Photography Resources

The world is full of beauty, and it is my joy and passion to soak it in with my camera.  For me, photography is a life-giving combination of cheap therapy and worship of an amazing Creator.  I love to share my passion with others both by taking photos for them to enjoy, and also by taking photos WITH them.

For those interested in me taking pictures OF them or FOR them, there is Tracy Patterson Photography.

Recommended Reading

If you are interested in learning more about photography, I have some recommendations here.  I compiled them back around 2012 when I was really in the thick of my studies before I opened my business.  There are surely many more now, but I've attempted to make sure the links are still good.  Wherever you are in your photography journey, you might find some of these links helpful.

Digital Photography School (21 Settings, Techniques, and Rules here)

Improve Photography (Photo Basics series here)

Clickin' Moms (awesome creativity exercises to get you working on your craft here)

My Cameras and Lenses (*--recommended for new DSLR users)

*Nikon D3100: My first entry level DSLR that I purchased in 2011--they update their entry models often.  If you have a local camera store, I highly recommend going and talking to someone about the current lines.  Then, you might consider looking for some used equipment on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.  Many people are using their phones exclusively these days, and are offloading equipment that is hardly used.

Four years and MANY thousands of clicks later I purchased…

Nikon D610 Full-frame DSLR:  A MUCH improved sensor for low-light, plus far greater wide-angle capability.

*Tamron 18-270mm zoom lens (available for both Nikon and Canon--true of all Tamron lenses):  Purchased within less than a year of buying my first DSLR camera plus two kit lenses covering 18-55mm and 55-200mm.  Simply put, I didn't want to miss a photo because I had the wrong lens on.  You can shoot ANYTHING with 18-270mm if you have decent light.  Love this lens!  (Update:  I have added the Tamron 18-400mm to my collection since I loved the other one so much--we are traveling to national parks as often as we can these days, and sometimes you spot a wild animal wayyy off in the distance.  The photos aren't sharp as a tack at 400mm, but they are really cool nevertheless.)

Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AF-S prime lens:  Because you don't always have decent light.  And that wide aperture makes beautiful bokeh.  Inexpensive first indoor/low light lens.

Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom lens:  To handle a much wider variety of indoor or lower light situations.  The one I use most for my sessions.

Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 wide angle lens:  To get the big picture--especially in smaller spaces.

Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 telephoto:  This completes the focal range for low light, other than super zoom--I could have lived without it if it weren't for my daughter in marching band!

Recommendation for First-time DSLR Buyers

If you are like I was, you feel like you are sinking a really big chunk of money into this equipment, and you can't guarantee you'll get the hang of it or make good use of it.  I started out very conservatively with an entry level Nikon (nothing particularly special about Nikon over Canon, just my choice), along with the two kit lenses (18-55mm and 55-200mm).  It was the least expensive way to  replace my point and shoot capability with a DSLR quality.  If you buy a DSLR camera that comes with one 18-55mm lens, you will have a far more limited zoom capability than a typical point and shoot camera.  I knew that I needed both.  If I had it to do over again, I would skip the kit lenses and buy the camera body only and Tamron 18-270mm lens (reasons explained above), and ultimately save some money--but it is a little bit more money to begin with.  If you don't shoot subjects that are far away (like baseball and zoo animals in my case), you could start with a camera body and a 50mm f/1.8 lens (great quality and relatively inexpensive, but NO zoom), and then go from there.  If, after choosing the lens(es) you really want to get off to a good start, you can afford to invest even a little more, compare camera bodies carefully and consider purchasing one that has a higher quality sensor than the entry level model.

If that all seemed like a foreign language to you, I highly recommend you familiarize yourself a little more before you buy.  DSLR cameras take beautiful photos, but the quality increases by leaps and bounds as you learn to tell them what to do. 

Photography Business Resources

My mentor for starting a photography business based on my own storytelling style of photography was Susan Keller.  I love her work, and she published a manual on how to structure a business around the specific type of work she did, as well as coaching me personally.  Her "Beautiful Lifestyle" resource is available here. Whatever your style, I recommend researching thoroughly the best options for setting up a business that plays to your strengths and values, while generating the income you need--whether that means covering the expenses of your gear or putting food on your table.