cortnie dee photography | blog

shopping for your photographer-friend.

At least once a year, I get the text: "My _______ is getting into photography! What should I get them?"

This is a very broad question, so I want to break it down into smaller answers. Does your person need a camera? A lens? Some accessories? Quirky camera-related-but-not-an-actual-camera gifts?

Let's jump into some of my suggestions for the photographers in your life.

UNDER $100

  • Oh! Wow. Ring light (Photojojo, $99) - This was one of my first flash setups. It's not great for weddings which I quickly learned, but it IS great for casual portraits where you need just a bit more light! 
  • GOgroove Full Sized Camera Backpack (Amazon, $70) - This is the backpack I'm currently using and I LOVE IT. I have had the "designer camera bags" and I can wholeheartedly say this backpack is a steal. Lots of compartments and pockets for everything I need and then some.
  • Canon Camera Lens Mug (Photojojo, $24-30) - I love my lens mugs. I own two and they're both identical (to be fair, one was a gift) and they are both Canon replicas. But if you're wanting Nikon, I guess you could buy one of those on Photojojo too... (note: the Canon/Nikon war is silly but I have only ever had Canon-everything so I just have a bias. No reason. Just what I know.)
  • Gift cards. I know this is a lame suggestion, but seriously. I recently received a $100 gift card as a tip and it immediately went to business supplies. (I got decently cushioned shoes and 100 AA batteries. Glamorous stuff.) Gift cards help.


For your person who is starting out, look to Canon Rebels. My personal backup camera is the Rebel t3i. It's old, but it holds up and works beautifully. Plus it is small so when I travel, I can bring it with me without it taking up space (or panicking that if it breaks somehow, I will be out of business). Here are some newer Rebels to look into!

There really isn't anything bad about older models, they're just hard to find online. 

From here on out, I feel like it's just easier to say what I own personally. I'm not a gearhead so this list is pretty simple, but these are the things I use every time I work!

See? Simple bag. It honestly does not take a ton of gear to make a photographer a professional...but that's a blog for another day. (Or never because I hate that discussion so much.)

Now, some little extras to consider for the photographer in your life:

  • Tripods? I rarely use mine but always good to have handy. I didn't put it on this list because a) I never travel with mine, b) I don't use one at weddings or sessions, and c) some people already have one if they need one.
  • Polaroids! I actually don't know if this is a fair gift because you get them hooked and then they have to spend a ton on film for the rest of forever. But Polaroids are cute and timeless.
  • Software! I personally live off Adobe Lightroom and pay their monthly subscription, so that's difficult to gift. But if your photographer-friend has been BEGGING for presets, there are so many great ones out there. Whether you want to go out and get the exact present they've been asking for (and $10 says it's Mastin), or you want to get them credits over on CreativeMarket, helping them get the look they're wanting is always a nice thing to do.
  • Workshops! Oh, how I wish I had the guts to ask for a workshop for Christmas. They can get pricey, hence why I don't know if this is a fair solo-buyer-gift, but they look like so much fun. There are incredible workshops both locally and across the country! It just depends on what they want to focus on. 

I think this sums up a safe shopping list! Let's also note that I am not affiliated with any of these links - I am sharing them because I genuinely like them and use them (except Mastin, which I like but don't use; I just know a lot of people use their presets religiously). 

Any ideas you think I might have missed? Feel free to mention them below!

wedding do's and don't's - for to-be-weds, family, and friends

Y'all, we need to have a talk.

Eight years of weddings has taught me lot. I know what works, what doesn't, what is worth the splurge, what is worth a little elbow grease.

Let's talk a bit about how to BE on a wedding day, whether you're the one walking down the aisle, or the one sitting in a chair watching it all happen.

To a person getting married:

  • Breathe. Try-try-try not to sweat the small stuff. There will be small stuff, and sometimes big stuff, no matter how much time and effort you spent on the planning. A food truck may get a flat tire and be three hours late. A bridesmaid may have forgotten the right shoes. There is always something, and day-of, there generally isn't a whole lot you can do. But you know what you can do? Ask for help. Or let it go. Those are your options.
  • Be kind. The whole "bridezilla" thing, well, we're all going to say you're allowed to be a bridezilla. But don't forget that 9 out of 10 times, we're getting snappy towards people we love dearly. Refer back to the last bullet, breathe, and speak lovingly. (Or if you can't, get someone else to speak for you.) 
  • Be still when it is time to be still. When you are getting your hair and makeup done, or writing your vows morning-of (it happens), be. still. Remind yourself that this is YOUR time to be quiet and focus on yourself. Let other people do things for you. (That eyeliner isn't going to go on any faster or straighter if you're turning your head three thousand times answering everyone's questions.)
  • Remember what the day is for. Getting married. Celebrating with loved ones. The rest is fluff, y'all. It truly is. (Beautiful fluff, yes, but fluff nonetheless.)

To the parents of the bride/groom:

  • Do not lose sight of who the day is for. This is a VERY difficult thing to say, but it is true. If you are a parent who paid for the wedding, thank you for being generous to your child. But no amount of money will make this your wedding. You are doing a kind thing, and we should all stop and appreciate that. But do not make decisions on your child's behalf unless they have given you a go-ahead.
  • It is okay to be emotional. It is not okay to be mean. I don't think I need to say more than this.
  • Be patient. If there is a family photo you really want that didn't make it on the main shot-list, let me know. We'll get it at the reception if we can! But going back to the first point, we don't want to sacrifice the newlyweds' portraits if that's where they want to be. 

To the wedding party:

  • Know who you're working with. If the people getting married are incredibly laid-back people, don't ask them twenty thousand decor questions while they're getting ready. If something is clearly out of place and you were asked to fix it, ask anyone other than the couple. If no one knows, then ask, but always try to figure it out first. (Unless it's major, or the couple is very particular. Again, know your people.)
  • Be supportive. Your friend might be super stressed out about their big day and the least helpful thing is for you to be petty, angry, or cold. Even if tensions are high, remember that this is a person you love, and treat them as such. (This too shall pass.)
  • Be present. If things are falling behind, scrolling through instagram isn't going to save you. Ask what you can do to make the day smoother. Straighten up decor that the wind has blown over. Tell your friend how wonderful they are. Be present. Be of help. Be awesome.
  • Be coherent. It is more than likely that you'll be asked to help out at the end, so please don't drink fifteen cocktails and pass out before that point. 

To the guests:

  • Be present. Put. Your. Phone. Down. During. The. Ceremony. You were not invited to the wedding to post photos unless the invitation said "You and your camera phone are invited to our wedding!" Be in the moment. Get excited for your friends. 
  • Be respectful. Do not make comments about anything unless they are nice ones. Be mindful of the couple's time and don't ask them to take seventy variations of a snapchat. Let them enjoy their wedding. Enjoy it as well. (Oh, and don't wear white.)
  • Be responsible. Open bars are a party and we all know it. But this does not mean it is EVER appropriate to get to a point where you throw up on the dance floor. That's gross. Don't be gross.
  • Be a decent human being. No, weddings are not the best place to pick up a date. No, it is not okay to put your hands on the photographer. Ever. Never. In any situation. (Unless I reach out for a hug or a high-five, or you need to tap me on the shoulder because I did not hear you call for me, please do not touch me.)


Recap that applies to everyone:

  • Love each other.
  • Be a good person.
  • Help out.
  • Drink in moderation.
  • Don't get handsy with anyone who does not want you to be handsy with them.

Follow these suggestions and you're set for a fun, happy, beautiful day.