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Photography can be a ridiculously expensive hobby — but it doesn’t need to be! Here’s what I tell people when they ask for advice.

Set a realistic photography goal.

Before purchasing anything, take some time to think about what you really want to accomplish in photography. Is your ultimate goal to quit your day job and become a professional photographer? Or are you more interested in learning more about the mechanics of photography and shooting on manual? Or… are you really just aiming to take better photos for sharing with friends and family, or on Instagram?

These are just some examples of photography goals — and very different ones, at that. Someone who’s aiming to go pro isn’t going to buy the same camera as someone who only really uses a camera on vacation. So… what kind of photographer do you see yourself being, realistically?

Set a budget.

When someone contacts me and says “I’d like to get a camera. What should I get?” — my first reaction is to ask how much money they’re willing to spend. Under $1,000, or over? Over $5,000? Photo gear adds up, so budgeting is mandatory.

Test equipment before you buy it.

I cannot emphasize this enough. If you’re planning on spending more than $600 on a camera, there’s a good chance you can rent that exact camera for a weekend. Or, if you have a good friend who’s willing to let you play around with a camera they own — do that! Carefully, of course 🙂

I swear by BorrowLenses.com for all camera rentals — whether I need a telephoto for just the weekend, or if I’m testing out an entirely new camera. In fact, every piece of equipment I now own was something I rented or borrowed early in my career!

If you’ve never used BorrowLenses before, use this link to get $20 off your first rental.

Buy used.

With some research, of course. Photography is a fairly old trade — cameras have been around for a long time! My first DSLR was a Nikon D80, which taught me how to be a photographer, and even carried me through a handful of professional jobs. That, in turn, helped me afford a full-frame, more modern DSLR. Going used is a great option, especially for someone on a budget who may or may not jump into photography full time. You’d be surprised how much a piece of gear gets discounted because of a few cosmetic scuffs.

But then again, buying used isn’t for everyone. I’ve personally had a lot of luck with used gear!

Now… on to the fun stuff! Here’s a roundup of photo gear — based on what I own and what I recommend!

Sony Alpha a5000, $450 // Panasonic LUMIX Active Lifestyle (waterproof!), $148

Panasonic DMC-GF7, $391 // Nikon D3300 kit, $447

 

Sony Alpha a5000 Panasonic Lumix Panasonic Waterproof Nikon D3300

Sony a6000, $748 // Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100, $998 (waterproof bundle here)

Leica C, $789 // Fujifilm X-T20, $899

 

 

sony Cybershot Leica Fuji XT20 Sony A6000 kit

Nikon d610 // Nikon 14mm f/2.8
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 // Nikon 50mm f/1.8
ONA Capri // ONA Roma // Fujifilm x100F

Note: all links above are affiliate links. If you’re taking me up on my recommendations for purchasing camera gear, I would greatly appreciate it if you use the links above! 

Nikon d610 Nikon 24-70mm Nikon 14mm Nikon 50mm ONA Capri ONA Roma Fuji x100F

Last summer, I got roped into the organizing crew for Dîner en Blanc, an amazing event that happens on different nights all over the world, where thousands of attendees meet at an undisclosed location for a flash mob, picnic dinner.

This year, the location was so perfect — the Carnegie Library, located right smack in the middle of DC. And, since my assigned meeting point was in Chinatown, the 350 people headed to the location with me didn’t even have to get on the metro. Talk about convenient!

Here are some shots from the night.

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About a year and a half ago, I got really into knitting. And like most things I take up, I did a pretty good amount of research, watched some YouTube videos, and dove right in. Did I start with a cable knit project? You bet I did.

The first few projects were pretty much crap, but I built up my skills and kept challenging myself, with the positive encouragement from friends and coworkers. My favorite feat thus far is a pair of fair isle socks, gifted to Emily because I accidentally made them too skinny for normal people’s calves. But she rocks them. I’m also a big fan of these fingerless mitts I made for those days when the AC is blasting in the office and I can’t feel my fingertips.

The first of my college friends just had her first baby last week, so naturally, I had to knit something for her! This pattern comes from one of my favorite knitting blogs, put together by the staff at Purl Soho in New York (they’re hiring… I had to unsubscribe from their emails because of my feelings about knitting and New York). This baby blanket is shipping off to Charleston this afternoon! Love you, Kels.

Yarn is Blue Sky Alpaca’s worsted cotton in shell.

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I had the pleasure of photographing two of my dear friends getting married a couple of weeks ago at Dewey Beach — and while sweaty, the celebration was absolutely perfect… and probably one of the best parties I’ve ever been to. That bride knows how to break it down on the dance floor, and I’d be lying if I denied any post-fireworks night swimming. We kept the camera safely stored away for that.

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