Saturday Gear Snapshots: 18-55mm lens || gracious group lens

Rockford, MI, USA

Today I'm starting a three part series on my favorite lenses, and I'm SO EXCITED to be sharing this with y'all!

During my beginning years of photography, the 18-55mm lens was practically my "right hand man." I really liked the manual zoom (which was a change for me since I previously had a little point and shoot camera with an automatic zoom function); I also enjoyed playing around with the manual focus - I had a lot to learn about getting a precisely focused photo, and having this lens in hand provided lots of awesome opportunities to practice.

The 18-55mm lens is a great lens for group shots; it gives me flexibility to quickly take a somewhat further away shot, then zoom to capture up closer.

Everything I like about this lens:

-Flexibility {especially the zoom}
-Made well {confession... I have definitely dropped my 18-55 right on the ground several times, and thankfully it still shoots well. It has survived the woes of painting service projects, overly excited 6 year-olds who suddenly steal cameras ["But Cassie, I want to lean how!!!"],  100 degree churches with a high level of Michigan humidity, deathly falls from the top of the piano, and so much more}
-Those lens caps {Legit life savers! I use them all the time!!}
-The option of auto focus or manual focus {I use both of them}
-Works well for filming {If I'm planning in advance to take a video, this lens will have its place in my camera bag}
-Awesome traveling/vacation lens {The great flexibility of this lens is so wonderfully helpful when I'm traveling; I can often squeeze the whole fam in a photo!}
-Beginner Friendly {this lens was a wonder to learn with! I had never owned my own lens before I had this one, and it was a great place to start}

This lens is not artsy; it's a bit sterile; I do not recommend this one for constant use in regular photo sessions.

-HIGH f stop (aperture) {this lens is NOT your portrait lens; please learn from my mistake - I did not know how important a fixed lens like the 50mm or 35mm were for getting a well blurred background and an overall crystal clear image - so I used this lens for a long time for every single pose. Ahhh, now I look back on those photos and tend to raise my eyebrows and say, "Well, I was just new at this; I had no idea." Those are my "yikes" photos. Don't have yikes photos!}
-Not the best photo session lens {whenever I get ready for a photo shoot, of all my lenses - 50mm, 18-55mm, and 75-300mm - this is the one I would be most likely to leave behind. It does work well, but it doesn't often leave my pictures with the artsy & lovely style I aim to capture in each image. It's kind of plain}
-A bit beginner {this lens was amazing for learning on, but it's functions don't really extend far enough to meet the demand or needs of my photo business, which is why I haven't used this one more than 3 times in the past six months}

The 18-55mm lens is amazing for group shots and other shots that you desire a high f stop for. This is the very first lens I ever shot with, and it continues to be used in my photography business.

Thoughts From a Photo All-Nighter || {written on 12.10.16}

Photography is a lot like football in some ways... You have a goal, and you have to do everything you possibly can to reach it. It's competitive. It requires hard work, late nights, unpaid overtime, problem solving, creativity, diligence, and endurance, endurance, endurance. Like right now... I am 55 photos in editing a session with 753 more to get through this evening {I mean morning}; they've got to be off and in the mail by tomorrow morning. Between then and now, I will (Lord willing) have all of the photos edited, select which ones I want to be black and white, write a card to the clients, sign a copyright release, and, of course, look up my client's address so that we're ready to go when it's time to ship them.

What I don't do during late night editing times:

-Listen to harp music
Though absolutely lovely, I already feel quite tired, and harp music is a bit like sleeping medication when you're exhausted... Don't listening to anything that will make you wayyyy calm down. It's probably time for a good Leonard Ravenhill sermon! He'll keep me awake!

-Lean against anything
Right now I really wish I could just jump in bed and completely forget about all the beautiful photos that await me on my computer - they do constantly call my name - and just sleep. For five whole entire hours... But that may or may not happen, depending on how much time I want to have to finish the large amount of communications homework that's due on Monday. Humm....

-Think about the level of exhaustion I have reached
Sometimes when I am editing, I find myself praying over an over that I would make it. Don't get me wrong, I don't think I'm going to die from over-stressing about the photos or anything like that... I am praying for endurance. I had no idea when I got into photography how important persistence, and overjoyed diligence would be to my business - and only He can supply it. :) I really try not to dwell on how many sessions I have done, as if I deserve a break or something; I try to loose sight of the distractions, and I pray for full focus on Jesus. It's the only way to keep on.

Football requires strategy. Photography requires strategy. When I sat down to start editing, I started going through each pose and deciding which of the shots looks the loveliest. I have broken my editing process down into portions:

~ Find the best photo from each pose, and delete all other pictures.
~ Upload all photos to Photoshop.
~ Check histogram, if necessary, or if any issues are noticed.
~ Use the healing brush to correct any blemishes, marks, scars, lines, lint, dirt, wrinkles (in clothing or face) or distractions (AKA, random pelican in the middle of your photo).
~ Airbrush away under eye circles, redness, bruises, and the like.
~ Run through all the photos, double checking for anything I may have missed while editing.
~ Select which photos to make black & white copies of. Decide between a light, semi-light, dark, and very dark black & white tone for each photo, depending on the white balance, amount of light, kind of lighting, and textural tone.

Sounds slightly complicated, but it really isn't. And no two photographers do every single thing the same way. A well educated photographer incorporates elements of design, the rule of thirds, good control of the camera, posing technique, and good lighting, but other than that, it's really up to the photographer to be creative and find out what will best suit their clients and business. Make every session unique; they chose you to take their photos out of many, many other available photographers. Give them the most wonderful images you possibly can. {And be so totally excited about doing it! Remember this is all for Jesus!}

Post photo editing all-nighter instructions: Be so thankful! You've made it! Maybe you should get a little sleep... But, hey, you're a photographer, and more than likely, you've been up past 3:30 before on this - so it's nothing new. Take a moment so stand in awe of who He is - the Faithful One - who has sustained you through editing each of the photos. Now it's done. Excellence was applied; now rejoice!

Well... It's 2:21... I think that's a perfect, random note to end this blog post on. Trust Jesus, and keep going! :)
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