One of the biggest struggles I faced when I first began my photography journey was wondering whether or not the gear I was using was good enough. I wondered what the pros were using? How were they creating such magical pictures? ... And how could I do the same? One thing I want to encourage you in is believing in yourself and not in your gear. Your gear is simply the tools you use to create your image, but with practice, a little ingenuity, and trusting yourself, you can make magical photos.

Today I'm sharing my favorite gear for styled stock photography and I'm also going to share a few tips and tricks for alternatives. 


Nikon D700 : The Nikon D700 has been retired, but here is it's counterpart. The Nikon D700 is ideal for me when shooting styled stock because it's full frame, allowing me to get more into frame. I often pair the D700 with the 50mm. If you're shooting with a crop sensor camera body and you're struggling to get everything in frame, the 35mm would be great to pair with it. 

Nikon D300s : The Nikon D300s is also retired, but we love this camera because it has video. We don't do a lot of video right now when shooting Flatlay, but it's still great to have. I pair the 35mm with the Nikon D300s because it's a crop sensor camera body. The Nikon D300s paired with the 35mm is very similar to the Nikon D700 paired with the 50mm. 

Alternatives : Nearly all the DSLR's that are released these days are phenomenal. Learn your camera, read your camera manual and really learn lighting, and you'll be making magical photos in no time. 

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Nikkor 35mm : As I mentioned above, I often pair the 35mm with the Nikon D300s. This is a solid shooting lens with a 1.8 aperture. When shooting Flatlay and styled stock photos I rarely shoot with an aperture under 2.8, so needing a lens with a 1.4 aperture isn't really something I need right now. 

Nikkor 50mm : The 50mm is what I pair with the Nikon D700. For my personal preferences I don't like to pair anything under the 50mm with the D700 because it's a bit to wide. If you were shooting something like landscapes or cityscapes, wide angle lenses are ideal, but when shooting Flaylay or styled stock, or even lifestyle the 50mm is on point. 

Alternatives: In photography, lenses really do make all the difference. I would recommend investing in your lenses before you do anything else. The 50mm and the 35mm are both great jumping off points. If you are shooting with the stock lens that came with your camera don't be discouraged. I would encourage you to (1) practice shooting outside where you don't have to fight the light. Fighting light is often the biggest struggle. (2) Learn what your lens and camera are capable of by shooting at different apertures. 


Softboxes : I haven't always shot with softboxes, but I do really love them, they are incredibly convenient. Softboxes aren't necessary when shooting Flatlay or styled stock, but they are helpful when trying to fill out the light in a room. You want to always be shooting with natural light, but if your light is uneven then softboxes really help to insure your light is even all around. I often shoot with natural light as my main source of light and I'll set up my softboxes to bounce light off the ceiling to fill in the rest of the light in the room. 

Alternatives: Amazon has a variety of softboxes to choose from ranging in price. If your industrious and enjoy DIYs you can find a variety of DIY softboxes online too. 

Manfrotto Tripod : This tripod is not specific to Flatlay, as an ideal Flatlay tripod would have a horizontal harm like this one. But this particular tripod has been working great for me, so I love it, haha! I have had this tripod for years and since it is working for me, I have never felt the need to get something different. This one works well because it has a ball head which allows me to turn the camera face down. 

Light Reflector Set : My light reflector is maybe one of my favorite and most used photography accessory. I have used it in different situations to reflect light, but I also use it to diffuse light. Diffusing light is what I use it for most these days, as I need soft even light when shooting Flaylay and styled stock.

Alternatives: There are a variety of items that you can use as an alternative to diffuse and reflect light. White foam core boards are perfect for reflecting light and if you need to diffuse and soften light a white sheet does the job.  

Great photography comes from more then just the gear we use. It comes from practice, patience, study, and hard work. What are some of your favorite photography accessories? What are some of your favorite photography hacks? xoxo. Samantha


I am jumping in super quick before jetting off again, whew. We got home late Tuesday evening, I spent most of yesterday unpacking and making our house look normal again, haha! Now I'm packing again, man oh man. 

For the last two weeks, Tyler and I were away for Christmas. Going home for Christmas is one of my favorite things. Long story short we spend every moment possible with friends and family that we hardly get to see. During this particular trip I was able to meet up with Courtney, of A + Life. I've actually known Courtney for a long time. She and I met through blogging, but I finally set up a time to meet with her and do a photo shoot. Blog friends are the best of friends. 

I love doing photo shoot with bloggers because they always do great in front of the camera. Courtney was so fun and sweet to work with. She did phenomenal at taking direction, which was super awesome, because I don't always feel super great at giving direction. And she looks absolutely beautiful, don't ya think? :) 


Since today is quick I want to leave you with two quick tips. One, keep your body engaged toward the camera. When you face the camera, lean in toward the camera or take one step forward. Look at the second photo in this series. Courtney is standing against a wall, but I asked her to lean in toward me with her left shoulder, twisting her torso toward me.

Two, keep your chin down. Don't look down, but keep your chin down. By nature we always want to look up or tilt our head back... I do this too. But do your best to keep your chin down, it will help define your face. 

That's all for today, can't wait to share with you from this next adventure we're off too! xoxo. Samantha 


Hi guys, so I've had a few people ask about my LowePro Photo Hatchback on IG, so I thought I would share a bit more and let you take a peak inside. My LowePro is one of the smaller versions of the hatchback, which is rather perfect for me because I'm kind of small and for the amount of gear I like to carry it works perfectly.



We originally picked out the hatchback because we needed a really good hiking pack and we loved it so much that we started carrying it every where. I took my pack to Colorado this year... I take my pack every time we go to New York City... it goes with me everywhere. The back of the pack and the shoulder straps are nicely padded.  The Hatchback also has a chest and waist strap, which help distribute the weight. Even if I'm not using the chest and waist strap, the weight is evenly distributed and there are pockets for nearly everything.

The main camera compartment is on the back side of the pack and has extra padding for protection. I always put one of my cameras in the back compartment with a few accessories and the other camera goes inside the front compartment. For this trip I brought my mini instax, which fit nicely in the front compartment with one of my DSLRs. I am also able to get a small zip pouch, snacks, and more accessories packed away.

Another great thing about the Hatchback is that it cleans up great. There have been plenty of times we have returned from long sweaty hikes and I'm able to wipe down the pack and spray it with some febreze and it's good as new. What are some of you favorite camera packs? xoxo. Samantha


Tyler and I have been together for almost 9 years, that is so crazy! We've been married for almost 5 years... boy does time fly. When Tyler and I first started dating, point-n-shoots were all the rage. Man, I wish I still had mine so I could show you how cool I was, haha! ;) Our selfie game was strong. We took pictures of everything... every date night, every car ride, every trip for ice cream, every gingerbread house we made, every pumpkin we carved... everything. 

But it's been 9 years, remember? And we're not always the best at capturing our time together. We're super great at taking photos while were out on adventures, but getting photos of us together is hard. And getting photos of us together doing everyday things is even harder. So I was inspired to get us back to our roots and do something like we would have done when we were dating... taking everyday moment photos, capturing a date night in and sharing with you the photography tips to get you there too. 


If you've been hanging out here for any length of time you know I harp about tripods. Tyler and I rarely get a picture together unless we have a tripod. When you're prepping for your photos remember your tripod. If you don't have a tripod, don't stress, find somewhere to set you camera up; a bookshelf, a chair, a stack of books. Get creative. :) 

Pro tip: Don't get stuck in one tripod location or position. Move your tripod around. Tilt you camera. Lower your tripod. Make your tripod do what you want it to do. It look me a long time to get comfortable with moving and changing my tripod. It felt like so much work, but getting creative with your tripod forces you to take better photos. 


ISO is tricky and it's also sensitive to each camera. Even if you're using a tripod, you will most likely have to increase your ISO. Our apartment light isn't super great, so I knew we would have to increase our ISO, which increases our camera's sensitivity to light. If you're shooting in low light take a few test shots to determine how noisy your photos get based on your ISO. I'm impartial to noise or grain in my photos so I always err on the side of a low ISO. For these particular photos I chose only had to increase my ISO to 350, which ins't much since most cameras ISO range up into the 1000's+. I chose this ISO in tandem with my tripod and shutter speed. Let's talk about how they all work together... 


I knew going into these photos a variety of technical things had to happen. I knew we would need our tripod; one, because something needed to hold the camera, haha! Two, because I knew we would need a relatively slow shutter speed. Because I could slow down the shutter, I knew, that I could hold off on increasing the ISO too much. We used a variety of shutter speeds, ranging from 1/8 to 1/30. Without a tripod both of those shutter speeds would result in a little ghosting in our photos, so a tripod was very necessary. 


We've talked about ISO and shutter speed, now lets talk about how we can gauge the light and temperature of our photos. Gauging the light is important since we're shooting inside and it's important based on the time of day we're shooting. If it's completely dark outside and we're shooting with artificial light inside, it's important to understand how that lighting effects our photos and the temperature of our photos. If you review all the photos in this post you may notice there are cool and warm tones. This almost always happens in our apartment because the light streamy into the window has a cool temperature. The light that is being reflected inside is often a little warmer. It's frustrating at times, but because I can see it in the photos and now why it's happening, it's easier to accept, ha! Know that your everyday photos moments in your home may have a variety of temperature and tone, it's it's totally okay. 


One thing that I've learned is that when we shoot inside and the lighting isn't the greatest a super easy fix is to turn the photo black and white. This hides all the weird light and distractions. I'm still learning the best tricks to editing in black and white, but we all start somewhere. :) 


When Tyler and I switched from using our point-n-shoot to shooting with our tripod and DSRL (way back when) I was kind of overwhelmed. Thinking back on it... it may be been me that stopped wanting pictures, because I would always get overwhelmed, haha! But I'm here to tell you not to get overwhelmed and to have fun! Pick up some fun snacks and make your evening memorable. These details and fun snacks will really add to your photos. Plus, it will add to your memories and snacks are a must-have on movie nights, right? :)  Tyler and I swung by Walmart to pick ups some snacks. We grabbed some Pop Secret and some fun candy... though Tyler doesn't really like candy... so it was mostly me picking out candy, haha! Plus, if you buy 2 Pop-Secret 10 ct or 10+2 ct bonus packs at Walmart between 12/7/16 - 1/8/17, you get an $8 credit toward a ticket to the Assassin’s Creed movie (while supplies last, of course.)

Fun fact guys, Tyler and I LOVE movies. We love watching movies at home and we love going to movies, but, we're in a season where we're trying to pay off student loans, so we're not able to go to movies as often as we would like. BUT, how great is it that you can get $8 credit towards movies tickets! Also, Tyler is a pretty big fan of the Assassin's Creed game so we have high hopes for this movie! 


Aside from all the technical tips, I think being intentional is incredibly important. No one is going to take pictures for us. Our every day moments will continue to pass us by unless we slow down and capture them. It's really easy for me to rush through each day trying to get as much done as possible, but for us to slow down and take photos, it took being intentional. I want to remember our every day moments; the quiet moments, the still moments. The moments that were simple, yet beautiful. 


I really wanted to include this one because I wanted to encourage anyone who is just starting out. Anyone who has just started their photography journey... keep practicing guys. Practice, practice, and practice some more. One of the hardest things for me when I first started was seeing how great everyone else was. I never thought I would get there. Practice. Practice gets us there. Practice is still getting me there. 

Who's taking photos this holiday season? This really has inspired me to get more pictures with Tyler... to set up our tripod and capture our moments. What are some of your favorite ways to capture your memories sans tripod? I would love to hear! I would also love to see your work, hashtag #elahtree and join our community! xoxo. Samantha

Guys, posts like this make it possible for me to keep bringing you rad photography tips. So get out there, buy some popcorn, and take some rad photos! ;) 

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Pop Secret, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #Pop4AssassinsCreed