Recommended Extras 

I thought some of you might find it useful to hear about some of the other little "extras" that I think are extremely useful to have with you on your photography journey. These will  make your life a little bit easier, and in most cases, improve your end result - which can only be a good thing right? So, I've created a list for you below of the ones I think are the most useful for lifestyle photography / capturing your everyday life (rather than a list created for those that want to photograph landscapes, or portraits in a studio for example) 

You don't actually NEED any of these - technically you only need a camera and a lens - but these are the things i haven't regretted spending any money on, and most are relatively inexpensive. 


A White Balance Tool 

Ideally you should have something to help set your white balance. This is very useful when you are starting out as it takes a while to "see' color correctly, so this helps make sure you get it right.  Even when you are more knowledgeable on white balance, they are very useful, allowing you to set your white balance quickly and accurately.   My favorite is without doubt the Expodisc, as I find it the easiest to use, but unfortunately it is also the most pricey.  However, you will get the same result with a grey card or white balance filter.  Click on the links for more details. 


Reflector 

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Sometimes when you are shooting you will want to be able to bounce light back onto your subject. I admittedly use this less than I should, but it can be handy to have, particularly in backlit situations.  The one below is the one I have, which gives you 4 different sides (silver, white, gold or black) plus a scrim for blocking light.  It's an inexpensive item and I like having it as an option. Again, click on the link for more details. 


Editing Software

I pretty much edit all my photos, even if it just adding a little contrast or saturation. (You can see some of my before and afters here)   A good editing program will allow your images to really shine, so I really strongly recommend getting one - it really will be worth every penny I assure you!  I recommend either Photoshop Elements or LIghtroom if you are just starting out. (I did a post comporing the two here if you are not sure which one to get I personally have Photoshop CC, but probably 90% of what I use PS for could be done using Elements, and I often only edit my photos in Lightroom or ACR only.  

If you would prefer Photoshop rather than Elements, please note that it is no longer available as a boxed version, it is only available on license - so you pay a monthly fee to use rather than owning the software. There is a good deal on a photographers version which allows you to use both Lightroom and Photoshop for just $9.99 per month.  It does save you money on an upfront purchase, but if you are a hobbyist, this will work out very expensive over the term.  You can find out more about the cloud option on the links below. 


Lightscoop / Speedlight 

You have probably heard numerous times that if you are trying to get better quality images and improve your photography, you shouldn't use your cameras pop up flash. Why? Because it produces a very harsh light which will a) look unnatural b) hit your subject straight on so that he or she will look flat and drained and c) will probably always leave you with red-eye. All in all, deeply unflattering!  For this reason, I definitely prefer using natural light and strive to do so, but there are times when having flash is handy, for example taking photos indoors when there is little light available.  There are two options here depending on your budget and camera model. 

The Lightscoop Bounce Flash Device is a cheap and cheerful option if you have a pop up flash on your camera. It fits over your flash and softens the light by re-directing it and bouncing it off a wall or ceiling, in much the same way that an external flash unit would (although with less power and control) I had one previously and it works really well, and I would certainly recommend it.
If, like me, you don't have a pop up flash on your camera, or you want to work in low light situations a lot, investing in a speedlight is your best option. I have this model, the Canon Speedlite 430EX II and love it. This adds light to the scene but also allows you to bouce it of a nearby wall or ceiling, softening the light and if done well, you would be hard pushed to guess that flash was used.

Decent Memory Card

You may want to also purchase a faster memory card - I think it's one of the best things you can do when photographing moving children! Most people don't even think about their memory card, but bear in mind your want your camera to be able to "write" the image onto the card quickly, so you don't have to stand and wait whilst the camera is buffering. (See this post on using Burst Mode for more info) Choose one with decent write speeds - the one shown is 95MB's. If your camera has the option for you to use a CF card (the more professional bodies do) you might want to look at that as an option too. 


LensPen

I really like having my LensPen to hand to quickly wipe away any dust or fingerprints on my camera lens - I'm not precious with my lenses so they do tend to get a little mucky!

Although I do sit and give them a proper clean every once in a while, it's usually when I'm about to snap a picture that I notice a large smear on the surface of my lens. The Lenspen is easy to whip out and gets rid of dust with the brush, and smears with the little pad thing.  It saves having to do it with your sleeve or bottom of your t-shirt (yep, I know you've done it) which might just lead to scratches on your lenses. (I'm not precious with them, but nor do I want to risk scratching them if I can help it!) 

 

There are many more gadgets out there (and I have a few of them!) but these are the ones that I think will make your life much easier, and you may wish to consider straight off!