes!

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I hope these tools work for you and help you get a running start on your journey to creating amazing photos. Steven and I are so excited to grow as "photographers" and share all of our tips and tricks with you all. πŸ’ž

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Are there any other photo tools you recommend that will help take your content from okay to YAS! ? Drop a comment and let me know!

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Enjoy your day!

-Rachel

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