My name is Diana Elizabeth. I'm a photographer, writer, graphic designer and model who had memorable days reporting from the LA red carpet for E! Online. I love sharing my life as a creative professional and the things that I discover along the way - with camera in hand.

My husband and I live in a restored 1952 red brick home that sits on a former citrus grove in Phoenix. I love traveling, home improvement projects, sewing, and gardening. This is a glimpse into my life and work.

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Category Archives: For Photogs

I stared at the HTML coding and figured it out, just a few more coding here and there, and presto, the graphic I created was uploaded.  Little would I know the hobbies of a 15 year old would come in handy.  Then I started to think about all the other tidbits of hobbies of playing with design programs, enrolling in classes, small side projects I did as a teen that led me to where I am today – and also saves me money when I need to create.  In fact, I think knowing those things helps me jump into the next creative career.

Little stepping stones some call it, they are building blocks of a career, really, and as you continue down your path your noggin’ is full of skills, education, things no one can take away from you.

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As I have returned from my third blogging seminar/course/workshop in Los Angeles, I am reminded of how important it is to continue to pursue education.  I took countless and poured thousands of dollars – no exaggeration, into workshops, mentorships and conferences to grow in my photography.  I went fearless as a total loner to some events because I yearned to understand lighting, I purchased DVDs, books, enrolled in online classes, and completely emerged myself into the world until I was doggone sick of it that I started throwing away the magazines!

Even after earning my B.A. from UofA, I took a few design classes, ones that lasted a week but heavily focused on design programs.  I was also blessed to have the company I worked for at the time invest into the cost of the education.

I believe if you are going to be something, be a real one.  Learn the craft, the rules, take the time and spend the money.

Is there something you want to learn more about?  I am also thankful to my friends who have helped make connections for me to help me bloom into a new career – the support of knowing I had a mortgage to pay, refusing to take anything for free, referred my services to anyone who needed a photo.  To this very today I have a list of people I have to thank for the introductions, my heart swells with gratitude.

Maybe this is the time for you to step out – you’ve said goodbye to that unhealthy relationship, you’re tired of building up someone else’s dream, or you just have this new passion ignited in your heart – now’s a better time than any to step out on a limb – or on the next stepping stone.  This past month I’ve seen an increase in my prerecorded online photography workshops which makes me happy to see there are still photographers investing into learning!

If there’s something that scares you, makes you curious, or something you wish you could do, consider enrolling in a class.  Don’t let fear paralyze you from learning!  Confidence is the key to anything and the more equipped you are with knowledge, the more you can conquer the world!  And if there’s nothing you want to pursue now, what about a friend, what can you do for her to help her pursue her dreams?

Call to Action

  • Write down a list of what you want to attend – conference, workshop.  What is the cost?  Make it a goal to save up!
  • Send an email to friends telling them of your new endeavor or a reminder of what you do and ask for their support – share on FB, think of you when the services are needed, friends are there to help!
  • Reach out to friends and ask them, “What are you focusing on and how can I help you get business?”

If you’re a blossoming photographer, read my interview on Rock the Shoot’s blog.  I hope it inspires you.

Diana Elizabeth says it’s always a good thing to explore new interests.  Go get ‘em.

For Photogs

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I’m going to start a very slow series – slow as in – I’m not sure when the next tip is coming, haha!  But, I know this needs to be shared, and I want to help with your shooting and showcasing techniques that you might find helpful in attracting certain clients.

When I first entered weddings I started at $1,200 for 8 hours of coverage and that was made before I paid my second shooter Amy who has been by my side from day one!

I have loved every single one of my clients from the beginning of my career to now, but when I first began, my goal was to get better at my photography talents, continually learn, and to charge more.  My package is now at $6,000 and it’s taken a lot of workshops, marketing, equipment, hard work and money to get to where I am – that’s where the price increase is justified.

With that said, I know some of you want to increase sales, bookings, and perhaps reach a new clientele.  So today, let’s talk about the important shoe shot.

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Know your shoe designers

If you’re one of my 10 male readers, you should start watching the Style Network, pick up Vogue, or ask your girlfriends the names of labels.  Louboutin (not the same as Louis Vuitton even though it sounds close), Valentino, Jimmy Choo, Manolo, maybe you can turn on Sex and the City to hear what Carrie talks about – shoes!

If you have a bride who didn’t buy designer shoes, do not showcase the label, don’t emphasize a huge shoot from up top because no one cares, including the bride because that’s not why she bought those shoes.  She bought them because they are cute.  So, prop the shoes creatively and show the details of the shoe.  By not showcasing the non-label, when you blog post it potential clients will focus on the shot itself, not being distracted by the Mossimo shoes, other random thoughts, and perhaps disregarding your photography services.

Photographing Non Designer Shoes

Now the following images are by the one and only Kate Spade but here are some ideas where you don’t see the label that still allows you to show off the cuteness of the shoe.  You can do this with non designer shoes because I’m sure they’re still cute, after all the bride liked them enough to wear on her big day.

Take any shoe sole pads out too.

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You want to make people love your shot of the shoe, not be distracted by the non-designer label.  Below, these are designer,but nevermind that, showcase the back details!

Shooting Tip: Shallow depth of field, shoot the shoe detail, focusing on the end of the shoe.   Shoot the shoes on with the bride wearing them.

Showcasing Designer Shoes

If you have a stylish bride who spends $1,200 on an amazing pair of Louboutins, Jimmy Choo’s, or Valentino’s, you better showcase that label because that tag alone cost half the price of the shoe.  Make sure it’s real big on your blog to attract the clients that will think, “Oh my gosh those shoes, I die!”   I know this sounds crazy, but even the designer labels are pretty.  They just are.

Shooting Tip: Shoot at an F stop that focuses on the label AND the shoe detail, red sole included if applicable – avoid missing the mark and only having the label in focus.

The goal is to shoot the shoes tastefully showcasing the designer because it’s important to the bride, but also for this bride, the shoes were just as important as the dress!

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I even spotted the bridesmaid and had to pull her aside to snap a photo of the red sole!  But of course, I focus on her because the photo is about how gorgeous and stylish she is, but it’s a just a little hint of the obvious.

Do this with guests too – if you see a red sole, chase it like there’s a 50% off clearance on them! In my dreams…

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 Diana Elizabeth had Badgley Mischka shoes on her wedding day – designer but not overly priced.

For Photogs

Ha – get it. It was 3:30 p.m. on a day when I needed to take pictures of some polish for a blog post.  I went around the house (because outside is too hot and I was also still in my pajamas – don’t judge me).

As I tried to find good lighting, I thought these shots would turn into a good blog post on lighting.

Backlighting

Let’s start with the obvious, go-to lighting type – backlighting.  While it’s definitely a good go-to way for portraits, this is just a terrible photo.  The background is blown out and while it might be the first thought of good photography, I’m going to be real – not all backlighting is good.  This is a perfect example.  Why backlight inside? In some cases it might be great but in this instance, I don’t think so.

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Window Light

I turned the polishes around to get the window lighting – much better.  I’m not absolutely crazy about the background light, I could have pulled the curtains to have less distractions and diffuse the light in the back.  This shot was better than the first shot but it still didn’t do it for me.  My kitchen lighting during that time was a bit too dark and the polished look dark therefore this photo just looked drab.

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Bird’s eye

I think of this lighting is fun, maybe for small objects.  I’m always thinking wedding details.  I do think wedding details should be outside – even if it’s blazing hot outside because you can’t beat natural light.  I think an aerial view is still fun especially if you find a good texture – like my concrete island.  In this case, I don’t think my background complimented what I was photographing.

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Side window light, lighter room

I walked around my house poking my head into rooms.  Our mirror dresser right by the window that faces south was the answer – the background is light and it was a good contract with the nail polish colors and caps.  The light was coming from my right side as I was looking at these bottles.  This was clearly the winner for these small subjects.

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The key is, don’t be lazy and don’t be scared to try something else.  If you don’t love the photo, take another, move, change the direction of light, change the surrounding.  Do not move onto to the next detail until you feel you nailed your shot.  If you can’t see the object well in that lighting, your camera won’t either, trust your eyes.

Diana Elizabeth says also be cautious about the colors around – warm tones like brick can bounce colors around, this can be fixed in post a bit, but it’s best to try to find what will create less work in post.

For Photogs

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If I had to choose my favorite portrait subject, I would say the expectant mamas!  There’s something so fun about that lovely bump, the glow and the excitement.  I don’t mind if it’s just the mom or the entire fam, if the husband is up for it, fantastic, if not, I’ve got a gorgeous girl to myself and we can go as long as she wants!

Here are some ideas for posing for maternity.

The looking down at the belly shot

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I always prefer the leg closest to me is bent, not the one further from the camera.  If you look at images where the other knee is bent, it just looks off.

Remember you still focus on the face, and make sure belly is in focus.  In certain positions it’s OK if the belly isn’t completely in focus as long as the face is – but when the belly makes the debut and it’s all about the belly…then focus on it!

Placing things in front or on the belly

In this case, Colleen was expecting twins!

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Laying down

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The every day view

As in, the mom’s perspective.

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Sibling love

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Just looking down

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Even with the mama looking down, focus on her face.  Her belly should be on the same perpendicular line that it should fall in focus as well.

Straight on Portrait

The oh hey, I’m gorgeous, and I’m also with child.

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Walking

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Couple Embraces

The overdone twist posing can be complicated – I try not to win creative twister pose award, I’m trying to convey a feeling – a natural, caught in the moment feeling with a couple. Twist if you must, but then find a way to rotate a bit to make it a bit more comfortable looking.

This is one of the most pinned photos of mine on Pinterest, I love the kiss on the head.

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Traditional is not boring, it’s classic.

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This one just worked out so nicely.

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Sassy mama pose

Now cue the wind!

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I’ve always loved this one, maybe it’s due to many factors – the wind, the muted colors, the gorgeous mama!

The baby

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The shoes that will be filled

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Do you shoot maternity?  Do you prefer just the mom or the whole family, or just the couple?  Have you done one yourself and have a preference?

 Diana Elizabeth thinks of the bump as one of the most fun (live) props to work with!

For Photogs

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The trendy thing to do in Phoenix during the summer is not what you may think (stay indoors and do a get out of dodge trip) but rather – stay in town and do a staycation!  The rates at hotels are cheap, there are many spa discounts, and you can use someone else’s AC to cool off!  Out on newsstands now is PHOENIX magazine’s summer Staycation guide featuring the Valley’s best staycation offers.

Last month before I headed to France I shot at the Four Seasons in Scottsdale this lovely FORD model Daniela Lazar who stayed the night in her Jeep before our shoot!  She came in town from San Diego and forgot her house keys and was a trooper and slept in her car with the windows cracked – and she looked like this the next day.

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Isn’t she darling?  I was crazy about this one piece!

The requested look was Old Hollywood glam, so with the help of Lizzy Marsh, we nailed it.  You may notice the heavy composition with lots of margin space – when you shoot editorial you always take a step back for the page bleeds and leave plenty of room at the top for story headlines and potential cover option.

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I love this shot below.  A reflector was used to bounce the light back onto her and I love how different it makes her look.

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PHOENIX magazine’s lovely intern Cierra came along and created this sweet video of the behind the scenes.  Watch me in action and see what it’s like to shoot for a magazine! On mobile, click here.

If you pick up the issue, peek at the contributors, you can see a sweet writeup about me written by intern Garrett.

Model Daniela Lazar from FORD/RBA for PHOENIX magazine.  Shot at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale.

{Makeup and hair: Lizzy Marsh}

Diana Elizabeth started the shoot a little after 8 in the morning to avoid the heat and intense sun.  

For Photogs, My Work

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Enjoy a sweet morning in a peach orchard at Schnepf Farms.

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Time to make some peach pies!  Thanks Schnepf Farms for your hospitality!  Models: Julie + Amaya Read for PHOENIX magazine.

Equipment used: Canon 5D Mark III + battery grip / 50mm f/1.2L / 35mm f/1.4L / UNDFIND One Bag + Bloom Theory Strap / Hufa Lens Cap Clip + Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket

Diana Elizabeth thinks families should hire a photographer for lifestyle experiences such as these, what a great way to document a fun sweet time!

For Photogs, My Work

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Almost two years ago, I was thisclose to quitting my photography career.  This would have been insane, I was doing pretty well, but I was overwhelmed.

I was losing my passion for photography and I thought, oh great, now what will I do if this is all over?

I realized the problem was – I was doing too much, and too much of the same stuff. I had done so much during my first year out of the entrepreneur gates – I was constantly booking, marketing, posting, and blogging. I rarely had a day where I wasn’t meeting a connection, shooting, or editing. I was religiously reading photography blogs, attending workshops every few months, growing, learning – as every serious photographer who wants to build a serious career out of photography does.

I worked weekends, worked late into the nights because I loved it, and then, and finally, it all caught up to me.   I was drained – emotionally and creatively.  I would almost cry when a shoot was approaching, and then I realized I was busy, but busy doing things that I was no longer passionate about, which in turn, made me feel like I was a hamster on a wheel going nowhere, and what I really wanted to be was a wild stallion able to run free and change direction just like the wind.

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This is what I had to do to save my sanity, mind, and photography career:

  • I stop shooting everyone who had a business for free.  Even though I wanted to help, and some were good causes, I had no time left to rest.
  • I stopped shooting in exchange for credit lines.  They don’t pay the bills, and I realized I didn’t need to expand my portfolio or make connections – connections come with publications who respect the time and talents of a professional.
  • I stopped reading photography magazines.  I threw them straight in the trash or gave them to budding photographer friends.  Reading them only made me feel like I was constantly behind.
  • I stopped (temporarily) following wedding blogs or other photographers just because I needed a breather to create on my own and not feel inadequate. (Read this essay for more: “Why I hate Wedding Photography”)
  • I also stopped reading business magazines, anything that made me feel like I was constantly running a race.  My mind wanted to explode.
  • I had to remind myself to stop comparing myself to others.
  • I redecorated my office.  I took down a lot of my work so I could lessen the pressure  I had on myself to constantly be doing photography. I wanted to enjoy it again without feeling the pressure that if I wasn’t doing it, I had to be thinking about it.
  • I started to make a list of what subjects I enjoyed photographing, and what I didn’t.  That included photographing babies, that went on the no list and I made a friend who does it well and I refer to her.
  • I taught up and coming photographers because seeing their excitement reminded myself why I fell in love with photography – it helped tremendously.
  • I stopped booking weddings.  I turned down a ton of inquiries, even those who had the sweetest emails. I passed along the referrals.  I still do weddings, but for six months, I said no.  I needed the break.
  • I now have many requirements before I agree to work a wedding.  This includes a first look and a wedding planner.  If I’m going to do a job, I want to make sure I enjoy it , it is structured, I am able to perform my best during that time, and the couple is a perfect fit.
  • I stopped writing for online photography sites.  I was overwhelmed with the weekly articles.  I stepped away and took a break.  Months later, I was approached by another site and I had enough rest to return to instructing.
  • I decided to stop shooting a specific subject and consider other areas – corporate, editorial, and so on.
  • I increased my pricing so I could shoot less frequently but still make the same amount.
  • I learned how to say no.
  • I learned that it’s OK to not have the same success as every one else.

I think it can be so easy to fall in love with something, want to do it for a career because of that saying that puts the pressure on the entrepreneur spirit – Do what you love.  Because, if you aren’t, that must mean you’re just plain miserable every day.

But if we’re not careful, taking on too much to do what we love can make us miserable.

By setting boundaries, limiting my bookings, and knowing that I didn’t need the so called opportunity for a credit line, I was able to free up time.  Time to rest, time to enjoy life, and the time I always wanted to have which is why I became a photographer in the first place.

That time has been long in the past, but it was a tough experience to over come, a sheer feeling of panic that if I wouldn’t be able to over come the feeling, my career was over.  Now crazy back in love with photography, you’ll only see me doing what really moves me.

Have you ever been overwhelmed by what you do, photography or not?  Did you ever get over it or did you quit?

Diana Elizabeth says it’s OK to change direction because life is always about discovering what the next thing that will challenge you.  Being burnt out is normal, it’s not failure and walking away from something that isn’t a fit any longer is better than staying and being miserable.  

For Photogs

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Remember last summer when I had a crazy empty office because I just felt like I needed to revamp myself for the new direction I was going in – blogging.  Here’s what my office used to look like.   It was still great.  I then showed an update last fall here.

But I got a new vintage hand-painted dresser from England so I had to do an update post.  And I also learned you should take interior shots with all natural light.

Oh dear, time to redo every shot of my house this summer.  So here we start with the office.

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My watercolor illustration was created by the fabulous Inslee.  I love her talents!

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I put a Pottery Barn curtain rod up, and bought curtains from Target.  To be honest, I’m still not sure about the curtains and it’s been over a year.  I’m still looking for something else, but it’s at the bottom of my list.

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My wonderful Ricki stained this piece for me.  So much of my organization and domestic abilities are attributed to Ricki pouring into me and encouraging me.

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The desk was my dad’s.  It had old yucky wood laminate on the top and I bought a stainless steel top that had adhesive on the back I found years ago from watching an HGTV show.  Don’t forget to buy the trimmer, you can’t do without it.

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Life is about the relationships you make.  Just a few favorite shots and people, more are on my corkboard that I see everyday.  I miss my Yun Yun so much (she’s in the white frame).

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As always, any questions just ask.  If you’ve done a post sharing your space please share!

Farm house dining table: Ballard Designs / White desk: Vintage, Dad’s / Bird chandelier: The French Bee / Hand painted English dresser: Antique Gatherings / White chairs with blue damask fabric: Restoration Plantation / Jute rug: Pottery Barn / Bulletin board: DIY Staples board covered in white duck cloth and upholstery nails / Key hole door knobs on closet and wall knobs: Anthropologie / Cubby Organizer: Pottery Barn / French door installation contractor: Steven D Chochran, Inc. / Handyman and Painter: Dennis of Lowan Handyman Services, LLC / Curtain Rod and clips: Pottery Barn / Curtains: Target / Ladder shelf: Sweet Salvage, refinished by Ricki / Clock:Magpie Lovely / Vintage architecture frame: Scottsdale Marketplace / Modern gold clip lamp: Land of Nod / Pink greek key chairs, chair sketch reproduction prints + blue ottoman: One Kings Lane – Sign up today on OKL for a $15 credit for purchases of $30 or more.  / LOVE sign: Made by Girl / Pillows: Target (diamond), Pottery Barn (dog), Ballard Designs (custom initial) / White laser cut magazine holders: The Container Store

Equipment used: Canon 5D Mark III / 35mm f/1.4 L / Wireless Shutter Release Remote / Manfrotto 190XProB Pro Tripod / Manfrotto Ball Head with Quick Release

Diana Elizabeth is done decorating, but she isn’t sure how to style her corkboard, so that’s on the to-do summer list.

For Photogs, Home

photo1 Super Deluxe strap by Sarah Frances Kuhn on Sony NEX / Top: Anthropologie (old)

I am getting ready to take off to the South of France for a 12-day trip this weekend!  I never knew what blogging would bring but I am so grateful – to travel the world, that’s what makes me feel giddy like a child!

I’m just about packed.

If someone invites you on a trip overseas, even if it’s a destination wedding, you do not turn it down.  It may be your only opportunity or excuse you’d ever have to go and explore the world.

There are many trips I regret passing up – Japan and China with my mom and brother, I won’t even tell you what I did that summer but choosing to stay in Tucson (even for an internship) is pathetic.  I also bailed on a Spain trip, but hopefully that will be rescheduled in the near future.  Then there was that time when my best guy friend from college got married in Capri, Italy.  We couldn’t make it and I am kicking myself!

So when it came to this France trip, I would cancel everything to go, this is a once in a lifetime all expenses paid opportunity.  Some things in life you can postpone or redo, but not a trip like this!  Here’s what I’ve packed…

Travel accessories

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Packing the international convertor in my London Fog Hardside Spinner, four wheels are better than two I have learned.  I’ve had a passport since I was a baby, my mom took me to Taiwan to see her family and I’ve just always had to have an updated one for sporadic international trips – I’m not keen on my latest photo but I’m happy to have this passport cover (mine is turquoise), a gift from Fawn who I traveled to London and Paris with years ago.  My camera equipment will be in this padded ONA bag in my carry on bag, the Cuyana long tote.

Equipment + Backup Chargers

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See this post for product links

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I’m bringing this Poweradd Pilot X1 5200mAh Portable Charger Backup, $13.99 that will recharge my devices, up to 3x for my iPhone, and also my other photo devices. I’m bringing a total of 3 photo devices – (1) the Sony Qx10, (2) Sony NEX 5-R, (3) my Canon Powershot S100.  This should mean that I am covered to capture all that I see, and if something loses juice, I can charge it while using my backup photo capture device.  I also take several SD cards with me, the largest being 64MB. I shoot in JPG format and I can still do light edits if necessary before I print an album.

Extra fun things

A new journal from TJ Maxx to document the adventure, and a photo printer.  Yup.

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Last summer when I explored Ireland, Melayne brought her Polaroid Z2300.  I paid an extra $20 to get the color blue, so worth it, right?  At the end of each day, we’d pick a few favorite photos taken with my “better camera” insert the SD card into the printer and print a few, throw it in journal pages and write some observations.  Daily I emailed family, hubby and a few best friends at the closing of each day in Ireland and London just to let them know what I explored, where I was and attached photos, but in these journal pages – I wrote other things.

Like, The guy named Conell who took our photo at the rope bridge looked like a young Ryan Gosling.  Fun tidbits, reminders to connect photos with thoughts and when I could sit down and write a post, I’d have several notes, the emails printed out, and the journal.  I can’t wait to do it again.

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You can also take photos (10MP size) and video with the Polaroid, there’s an internal 32MB of internal space and 4GB of external space you can add an SD card for more memory.

The Purses/Bags

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The two bags I will be taking with me are the Eaton Shoulder Bag in Printed Haircalf and Kensington Satchel in black, both by Madewell.  Both will fit all of my equipment in it perfectly and both have cross body straps – a necessity for a travel purse in my opinion.  I will also not be taking my designer wallet and instead will use a clutch similar to this (mine is leopard and no longer available) but this in ticking stripe is the same concept.  It will double as a clutch for dinner on the river cruise.

Posts will be scheduled to go up while I am gone, and I may check in so stay tuned.  Au revoir!

Diana Elizabeth doesn’t speak a lick of French so she hopes they will be graceful to her.  She remembers the food in Paris was divine so she is pretty sure the food will be amazing everywhere else!

For Photogs, Style, Travel

Summer has officially begun!  Any fun summer trips ahead?

How about a few fun and affordable things you can do to upgrade your equipment for your summer trips under $100 – you don’t have to overhaul it and buy a completely new X, Y, and Z, just see!

#1 Add Wi-Fi to your camera 

Most new cameras, including a few DSLRs and mirrorless cameras (my buddy the Sony NEX included), have wi-fi enable features.  But what if your camera doesn’t have that feature – including your $3500 Canon 5D Mark III body that really should have like, everything?  No worries. No need to buy the latest camera or pay extra for those who had wi-fi envy.  You can now make any camera, have wi-fi with a card!

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Eye-Fi Mobi SD card 8GB for $44, 16GB for $70, and 32GB for $85.  This is good because I don’t want to break up with my Canon Powershot S100 which is the loveliest point and shoot.

Open up an App, enter the password and you can get a copy on your phone.

#2 Turn any bag into a camera bag

Ask for my opinion on camera/purse bags and I’ll just tell you they’re all ugly and to buy a Louis Vuitton and make it a camera bag – I would give you the same response in regards to diaper bags.  I use the ONA Camera Insert to carry my Sony NEX and all four lenses in any bag.

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ONA Camera Insert, $69

#3 Take your own Selfies, but without your arm in the way

Selfies get so much of your head and no enough of the scenery.  I know, that’s the purpose of a selfie, but maybe, just maybe you’re going somewhere cool and you want more of the scenery.  You know when you give a stranger your camera and you get it back and you’re like, Oh great, a blind monkey could’ve done better?

Try this compact travel tripod, this one is coming with me to France next week.

51sCEhmmjfL._SL1500_ Aluminum travel tripod, $20

Note, this is NOT for DSLRs, this would be for a point and shoot, something lightweight, even a mirrorless camera and you would need a remote release.  Do not email me complaining if your DSLR goes tumbling down the hill on this – had to say it, you know there’s always one.

Happy vacay shooting!

Diana Elizabeth will be sharing all the travel equipment she’ll be taking with her next Wednesday, she bought something you might be surprised about, it’s very old school, turned new school.

For Photogs

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