My Camera

What kind of camera do you use?

Part of me is really flattered when I'm asked what kind of camera I have and how I edit my photos. I know that it should be considered a compliment and serve as reassurance that others enjoy my photos as much as I do. So don't get me wrong here, I know that no one means any harm when they ask this.

Another of part of me, however, hates these questions. I'm a firm believer that photography is much less about your tools and more about practice and vision. One of my favorite photographers, Jen Kay, wrote a really excellent piece about this idea here. Instead of asking photographers what they use, I believe a more meaningful question would be what kind of advice do they have to give. So, before eventually sharing my recommended tools, I want to share a bit on how I got to them first. 

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My Story

I bought my first DSRL when I was 14 and had just started high school. After playing with a Sony point and shoot camera for a few years, I decided photography would be my "thing" and saved all of my birthday and Christmas money for a Nikon D60. At the time, it was the second simplest/least expensive Nikon DSLR there was. It served me well for nearly 10 years before I finally upgraded. 

I quickly became obsessed with learning how to use Photoshop, Lightroom and shooting on different settings. I learned from other photographers on Flickr, where photos were shared before Instagram, that a 50mm lens was the secret to all of the creamy, dream-like images I kept seeing. I invested in a 50mm f/1.4g lens about a year after getting my camera, and this is the one lens that I continue to use exclusively to this day. The lens cost more than my first camera, and that was one of the first times I really believed that the camera body you use doesn't matter all that much. 

In high school, my first job ever was assisting a wedding photographer. I'm beyond grateful for that job because that is how I really mastered Lightroom, learned how to shoot on manual, and how to look for amazing shots. Thank you to Luke Snyder for trusting me and teaching me so much. 

I finally upgraded camera bodies before shooting my first wedding as the primary photographer in 2016. After using my D60 so much, I knew that I actually needed a more powerful camera to handle low light and perform quickly in that setting. I decided on the Nikon D610, which is one of the lower level full-frame Nikons. I bought the body used, as I do most of my equipment, and it's been a really solid investment. 

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My Tools

  • Nikon D610

    • I shoot Nikon and love it. I know plenty of people who shoot Canon and love it. I think they're both wonderful and honestly can't tell the difference between the two as it's all up to personal preference. I say try to get your hands on whatever cameras you are considering and try them for yourself before buying. 

    • My biggest advice is don't buy more camera body than you actually need, and make sure you budget for an excellent lens.

  • Nikon 50mm f/1.4g lens

    • The one and only lens I use and swear by. I have a f/1.8 as a back-up and it also does a great job at a lower price point. I always shoot manual and RAW and shoot on f/1.4 or as low as possible at all times. 

    • My lens advice is invest in a good one, and learn what "good" means to you. This depends on what you want to shoot the most. For me, it's the 50mm because I find it versatile enough for travel and lifestyle images. If you want close-up detail shots, it may be a macro lens. If you want wildlife or action shots, it may be a zoom lens. Do research and find out what suits your needs best. 

  • Adobe Lightroom

    • I edit everything in Lightroom and do my best to make my image coloring look like film. I've gotten my own system down over the years, but you can buy similar presets here and here

    • Practice, practice, practice, and come up with a style that works for you. Youtube is your best friend for learning Adobe products! 

  • VSCO

    • Before posting on Instagram, I pop everything into the free iPhone VSCO app and apply 10-20% of a filter before posting to keep them all somewhat consistent.  

  • Film

    • I have a simple Canon AE-1 35mm film camera that I love for personal use. I typically use Fuji 400h film because of the light pastel coloring. 

Darcy Dellera