Photography Tip Series- Beginner Photography Essentials

We all start out with any new hobby or passion curious to try all of the things we think we need, and usually end up wasting money on things that are only collecting dust. I definitely have my share of things I swear I would need and yet.. they're in a closet. We see veterans in their field with new gadgets thinking that’s what we need to be better! So i’m starting a new series of photography tips. My most asked questions are about equipment. If you’re a beginner photographer or even just want some basics to photograph your kids and family or maybe even food for Instagram here are a few tips and pointers. Four beginner photography essentials. 

So you have your camera, some compact flash or SD cards and now curious what else are some necessaties for beginning to photograph kids or even posts for social media. Here's are 4 things I think are essential! 


beginner photography essentials

1- 50mm 1.8 lens. I can’t ever in good conscious recommend the kit lenses that come with your camera, although you’ll need SOMETHING to start. a great inexpensive lens is the 50mm 1.8 no matter if you’re canon or Nikon. They’re under $200and i know plenty of professional photographers that still use that lens and love it! I still use mine too. (i won’t recommend the more expensive lenses in this post and scare you, let’s stick with beginners! but if you have more detailed questions, feel free to ask me by emailing me) this is a prime lens so it doesn’t zoom in… you can zoom in or out though.. just back up or get closer ;) it’s a nice wide aperture great for portraits and allows you to shoot in lower light with a little bit faster shutter speed. it also will give you that soft background and crisp foreground you've been wanting. so if at all possible.. get away from those kit lenses. 

** extra tip. kit lenses are those ones that say something like 18-55mm 3.5-5.6 (that 3.5-5.6 means it will change automatically on it's own when you zoom in, you have less control over it.) so rather than spending money on these types of lenses, start saving up for lenses that you'll want to keep forever. the 50mm is most bang for your buck and a great way to get into fixed F stop lenses.

2- Reflector- 5 way reflector. It’s under $20 and i bring mine to every shoot even if i don’t end up using it. I can use it indoors and out to reflect light back in their eyes, unzip to have it diffuse light or even use it to block sun. a great tool that can be used to add some extra light without the expense of a flash. 

**don't use that flash that's already on your camera, ever if possible.

3-foam core or wall- you can purchase those cheap little white foam core or if you want to add a full wall head over to Lowe’s and get the 6 foot foam core to bounce light. These are great tools to use when you set any subject near a window and near more light bounced back.

4-Camera lens cloth. Aside from cleaning the actually lenses of dirt, dust, and fingerprints. These are great for cleaning the contacts (where the lens meets the camera body) I still have to send my equipment in to Nikon sometimes but just taking care of those pieces helps with these cloths.


I added in the links on amazon so you can purchase these items easily! the items are also shown below so you can see the price from my website before clicking. I hope this info helps you with your first few equipment purchases! 



Keep Shining

Shanna Star

5 Year anniversary Photographs with Sam and Bob- Cloudcroft, New Mexico

What i realized doing this shoot. Anniversary photos are a wonderful way to celebrate. Yes we all love gifts, and sometimes the thought of getting our photograph taken... an immediate “i’m not good enough.. no.” But watching these two interact again made me love anniversary photos even more. 

what’s different after 5, 10, or more years.. we already had wedding photos. First, we change!-  like our hair, style etc. But what’s more is how we show love. Kisses on the head, how we hold hands, we become more comfortable because we go through hardships and new experiences. we hold one another differently and pick on each other in a new way because communication changes. 

Even when we feel like maybe it won’t be as romantic as wedding photos.. it’ll be real. More photographs to use for Christmas cards, and to print for home. Plus, what’s a better gift than something we can keep but spend time being close in the process?

virginia couples portraits hampton
hampton virginia couples photography
beautiful outdoors anniversary photography
cute couple in the woods engagement
engagement photographer hampton virginia
beautiful cloudcroft engaged photography
engagement kisses in the forest
gorgeous portraits in the forest engaged
big smiles and how to get people to smile in photos
langley AFB photographer
beautiful engaged portraits
laying in the grass unique couples poses
kiss between an anniversary couple
cute photographs in the forest for virginia engagement


Keep Shining

- Shanna Star

A Beautiful wedding at Mabel Tainter Theater Menomonie, Wisconsin

Happy wednesday! i'm so excited to share this flawless wedding at the Mabel Tainter Theater in Menomonie, Wisconsin. Just a few short months ago i had the pleasure capturing Josh and Marla's engagement photos in Minneapolis Minnesota. I love engagement photo sessions, the first time i usually get to see the couple interact and to hear about their big day, and hear all about their relationship and how they met!  i couldn't wait for their wedding day! get ready for a seriously breathtaking venue with so much character! 

Marla was one of my first roommates in college, and i knew i'd just lose it as she walked down the aisle. she taught me so much. She radiates joy and beauty and i was honored she asked me to photograph their big day. From college, she had the song "Moon River" as her ring tone and would sing it loud and proud! her love for classic pieces was easily seen in her wedding day! she walked down the aisle to Moon River.. and it was too much. i cried behind the camera.. shh. 


Josh and Marla have such a beautiful love. Respect, friendship, and goofiness. they're always having fun together and every part of their day really reflected it. Mabel Tainter Theater is such a lovely historic building. on the main floor was the ceremony and later where the speeches and garter toss took place. the bottom floor and balcony is where drinks and dinner was served. it was such a different and fun atmosphere, and you really didn't need a lot of decor, the building took care of all the details! i adore when couples find unique spaces for a wedding, something that they'll remember forever! 


the first look took place in what later was the photo booth room. They had a few moments together and a few tears flowed. Marla gave josh a gift, one was a book that she wrote her own words in as well. 


The whole group was SO much fun! the men even showed off their own poses and had fun things they wanted to try!


if you didn't know- we had a small contest on fb to see who won the men or woman for the photo above. I'm sorry to say ladies, they men won this time. but keep practicing. you have some good facial expressions! 


Here we are in front of the building! wowza!


here's one where the group got to decide their poses. i'm always a fan of the jumping. so i approve! 


The beautiful bride walking down! 


i have never seen the unity painting they did, and i think it's such a neat idea! so take note! instead of the unity candle, the pastor started off by painting a little on a canvas, representing God in their marriage. then each of them took a turn to add to the canvas. it showed how many lines intertwined and but there were still independent. i thought it was such a special way to represent becoming one. 


One of my favorite ceremonies to shoot, so many new places to capture the moments! 

dessert-wedding-mabel tainter theater

There were so many perfect moments, i wish i could post all the photographs! and the floral. i can't go on enough about the details they had. The coordinator from the Mabel Tainter Theater is also a Florist and she did the arrangements! aren't they stunning!? 

Don't forget to leave some love below! 

Marla & Josh- i want to thank you again for letting me capture and be a part of your day. it meant so much that i could be there and celebrate. congratulations! 

family and friends of marla and josh: if you're interested in purchasing and seeing all the wedding photos, they have a link they can share that will bring the photos right to your home! 

Hair and Makeup- Estilo Aveda Salon

floral arrangements-Jennifer Joyce Design

Ceremony/reception location- Mabel Tainter Theater, Menomonie, WI

Wedding Rings- Tiffany & Co. 


5 things i learned relocating my photography business

5 things i learned relocating my photography business

Relocating a photography business is a scary new experience, but it can be a great one! 

i only partly knew what i was getting myself into when i married someone in the Air Force.  i knew we'd be moving, but there is constantly something new i'm learning. i had my first military move this summer, and i got to do it mostly alone since brandon was out of town.. yikes was i grumpy, and on top i was worried how relocation of Davista Photography and visiting Las Vegas and Minnesota would come in to play. Especially with our move to middle of nowhere New Mexico. 

learning some fantastic locations in New Mexico!

learning some fantastic locations in New Mexico!

It's been such a learning experience, getting my license in a state where i wasn't able to rely on other photographers that had been through it, to finding places to plug-in and find new friends right away. Here's 5 things i learned already from relocating my photography business and how to prepare. 

1-  Blog and announce your move. Not everyone will see this, so i've made a few announcements on my blog and facebook, and always try to let clients know when i'll be back in town! an email monthly or even every couple of months can be a huge help! 

2- Become a vendor at an event, or advertise there! Before i even made the move, i jumped in to all of the wives pages on Facebook and started searching for different ways i could advertise. I participated in a wonderful Christmas Bazaar in November, my first event while here, and it was such a great experience! I got a couple clients, met some wonderful women and other vendors too! It doesn't have to be a wedding event, or even expensive to get into. find ones that fit your advertising budget; it's tough to find but search a little and you're bound to find something! 


3-Get to know other women and their businesses. I haven't attended many events, but going to a women's get-together can always be a help, even if you don't get to talk business for a while. be a good listener, find out about other in-home businesses, not only a time to find people to work with, but some friends too!


4-Don't forget about where you moved from! I've been including several Vegas and Minnesota in my yearly trips so i can see friends and photograph those wonderful clients again. This is where those emails come in handy so clients who are interested can find out first hand.

my beautiful best friend getting married last year!

my beautiful best friend getting married last year!

my hot friend again. a little time together :)

my hot friend again. a little time together :)

5-Take some time to re-do your online presence. Luckily i was re-doing my entire website so working on my SEO and changing my location on each of the social media outlets went hand-in-hand. 

For such a long time in Vegas, i was relying on friend photographers for knowledge when i was stumped. (Don't get me wrong, we still talk photography all the time) but the biggest thing i learned is; how to go and find all the information on my own again and find some new fantastic friends in the process! In the past 4 months since the move, i've grown and learned so much and am thankful for these experiences. I never could have imagined that i would embrace change in 2010 with my first move from my home state. 


Shootdotedit came out with a wonderful article "How to start a photography business" a great way to dig into the ins and outs of a successful business! check it out!