Beginner Photography Tips | Gear Recommendations

Tips for selecting your first DSLR and lens

So you’re ready to dive into photography, but good grief, there are SO many camera brands and models, tons of lenses, memory cards, you name it! It can be really hard to figure out where to begin and what you actually need to get started. Trust me, I hear ya! I hope to make this a little easier on you, and detail my beginner photography tips and camera/gear recommendations for beginners. I am a Canon gal, so that is the brand I will highlight, but there is certainly comparable equipment you could look into by Nikon if you prefer!

Ok, first things first. Let’s talk about a camera body. For beginners, moms, bloggers and hobbyists; you do not necessarily need a professional grade camera body. Canon makes several models of their Rebel, which is a great option! (It’s what I started out with!). The Rebel generally comes in a kit, including a lens, and the price is reasonable. They are readily available at Target, Walmart, Best Buy and various other big name stores. Any of the Rebel models would be a fantastic starter camera!

Alright, so you already have a camera (or are planning to purchase one), what else is essential? If your camera came with a kit lens (usually an 18-55mm), you can absolutely start learning on that. It is a zoom lens, and will work just fine as you learn your manual settings and start practicing! However, once you get a handle on your skills a little bit, I’m willing to bet you’ll be ready to move on from that little guy. The lens that I always recommend as someones first purchase when starting out is Canon’s 50mm 1.8. It is a prime lens (meaning it does not zoom), and in my opinion, it has a couple features that I feel make it way better than the kit lens!

First, the quality is better. When I started using the 50mm when I first was learning, I felt that my pictures were a lot more sharp compared to the 18-55mm. Also, you have the ability to shoot at a much lower aperture (that’s what the 1.8 means!). Are you dreaming of that gorgeous blurry background; aka bokeh? Yep, me too. You’ll love this lens for achieving that! The lower your aperture, the more shallow your depth of field, and friends that what my dreams are made of. Most kit lenses can’t go below an aperture of 3.5 and quite frankly, that just isn’t low enough for me 😉

Woohoo, moving right along! So, we’ve talked about a camera, and have our eye on a good, versatile starter lens. Now, you’ll need a memory card(s). I love SanDisk; they’re really all I’ve ever used! I’ve yet to have any issues (knock on wood!). They offer various gigabytes, so depending on how many images you want it to be able to hold, and your budget, you can decide which size best fits your needs. Another thing to consider when looking at memory cards is the speed. If you are planning to take pictures of something that moves fairly fast, and you anticipate needing to take a bunch of shots quickly, you’ll want to go with a faster speed so it can keep up. SanDisk makes an ‘Ultra Plus’, which would be a good mid-range option so start with!

Who’s ready to get out there and start taking pictures?? These are the top 3 essentials that I feel will really set you up for a great experience on your photography journey! B&H Photo is a great company to order photography gear from; I have personally ordered from them many times! You can start browsing HERE ! (P.s. not sponsored in any way, I just think they are wonderful, and have an incredible inventory!)

The only other item I’ll mention here, is an external hard drive. If you are really finding yourself taking a lot of images, and wanting to save them all, I would definitely recommend investing in one. Image files can take up space on your computers hard drive faster than you may think!

beginner photography tips, photography education, how to use your dslr camera, light and airy photography, maryland photographer, camer and gear recommendations, canon dslr

I hope this was helpful as you begin exploring photography! If you are looking for more information about using your camera and shooting on manual mode – stay tuned! I am working on transitioning my Intro to Photography course to an online version!

xoxo, Jess

Jess Becker Photography is a Maryland newborn photographer, also specializing in maternity and family photography on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, including Easton, St. Michaels, and Kent Island; as well as the Annapolis and Baltimore/Washington DC areas.

To learn more about Jess, review collection offerings and to get started planning a session, visit the main website at: or send an email to


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April 17, 2019



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