There are thousands of things out there for photographers to consider purchasing. A lot of them are fantastic. But for Crystal and I, these are Pure's Top Ten things we CANNOT live without.
In no particular order:
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1) Pixieset. Delivering clients images is easy and stylish. We upload to Pixieset, and the client can easily download their sessions or share with family members and friends who might want a photo or two also. We can set print prices, and we can easily sell prints that way. Digital images are critical for wedding photography and Pixieset delivers. Their price is excellent too. We use the paid version so that we have total control over the settings for our clients and have enough storage, but there are even free options for you to try out first.
2) A Black Rapid camera strap--* Having our cameras hanging around our necks was quickly out for long weddings. Neck and shoulders ached by the end, and it was not practical for shooting two cameras. Enter the Black Rapid (especially the DUO strap.) The camera slides along the strap on both sides of the body and hangs on the hip. Practical and convenient. Do make sure that you check the D-ring for tightness often.
3) A Good Camera Bag (or two)--So sometimes we just need a couple of lenses and one camera body (births are a good example of having to travel light and not be a significant presence), and sometimes we need the WHOLE kit. What bags to Crystal and I use? For small bags, we love both the JoTote line of bags (we have some that are over six years old and are still in perfect shape, despite being dragged to every wedding stuffed with flashes*, Gary Fong Diffusers*, and triggers and batteries*) and the Copper River Bags. Copper River Bags are almost bullet proof with thick leather and a more rugged design that works for men or women and have a lovely and unique styling. (Mine doubles as my purse and has for over 5 years and it still looks almost new, and it is my top travel/vacation camera bag.)
For a larger bag, Rachel uses the ThinkTank Airport*. It is small enough to stand up in the overhead bin, so travel is simple. Crystal has the slightly larger LowPro that fits a few more flashes and nine lenses.
4) Cactus V6 Flash Triggers--* We have used almost EVERY radio flash trigger on the market. We have spent thousands and thousands of dollars, so you don't have to. We moved up from Cactus v2 to Cactus v5, and now we just started moving up to v6, and we are obsessed. We have used other brands of triggers between each version, thinking that with the higher price tag, we would be getting more reliability. However, we found we got less reliability compared to the Cactus triggers. We use a four light wedding reception set up, often a light or two for bridal sessions, and trigger strobes in the studio, so we need reliable triggers. The V6 allows you to use groups, set flash power from the transmitter, set channels, etc. They are transceivers, which means you can use them as triggers or receivers as needed. This is so fantastic. Another amazing perk is that they work with both Canon and Nikon. Crystal and I shoot Canon, but sometimes our 2nd shooters, shoot Nikon. We can pop one of these babies on their cameras, and they can trigger our Canon flashes! How cool is that?!!
We were able to get eight triggers for a little over $400. Fantastic for getting all of our reception lighting and letting both Crystal and I have a trigger or two. These little babies make us look awesome with our light control.
5) Fong Light Diffusers--* Particularly the collapsible ones. We use these on our four flashes at receptions. They are small and easily carried, excellent for travel. They throw the light out and if there are color casts on the ceiling the cap keeps the flash from spreading that color to all the wedding guests. While it does eat power (and by extension, it eats batteries faster), we feel the way it makes out light look is a worthy trade-off.
6) Millers--We adore Millers for prints and albums. They make us look GOOD. Their turnaround time is so fast you'd swear they were are printing your stuff in your backyard. The deep matte prints are so beautiful they make my soul ache a little. It is wonderful to see your image prints the way you see it captured in your mind. Their customer service is top-notch. Millers is printing done right.
7) A good large reflector/diffuser--* These suckers are not your typical round affairs that are maybe a foot or two tall. No, these are big oval monsters that are taller than we are. They unzip and have a fantastic diffusion panel inside that allows you to temper harsh sunlight, which is critical during noon formals for sunny summer weddings. They also make amazing fill light in the studio, reflect beautifully indoors and out, and are pretty legit impromptu changing booths if Crystal and I each hold one or two around a client. SO much multitasking.
8) A great contract--We love the contracts from Rachel Brenke. Having a good solid contract gives your client an understanding of what to expect from you (managing client expectation is critical to a good experience), and it protects both you and your client from legal issues. It will outline what you will provide and what your client will give you in return. It outlines what you will and will not do. Going to a session or wedding without a contract is about on par to going without clothes.
9) Lightroom/Adobe Camera RAW--Post-processing photos is just what happens. In the film era, you would not hand over your rolls of film to your client and call it a day. Rather, you would bring them to the darkroom and choose chemicals and processed to develop them. You would dodge and burn. You would bring your vision alive even further with your post processes. It is no different in the digital age. Processing the RAW files is important. Making sure you lift the digital haze of your images, correct any possible faults that happened during capture, and then putting your spin on the images is a critical part of being a Photographer. Lightroom and Adobe Camera RAW allow for quick edits, batch processing, and quick export and file renaming. This is a critical step for the efficient photographer. (Bonus points for OUR presets to get you from point A to done in record time!)
10) Photoshop!--Cloning, healing, and specialized edits require Photoshop. Lightroom/Camera RAW/Photoshop all go together like Peanut Butter and Jelly. Editing skin in Lightroom is a tricky process at best. Removing unwanted items is liable to make a saint curse. But Photoshop makes short work of all of the above and allows your creative vision to shine through. And again...we're pretty partial to our actions.