White Willow Photography

Capturing the Magic: How a Professional Photographer Can Make Your Wedding Memories Last a Lifetime

winnipeg wedding photographer

Your wedding day is not just any ordinary day. It’s one of the most significant milestones in your life, and the cherished memories of that day will stay with you forever. That’s why preserving those beautiful moments through photography is crucial for reliving them for years to come. The truth is, only a professional photographer can capture the essence of your big day with precision and expertise. 


With their years of training, experience, and creative flair, they can elevate your wedding’s visual storytelling in a way that an amateur photographer simply can’t match. So, if you want to ensure that your wedding day is captured flawlessly, investing in a reputable and experienced professional photographer is the only way to go. 


Here, White Willow Photography allows us to delve into the numerous benefits of working with a professional photographer, and why it’s undoubtedly the best choice for your big day.


The DIY Downsides

While it may seem like a good way to save money, DIYing your wedding photos or asking a friend to take them may not be the best idea in the long run. When you rely on non-professional photographers to capture your big day, you risk missing important moments and ending up with low-quality pictures. Novices may not have the experience or equipment necessary to capture the best possible shots.

You Want Someone with Wedding Experience

Professional wedding photographers have years of experience in capturing moments, even before they happen. They have the ability to read the environment, anticipate moments, and capture the perfect shot without disrupting the natural flow of events. They also have the best equipment available to capture stunning images in any lighting or weather conditions.

Get a Keen and Unique Perspective

Professional photographers also have a keen eye and a unique perspective when it comes to capturing your wedding day. They have the ability to create innovative and artistic images that are not only beautiful but also tell a story. They also have the technical know-how to manipulate angles, use lighting, and choose the right lens to create a breathtaking photograph.

Consider It Part of Your Wedding Investment

While hiring a professional photographer may seem like a significant investment, it is worth every penny. Wedding photos are the only way to relive that beautiful day again and again, and they will become heirlooms for your future generations. They will also capture the love and commitment you shared with your partner, giving you cherished memories that last a lifetime.

You Get to Focus on Getting Married

When you hire a professional photographer for your wedding, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy your big day. You won’t have to worry about capturing the perfect shot, and you can trust that the photographer will capture all the important moments without you having to micro-manage them.

Using Your Photos Creatively After Your Wedding

Professional photography doesn’t end on your wedding day. You can use your wedding photographs in a variety of ways, such as putting them in a beautiful album, creating canvases or large prints for your home, or sharing them on your social media pages. They can also be used creatively to create beautiful thank you notes, invitations, and other memorabilia through free online platforms like Adobe Express. Here are some of our favorite ways to show off special photos:


  • A Snazzy Slideshow: Create an exquisite slideshow with the Adobe Express Slideshow Creator tool. It’s a user-friendly tool that allows you to highlight your favorite images from your wedding album and add music and transition effects to make it even more special.


  • A Holiday Hello: The holiday season is the perfect time to showcase your wedding photos, and what better way to do it than by creating holiday greetings with your wedding pictures? With the Adobe Express Holiday Card Maker, you can turn your wedding photos into stunning holiday greeting cards that your family and friends will cherish.


  • A Video for All the Snaps: Another way to showcase your wedding photos is by creating a photo video using the Adobe Express Photo Video Tool. You can bring your photos to life by adding music, text, and animation to create an engaging and dynamic visual experience.


  • A Custom Thank You: Show appreciation to your guests by creating custom Thank You cards featuring your favorite wedding photos with the Adobe Express Wedding Thank You Maker. You can customize your card with your own message or choose from pre-designed templates to make it even more special.


No matter which way you choose to showcase your wedding photos, Adobe Express has got you covered with their easy-to-use toolkits to help you create stunning graphics, videos, and photo projects.

Your wedding day is undoubtedly one of the most important days of your life, and the memories created on that day through photography will last forever. Investing in professional photography services is essential to ensure that your beautiful memories are captured in the perfect way. While there may be drawbacks to choosing a less experienced photographer or going the DIY route, hiring a professional photographer ensures that your day is captured in stunning detail that you will cherish for a lifetime.

Ready to capture the magic of your special day with White Willow Photography? Reach out today!

Winnipeg Wedding Venues Outdoors

Winnipeg Wedding Venues Outdoors

The sad truth is Winnipeg doesn’t have the longest summer. But the little time we have we fill with amazing weddings. Of course as a Winnipeg Wedding Photographer I’ve come up with some favourites that I would LOVE to show you 🙂 Here’s some Winnipeg Wedding Venues Outdoors.

So let’s get into it!

Leo Mol Sculpture Garden

I’ll attach links to all these venues as well!

Leo Mol has to be one of my favourite and least favourite at the same time. It’s soooo pretty but at the same time a little frustrating. I won’t put together a Pros and Cons list but I will list some haha. Like I said it really is a stunning outdoor venue. With a pond in the background you get those amazing reflecting shots. You also have the vines growing above which in Fall they turn orange. So pretty!

But it does have some draw backs. Which of course are probably just because I’m a photographer and you might not mind if you’re a bride or groom. The large wood pillars can get in the way especially if you have a guest sitting behind one of them. The venue only has a small number of seats it can fit and it does get a little squishy which means I wasn’t able to get all the angles I normally get. A part from that the only other downside is all the “flower photographers” following you around the park taking your photo. (I got stories haha)

Star Lit Point

10/10 would recommend this venue! I personally haven’t had the privledge of shooting an outdoor wedding at this location YET. But I can’t wait till I do because the views are amazing. I’ve seen some stunning weddings here. They also have one of the prettiest wedding tent set ups I’ve seen. Although this venue is a short drive outside of Winnipeg I do think it’s worth it! 

Star Lit Point is on a beautiful property with a pond and dock as well as a cute little house for those stunning getting ready photos! I would attach some photos however you’re better off just checking out their gallery!

Kinloch Grove

If you’re looking for a perfect outdoor setting in the woods for your wedding then Kinloch Grove might be for you! I really sounded like a sales man there…

ANYWAY, Kinloch Grove is located 35 minutes outside Winnipeg to the north and I got to say they have one of the prettiest outdoor settings for a venue. Like Star Lit Point they also have a great wedding tent set up. Don’t take my word for it, go check out their website!

Gables Wedding Barn

Okay hear me out. The wind can be kind of annoying but mosquitos are worse. The one thing I hate about outdoor weddings is already being hot and sweaty but having mosquitos attack from every side! It’s definitely a minuscule aspect but the Gables Wedding Barn has an open enough are that the most beautiful breeze came through and there was 0 bugs.

Whether you hate mosquitos as much as I do or not it’s a beautiful venue! The Gables Wedding Barn has a stunning set up for your reception afterwards. It’s everything you need and more!

Fort Gibraltar 

If you’re into history or you just like the backdrop, Fort Gibraltar might be the perfect outdoor venue for you! 

Fort Gibraltar has these big wood gates with a pretty isle up to the main building where the reception can take place. Fort Gibraltar also has access to the pathway behind through the woods. Which is perfect if you want wedding photos in a forest setting!

Definitely worth checking out!

Winnipeg Wedding Outdoor Venues

Here to Help!

If your search comes up with nothing appealing to you, I would be happy to give a bigger list of outdoor venues! Or if this blog post helped you find your dream venue I would be thrilled to hear about it! Either way if you’re getting married I’m here to help! I’ll attach my wedding guide as a little bonus for reading this far. 

What’s In My Camera Bag 2022

If you ever wanted to know what gear I recommend or what gear I use day to day as a Winnipeg Wedding Photographer then I’m about to give you all the details! I’ll attach all the Amazon links below for you guys 🙂 Anyway here’s what’s in my camera bag 2022!

Peter Mckinnon Nomatic Travel Camera Bag

First of all we got to start with the bag and boy oh boy do I love this bag. At first I was scared dishing out this much cash just for a bag but it’s 100% worth it. Both Peter Mckinnon and Nomatic worked miracles with this bag. It was rated Camera Bag of the Year 2021. This bag lets me carry everything I need for each wedding without needing an extra bag. This bag is made to carry all the gear needed for a trip as well as clothes for 2-3 days! So much space. 

My favourite part about this bag is all the magnet clips. No more velcro or bad zippers. But with it being such a big bag what happens if I just want to take one camera out on a little walk and take photos? Great question! I don’t want to take this big bag along with me if I don’t need to. Which leads me into the Nomatic Peter Mckinnon Camera Cube!!!

Peter Mckinnon Nomatic Camera Cube

This combo with the Travel Bag is my favourite! This small backpack folds into a small little cube which fits into the Travel Bag. Then when I need a small bag I take it out and unzip it and there we go! It really comes in handy when I go on a 3 day trip where I need a big backpack but once I’m there I can go on walks and hikes with this small bag.

 I literally go around showing people because of how sick it is! If I didn’t explain that well there’s tons of great videos on this set up. I’ll attach one below!

Nikon Z6 ii & Z6

My two cameras I use are the Nikon Z6 and the Z6 ii. I’ve used Sony a little bit and not to offend anyone but these are by far the best mirrorless cameras I’ve used! I’ll leave links to both cameras below. With the FTZ adapter I’m still able to use my old DSLR lenses with it! If you’re a beginner photographer these are likely out of your price range and I would encourage you to do the best with the camera you have. Sad reality is your work won’t get that much better (if at all) just by upgrading your gear. Just so you don’t break the bank and realize nothing changed. Anyway… Mirrorless is amazing and these cameras are my bestfriends haha.


I’m going to list the lenses I have and why I like them and which I would recommend to you! Starting with the…

Nikon Z 35mm f1.8

There’s a lot of hype around the 35mm and honestly once you start using it it’s hard to take off your camera. I don’t like going any wider than 35mm for portraits because of the distortion. I’m 100% comfortable only using this lens for a photo session.

Nikon 85mm f1.4

Here’s my second most used lens and honestly I wish I used it more! I splurged a little and got the f1.4. If you don’t know what that means it basically means the lowest aperture the lens can go down to. The times I do get a good photo with this lens it’s always my favourite. Sometimes I find it hard to use such a zoomed in lens, but that’s just something I have to learn. 

Nikon 70-200mm f2.8

I bought this lens more as an investment. I found it basically brand new on Facebook Marketplace for dirt cheap. So one day I’ll plan to re sell it. This lens is often called the “Wedding Lens”. I use it mainly for ceremony’s when I want to get nice and close. I also used it a lot to get landscape photos when I want lots of compression. I don’t use it as much as I would if I didn’t have an 85mm.

My Recomendations

If you’re in the wedding business like me or just like taking photos of people I would highly recommend the 35mm and 85mm combo. This gives you a great range of compression to wide angle. Also since they’re both prime lenses (Don’t have zoom) they have a lower aperture. If you’re just starting out I would recommend a 50mm. This is a great option for a cheaper lens. Another option if you only want to buy one lens is the 24-70 lens. This lens is great all around and is also perfect for video. The downside is the high aperture. All depends on your budget and what you’re looking to shoot.

Things that just make sense!

With the expensive gear aside here’s some of the other things I keep on me!


A good tripod goes a long way. I take a lot of self portraits so it’s great to have a heavy tripod with a ball joint mount. This one isn’t the lightest or smallest but having a nice quality tripod means you don’t have to worry about your expensive camera crashing to the ground.

Battery Pouch

Honestly one of my favourite purchases! All it is is a pouch with slots for your camera batteries. But what makes me love it so much is that first of it keeps all my batteries in one place but also I can tell which battery needs charge and which one is full. The batteries full of charge I have facing down and the one needing to be charged face up. That way at a glance I know which batteries to charge and which to use! For $17.99 it’s worth it!

Small Rig

The Small Rig is a tool that comes in handy so many times. It’s helped me do everything from put my camera on my tripod to assemble IKEA furniture. So handy! 

Cleaning Kit

Cameras are expensive so make sure you clean them… Enough said.

Sd Card Case

I’m using this less and less because of my switch to XQD Cards. But if you use Sd cards then this is perfect for you! Keeping them safe and all in one spot for $20.00.

What’s in my Camera Bag

If you have questions about any of the links I have listed or just about the gear I use let me know! These links are affiliate links and I do earn a percentage. So if you do want to support me you can use these links 🙂 

I hope this helps you crush your photography journey!

Business Core Values

   A business with core values is a business with direction. Core values help point you in the direction you want to go with every decision no matter how small. Which is really important when you try to grow your business and implement new ideas! Now you’re probably wondering… “What core values could you possible have for your Wedding Photography business.” Well… I’m glad you asked!

Bless Others

White Willow Photography is here to Bless Others

The best advice I’ve been given for running my photography business is to serve others. The best way to grow in a service based industry is to serve your clients. One core pillar of my business is to always serve my clients. This could look like any number of things. I try to get my couples a gift for booking me and a wedding gift! Anything to make them feel loved!

Help Others Reach Their Goals

White Willow Photography is here to Help Others Reach Their Goals

I get the privilege of interacting with different people every year! Some of those are wedding photography clients, and others are photographers needing help! They all have goals. Some have the goal of planning their wedding without stressing, others just want to learn to use their camera. One of the best parts about what I do is being able to help people. I have and will continue to put out different resources like guides and blog posts to help others trying reach their goals!

Pursue Quality Content

White Willow Photography is here to Pursue Quality Content

The great part about photography is I get to create content day after day. (Some days it feels like a bad thing) This might be someones wedding photos or it might be a blog post like this. Either way I want to commit to putting out quality content. It can get easy to get lazy with certain things but that doesn’t help a company grow. People trusting me to take their wedding photos shouldn’t have to worry If I’ll slack off. I’m here to try my best!

Be Financially Stable

White Willow Photography is here to be Financially Stable

Okay this might sound like a weird one to have. But there’s a reason I don’t offer photo shoots for free. Charging the appropriate amount for my services is the reason I can wake up and call myself a photographer and a business owner. With out bookings and proper pricing I would resort to doing photography as a hobby and not be able to shoot so many weddings. It’s important for me to gauge what I need to charge for and what I can offer for free. It also means I need to be smart with the money that comes in.

Make A Difference

White Willow Photography is here to Make A Difference

Looking at the big picture It makes me wonder the impact my business can have not just with each individual that passes by but also on a larger scale. I truly believe even a photography business can change lives and that’s something I want for my business. It might be something small like making someone smile or giving them amazing wedding photos to look back on, or maybe just maybe my business can impact people on a larger scale. It’s not something I expect to happy but instead something I purse with my business.

Thank You

If you read this far then I got to say thank you for the support. Even just reading this blog helps. I enjoy what I do and I’m able to do it because of the people that support me. Even if It’s just liking my Instagram post! You’re pretty awesome!

2021 Photography Recap

The Year My Life Changed

   2021 was an interesting year to say the least… but for me it was especially interesting. You probably aren’t here to listen to me get sentimental about my summer so I’ll spare you the time. But I will say that through everything God had a plan for me.

– Weddings

This is where I was really blown away. The year 2020 was my first year shooting weddings and I shot 4 that year. In 2021, I was hoping for 7 which was a stretch, but I wanted to really push myself. At the time, I was working full time at a trucking company and working on photography in the evening. Here’s the crazy part. I ended up shooting 18 weddings this year! 

I’m so so blessed to be able to turn my hobby into a job. I won’t get into how I was able to use the pandemic to market my business. I’ll just say it’s been a blessing and a curse. 

I was able to quit my job and work for myself full time. This came with its challenges, you see by nature I’m a procrastinator and learning to work from home was one of my biggest challenges. 

Little Recap

This year I was able to meet so many people and go so many places. But like I said, let’s not get sentimental. Maybe this will help put it into perspective. I took 60,983 photos this summer!! Of some of the most amazing people from Manitoba, I might add. That’s a lot! And yes I did go through each of those photos and picked out the ones to edit. There’s a couple shoots that stick out specifically. If I could, I would share all the photos I’ve taken, but I simply can’t, so here’s a couple 🙂

Zane & Taylor

The day from start to finish was as close to a perfect day for a photographer as you can get! Beautiful weather, bottomless poutine, and of course an amazing couple. These photos will forever be some of my favourite. Want to see more photos? Check out this blog post.

winnipeg wedding at the gables wedding barn
Cinthia & Josiah

This wedding had a bumpy start with some car troubles on the way to the wedding and then needing to find a ride. However the rest of the wedding was nothing short of stunning. Check out some of these!

Wedding Dress in Winnipeg Photography

I’m going to start sounding like a broken record but this engagement session was beautiful. I always love when the couple starts by saying they are bad at taking photos. Gives me a chance to prove them wrong.  This session we went around Birds Hill during golden hour getting some cute pics.


Shout out to this couple for agreeing to drive to Steep Rock for their engagement session! And boy oh boy was it worth it. Spent some time during sunset taking some photos on the cliffs. Check them out!


This has got to be one of my favourite winter shoots! Like come on! There was literally a hallmark movie being filmed down the street. These two brought the vibes too. Such a great time!

Justin & Carmen

Winter weddings can be so beautiful. This couple had their wedding plans change again and again but were able to have their wedding at the Centennial Concert Hall. This winter day ended up only being -2. Had a great time shooting in the Exchange with this amazing couple.

Amanda & Pavel

Yes, the perfect fall wedding does exist and I got to take photos for it!!! These are two of the nicest people I’ve met and also models. I couldn’t be more happy with how the photos came out!

How much does a wedding photographer cost per hour
Makoy & Danica

It was an amazing experience being able to be a part of this wedding. I knew the groom from church, so it made it extra special. This was one of my first 10 person weddings and I got to say, there’s something special about them. 

Elopement Packages Alberta

We will end off with another amazing engagement session. This one took me to Stoney Mountain Quarry. These two braved the cold fall day for these photos so props to them! We had fun exploring the area and getting some fun photos!

New Things to Come

I really wish I could have shared more sessions with you guys. But seeing as 2022 is coming up I figure sooner is better than later. In 2022 I have a lot of big things coming and I can’t wait for all the new adventures I’ll have. If you want to continue to follow what I’m up to you can follow my Instagram.

First of all, thank you to all of you that trusted me with your wedding photos and couple photos. And second of all, thank you to all of you that have supported me along the way! 

Happy New Year!

5 Things to know before becoming a Photographer

The last thing you want is to be surprised by your photographer. Next thing you know you aren’t getting what you paid for, or worse… Your photographer shoots with a Canon camera!! I’ll try to keep my bias for Nikon out of this but so on and so forth. Keeping these 5 things in mind while booking your photographer might save you.

1. Know the style you want.

Okay imagine this… Kelly wants photos of her wedding, so she hires one of the first photographers she comes across. She sits down for a whole hour explaining the type of photos she wants. After her wedding she loses it because her photos don’t look exactly how she imagined it. Don’t be a Kelly, PLEASE. Now it’s good to have expectations of your photographer, but don’t ask your photographer to change their style to what you want. A photographer can’t change their style willy nilly. Instead find a photographer that matches what you’re looking for.

If you don’t know the style of photos you want, try searching Instagram or Pinterest for some different styles you like. Maybe just pick something that will match the walls of your living room, that you impulsively painted a shade too close to brown.

2. Photos? What about everything else?

Now that you know what style of photos you want, what about everything else? There’s more to your photo shoot than the photographer showing up and taking your photo and calling it a day.

It’s important to clarify some things before booking your photographer. Each photographer works differently, so it’s good to be on the same page for the day of your photo shoot. Try asking questions like, “Do you deliver digital files I can download?” or “How long does it take to get our images after the shoot?” or even ask if they offer prints or albums. This will help clarify all the unknowns before picture day.

3. Budget

Photographers charge money, and sometimes it feels like a lot of money. But that’s a conversation for another time. Here are some things to clarify about expenses. Are there additional expenses? Travel fee? How much is the deposit? And finally what is their cancellation and refund policy? These questions will help you stay out of any sticky situations. I hate sticky situations.

4. Reviews

This one’s kind of obvious but make sure to check out what others are saying about the photographer you’re considering hiring. This will help you know what you might be getting yourself into. This will also help you determine the strengths and weaknesses of your photographer.

5. Personality

I saved the best for last. Photographers come in all shapes and sizes. To get the best possible outcome for your photo shoot, find the photographer that matches your personality. There’s quiet and loud photographers, there’s photographers that blend into the background and there’s photographers that aren’t scared to join in on the dance floor. Find a photographer that will make you the most comfortable on your shoot. Most photographers express their personality pretty quickly through email or text, or even a video call.

With these 5 tips I have no doubt you’ll find the right photographer for you!

How to download Images on Pixieset

How to Download images off Pixiset

Downloading your photos off Pixieset can be tricky, and it really shouldn’t be. Today I’ll quickly show you how to correctly download them for each device.

Why download your photos?

When your photographer send you your photos it’s easy to just download the ones you want. however that link doesn’t last forever. Download them and put them on a safe USB. As a photographer I keep the images backed up on multiple hard drives because clients come back to me because they forgot to download them all and now I need to send them photos again. Don’t be that person.

Laptop or Computer

This is probably the easiest way to download the files off Pixieset. It works best because often when you download a lot of files it puts them in a zipped folder. Anyway let’s get to it!

To download the photos you can find the download icon (arrow pointing down towards the line) This is where pixieset will ask you to put in an email. I don’t believe Pixieset will send you promotional emails but your photographer may. Your email is used to keep track of your favourite list. You can either download all the photos or  selected from your favourite list.

After that you pick what size of photos you want to download. I recommend downloading the original size (High Res) of photos. Then you get to pick where to download the photos to. I only have experience downloading the photos to the computer but I’m sure the other options are self explanatory. If the files you downloaded are in a zipped file either double click and open the file or right click and click extract all.


I’ve had some difficulty downloading images on Iphone off Pixieset. If you’re able to just download the photos onto a computer and then airdrop them or send them to your phone. If you do want to download them onto your phone go through the same process and get them on your phone by hitting the download icon in the top right corner. You then have to find the zipped folder in your files on your phone. After that you have to open the file and move the photos to your camera roll.

Hope this helps!

If you’re still having problems I would love to help you through it a little more! 

3 Reasons to book a mini session


A Mini Session is simply just a normal photo shoot but broken down to a shorter time. Many Photographers do this to give more people an opportunity for a photo shoot. Also Mini Sessions give the client(s) a taste of what a full length photo shoot could look like. While still giving the client a couple amazing images!


Many people are hesitant to book a full session due to the reason they can be pricey at times. This stops many people from ever getting pictures with their loved ones. Mini Sessions are much more affordable. Giving clients that are on the fence about booking a shoot a chance to experience the photo shoot and see if they would be interested in a full session.


Whether it’s a birthday or anniversary or just a way to let someone know you care, a Mini Photo Shoot can be a great gift for your loved one or friend. Not only is it a unique gift, but it’s also one that lasts forever. A photo can be posted, printed, and hung up on the refrigerator. You can even buy a gift card or get a gift receipt from White Willow Photography.


Everyone can remember back to those times when they were little kids and their moms made them sit still for a picture in the most uncomfortable clothing. Well, most photo shoots are no longer like that. Each session should be fun and without stress. Often clients bring along their dogs and you can image there is never a dull moment. With your Mini Session there will be nothing but smiles.


Mini Sessions are running this summer in Winnipeg, Canada. There’s a limited amount of blocks, so make sure you get your photo shoot this summer!

Why does my Art suck ?

Whether you’re a photographer, painter, or any other form of artist, we all get that horrible feeling as we scroll through our Instagram and see everyone’s art that’s so much better than ours. Is my art that bad? How do I improve?


In grade 9, I picked up a camera for the first time. I didn’t have any intention of becoming a Winnipeg Wedding Photographer but rather wanted something to help pass the time. I later created an Instagram (@carltons.captures) where I started to share these photos. I’m convinced that if it wasn’t for the people in my life that told me I was taking amazing photos, I would have probably quit. It was because I was convinced that I took the most breathtaking photos ever that kept me going. For many people this is the case starting out in their area of art. That is until you get exposed to other people’s art. More and more, I would scroll through my social media feed saturated with amazing photography, and I started to realize where my skill level was compared to amazing artists. What happened was my artistic taste developed faster than my skill. This is what’s called the gap.

This isn’t an original idea, and I wish I could tell you who came up with this idea. To recap, as early artists, we are exposed to a lot of amazing art. Our creative taste develops faster than our skill which makes us set higher standards for ourselves. We are no longer happy with the art we produce. The sad part is that many people stop practicing and producing art because they feel like their art sucks. This doesn’t just happen for early artists, but also for people with higher developed skill.

On the graph below you can see a visual on how your Taste develops faster than your Skill leaving a gray area we call the Gap.


Lucky for us, there’s a solution. We need to cease comparison when it comes to other artists in our field as much as possible, instead, compare ourselves to the art that was produced yesterday. Comparing yourself to your earlier art is an easy way to ensure you’re improving. Another way to prevent being stuck in the gap is to distance yourself from the places you normally compare yourself to others, this may be Instagram, Facebook, etc. Do your best to continue to develop your skill and do what you love!

Switching your Camera over to manual mode

For starters…

Photography in life is incredibly important! The fact that everyone has a story to tell makes photography so valuable. The best way to do this is on manual mode.

You might be thinking, I got this setting that automatically changes my settings, why not use that? Manual mode gives you full control of the outcome of your photos, and will make a world of difference. Although it may be scary, switch your camera to Manual mode. Manual is controlled with 3 main settings called the “Pillars of Photography” Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO. All of them control what’s called exposure. I do not expect you to be an expert after this, trust me, it took me a while. The definition of exposure is the amount of light reaching the sensor or more simply, how bright your photos are. If you’re hearing this for the first time that’s great, take some notes and soak it all in. If you already know how to use manual mode, I still think you’ll be able to learn a lot.  Today we are going to learn how to balance each of these settings to get the right exposure you want and the best outcome for the photo.


This is probably the most complicated setting you’ll have to master and understand. Aperture is often explained as the pupil of the camera. Our pupils get larger when there is less light and smaller when there’s more light. Aperture is the opening of the lens.   The way we control aperture on our camera is with the setting called F-stop. I might use Aperture and F-Stop interchangeably. Aperture also controls another aspect of photography. This area is called Depth of Field (how much is in focus) ,our eye also works like this. With a small depth of field we got less in focus. Bigger depth of field is having more of your image in focus. This means if you have a beautiful landscape and want all the mountains in focus you would use a bigger depth of field.

This is where you might get confused, a small opening in the lens is controlled with a large aperture number giving you a bigger depth of field but also because the opening is smaller it will let in less light. If you want a nice landscape photo where everything is in focus then you would have a large F-stop number but will make your photo darker, or if you want a nice picture of a flower but don’t want all the background details being distracting then using a small depth of field will allow the flower to be in focus while the background is not.

Take your finger and hold it up close to your face, if you focus on your finger notice the background being super out of focus. That would be an example of a small depth of field. Holding your finger farther away makes more of the background in focus which would be an example of a bigger depth of field.. Just to make it more confusing they control a big opening in the lens with a small F-stop. Let’s recap…

Bigger F-stop Ex. F/24

Letting in Less Light               Smaller Lens Opening

Bigger Depth of Field             More in Focus

Smaller F-stop Ex. F/2.5

Letting in More Light               Bigger Lens Opening

Smaller Depth of Field            Less in Focus

Ingrain this idea of smaller aperture number means more light which means smaller depth of field and vice versa. We will touch on when to use what aperture towards the end, so don’t worry about that. If you understand this so far, great if not we will work on it more so don’t worry.

So turn on your cameras and try and find your F-stop setting. If you aren’t already, turn your camera to manual. We are going to try to take a photo with a small depth of field and a large depth of field. Keep in mind when you try to take a photo with a large depth of field it might get to dark.

Shutter Speed

Much simpler than aperture, shutter speed is simply the speed at which the photo is taken, also how long the “shutter” is open letting light come in to the sensor. For fast moving objects you need a faster shutter speed, for slower objects you don’t need that fast of shutter speed. Your shutter speed has to be set depending on the light around you. Our eyes automatically adjust to the lighting around us whether it be outside or inside, however your camera on manual mode does not. So you must think to yourself, what am I photographing and how much light is around me. If I’m taking a nice photo of one of my friends playing basketball outside during the day my shutter speed will be on the higher end. If you have too slow of shutter speed with a moving focal point, the outcome will be a blurry photo. In some instances you want motion blur however most of the time you want a nice crisp photo. That’s pretty simple right? Well what happens when you want to take a nice photo of your friend playing basketball but instead of it being outside, it’s in a poorly lit gym. Put the shutter speed too high and you will get a dark photo, put the shutter speed to low and you will get a blurry photo. This is when ISO comes in.


Iso stands for “International Organization of Standardization” which is totally not important. What you do need to know about is grain or digital noise. Think sand on a photo, or maybe a TV without signal. ISO essentially brightens a photo but at a cost, more you brighten an image the more digital noise you add. However, it’s still better to be able to have a properly exposed image (right lighting in a picture). So if you set your aperture to the right setting and got your shutter speed for the amount of movement in the image but it is still too dark. Then you start bumping up your Iso. 

How do all these settings work together you ask? Great question, the answer is we learn to balance them.


Consider this analogy, getting the right amount of light in your image is like filling a bucket with water. The bucket being the sensor of your camera. Your aperture (remember it’s the opening of the lens changing depth of field) is the hose filling the bucket with water, with a bigger hose you fill the bucket quicker and with a smaller hose you fill it up slower. Shutter speed is the amount of time you have to fill the bucket, a longer shutter speed and you have longer to fill the bucket (remember too slow of shutter speed means a possibility for blur). Where does ISO come into this analogy? Well ISO is the size of the bucket. Higher ISO means you have a smaller bucket to fill (remember this gives you a grainer photo). With this analogy try to imagine filling the bucket but trying not to get Blur/Grain. You have probably noticed that each of the three settings talked about above changes the amount of light in your image in one way or another.  I’m going to give you the steps to make it easier to set up your settings. This way of thinking makes it much less overwhelming. First we study the prop and or model. This could be a mountain range in bright light or a picture of your dog in dark lighting. 


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Carlton Reimer