Photography Basics with Carter

If you missed last week’s announcement… I hired Carter! August is a half-month for us while she gets settled into her new apartment in the city and we’re cranking things up full-time come September. It’s ridiculous how much having her around has already changed my work-life. It’s so nice having a creative on the team. We have some fun plans and goals up our sleeves.

One of the things I’m personally most excited about is to have Carter teach me mini-lessons on how to take better photos. Big cameras stress me out. I’ve tried to learn via Youtube videos at least 10x, but I keep failing. She’s already taught me a few things when I take photos of her (like how to get the camera to focus on her face 🤣– that was a big breakthrough for me!).

I thought it’d be fun for her to share some of her photography tips on here. Today she’s starting off with some of the very basics.

Guest post by Carter Fish

Photography has always been a big part of my life, and it took me until high school to really realize that. When I was younger, I used to put action figures in the plant figurines throughout my house and pretend I was photographing movie scenes (my family still thinks it’s hilarious). And I am, too, guilty of having taken photos of the trees in my backyard and I thinking I was this exquisite nature photographer. But hey, we all have to start somewhere!
During my freshman year of high school, I took a Photoshop class. Vector edits were all the rage, and so I took the course to learn how to do them! While taking the course, I upgraded to my first DSLR (Nikon D5200) because the higher image quality to edit. While writing this, it’s interesting to realize that I actually got into the art of photography because I wanted to learn the editing process- not because I liked taking photos, haha.
As time went on, I started learning other editing programs and upgraded my photo models from my little sisters to a broader subject pool. I didn’t have a specific photo style I wanted to mimic or attempt, so it took me awhile to really find my true style (both content and editing wise). That’s one tip I like to give people: figure out your own style. Don’t copy someone else because there’s someone already doing it that way. 
Throughout the years, I’ve been through a few cameras and a good assortment of lenses. I started out with Nikon, and I’ve stuck with it since, but I have nothing against Canon. I thought the Nikon 5200 was a great starter camera because it had both photo and video options. The Nikon D3300 is essentially the same camera, just without the video option. Both the Nikon D5200 and the D3300 are crop sensor body types, which I recommend starting out with because 1) they’re less expensive, and 2) are great quality and will allow you to experiment the same ways you’d be able to with a full-frame sensor. I allowed myself to upgrade to the more expensive full-frame sensor camera after about four or five years because I felt like I truly understood the camera.
As for lenses, the “nifty fifty” (50mm f/1.8) is a solid lens to start out with. It’s a prime lens, meaning it doesn’t zoom but allows for a wider f/stop (aka more blur/ bokeh). From there, you’re able to learn if you prefer a lower mm lens (more content in the frame) or a higher mm lens (more zoomed in).
If you buy your camera new, it’ll come with an 18-55mm starter lens. But if you want to upgrade to a more professional focal length, I use the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 lens… which I think is the zoom lens parallel to the nifty fifty lenses! It’s very versatile and won’t break the bank.
On top of the tip of finding your own style and not copying what’s already out there, another tip I have is that I always shoot with backlight, meaning I face my subject away from the sun while photographing them. I adjust my settings, so they aren’t shadowed, and I just prefer that look rather than facing the sun directly.
Hopefully, this post was helpful to some of you! If you have any more questions, feel free to comment them, and we will try to answer all of them!

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Aurelia Paquette

Thanks so much for this post, Carter and Carly! Carter, what are your tips for taking backlit photos? I love the look but struggle with it—my subject often ends up shadowy or desaturated. Thank you 🙂


You have to expose for your subject. Your camera meters the entire scene and since the sun is the brightest object in your photo, your camera will let in less light (underexpose) because it’s thinking there’s already a lot of light in the frame. That means you have to manually set your camera to overexpose. Do you have a DSLR? You might want to either set a slower shutter speed, or open up your apperture more. You can also place a white foam board (like the poster boards used for school projects) below your subject, and angle it towards them so that it reflects the sun back to your subject.

Nuala McDermott

Hi, how do you achieve backlight settings.? So many squinting family shots this year!


My biggest question is how to get a photo like the one of Carter above!! Focus on the subject with the background blurred out.


You need a camera that allows you to change apperture so you can get a shallow depth of field, like a DSLR camera. I hear the iPhone 7 Plus camera has a portrait setting that has a shallow depth of field so try that if your only goal is to get a blurry background (it’s called a bokeh).

Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

Shooting with backlight; that’s so interesting! I usually avoid backlight because I’m too lazy to adjust my settings, which means that the subject gets super shadowy. But I should definitely work on understanding the manual controls of my camera. // How exciting to have Carter join the TCP team! I’ve been loving all the photos. Is this Carter’s full-time job? Is she freelancing on the side? -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s


I would love some advice about how to take great pictures on an iPhone! When the light is great they seem to come out perfect, but I struggle on how to improve a picture in imperfect conditions. Any advice?

Linda Dumas

Hey Carter! I was wondering what program you use to photoshop your pictures? Do you have any suggestions about good photography books for a newbie?


Thank you for your great tips Carter!! Are you still using the Nikon? To what camera have you upgraded to?


How do you adjust so that people’s faces aren’t in shadow when you take a back lot photo? Would love to hear more specifics on everything you do during a shoot.

Liz Buoni

Do you have a favorite camera bag you use? I just bought a Nikon D3400 and have some upcoming travels this year. I’m hoping to find a stylish and chic camera bag that protects the camera and also looks more like a purse. Any ideas are appreciated! Thanks!