What's in My Camera Bag | EMP Behind the Scenes by Emily Margaret

I love it when photographers do "what's in my bag" posts.  I'm always curious to see what they take with them on shoots. Today I'm unpacking my bag and sharing what I usually bring on a typical portrait photo shoot.


First off, meet my girl Simmons (aka the Canon 7D). Isn't she darling? And before you ask, yes, I name my cameras, but only my cameras. And my car (but that's it). 

Simmons joined me in October of this year, and up until now I did all my work with a Canon Rebel t3i. My little rebel (also known as Knightley) has served me well these past few years, but I knew I was pushing its limits. After getting to use a few different cameras while second shooting this summer, I knew it was time to upgrade and so far I'm loving it. I'm still keeping Knightley around for backup and things like traveling when I need something a bit smaller + lighter.


My camera bag isn't an actual camera bag, but a messenger bag from the men's department at Target (why do the guys get the cooler bags?). To keep everything safe and organized, I use this Ape Case Cubeze padded bag insert. It holds my camera, memory cards, an extra lens and battery, and still leaves room for my S'well water bottle (not pictured) and lens cleaning kit to slip in the bag outside of the insert.


Here's a breakdown of the rest of the gear that I bring on a usual portrait shoot:

Lens cleaning kit / Canon 7D with BlackRapid strap (LOVE IT) / 50mm 1.8 lens / 18-55 kit lens / zippered pouch with extra memory cards / Not shown: battery charger / extra battery / business cards / ink pen / lip balm / bobby pins + hair band / granola bars /

What's inside your bag?

What I've learned in my first year of business by Emily Margaret

As I shared earlier this week, October 1 was the one year anniversary of my photography business. My little baby is growing up! In addition to celebrating my business' birthday with a mini session giveaway (which you can enter now through October 18th!) I thought I'd share a bit of what I've learned in my first year as a small business owner. (Beware, this is a wordier post than usual!)

  • Starting a business takes a LOT of work, especially prep work before you even start the actual business. You have to learn about the national and local laws regarding the type of business, taxes, and other permits and licenses you have to have. Fortunately, the internet is a great resource and there are many website dedicated to photographers.
  • A photography business is 20% photography, 80% other stuff. The actual amount of time that I spend taking photos is very small compared to the other tasks that I do. Most of that "other" time is taken up by photo editing, with the rest being spent bookkeeping, emailing, blogging, managing social media/marketing, doing taxes, blogging, and planning for shoots. If you're thinking about going into business, photography or other, you have to be okay with doing all the other things that come along with it, not just the parts you love. 
  • Network (in-person). Sure, everyone is on facebook and instagram and twitter, but only having an online presence won't get you the exposure that going out and meeting people will. Finding local groups and events to be involved in will allow people to actually meet you and learn about what you do, and you'll create real relationships with them. I have a few upcoming blog posts that will expound on this a bit more.
  • There's always more to learn, even if you think you've learned it all.
  • Set boundaries or else your business will take over your life. Seriously. I have a job in addition to having my business and I also want to have a social life and time to relax. Before I gave myself limits, I was spending too much of my time outside of work on my business and was actually starting to get burnt out. Now, I set limits and have a few tricks to keep things at a more manageable level, like taking social media-less weekends, being an email ninja, and setting time limits for getting things done (like writing blog posts or editing a set of photos).
  • Create systems. Ever since I've streamlined my workflows, it makes things so much faster and easier to keep up with. I have a workflow for things like client inquiries, photo editing, and blogging, and it's cut down a lot on the time I have to spend on each of them. It took me awhile and several revisions to get to this point, but it's definitely been a good decision.
  • Don't put things off for tomorrow when you can do it today.

This first year has been lots of learning and trying, and I'm excited to see what year two will hold. What is something you've learned lately, business-related or not?

EMP Turns 1 + Mini Session Giveaway! | Paducah KY photographer **GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED** by Emily Margaret

Last year on October 1st, I officially started my photography business, which now makes my business one year old! It's been a year full of learning, trying new things, traveling new places, meeting new people, and of course, taking lots of photos. While it's been lots of fun, it's also been difficult. Running a photography business is 20% taking photos and 80% other things like editing, bookkeeping, taxes, email, blogging, and social media management. I'm working on a blog post for later this week that will go into a bit more detail about my first year in business. But today to celebrate year 1, I'm giving away a mini photography session!

EMP Mini Session Giveaway

**GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED** This mini session I'm giving away is different from my normal mini sessions- instead my typical 20 minute session and 10 digital images, this one will be 30 minutes long and include 15 digital images. Please note that the mini session will take place in Paducah, KY, so please enter only if you live in the area or are able to travel to Paducah. For all the terms and conditions of this giveaway and to enter, see the Rafflecopter widget below.

Giveaway is hosted by Emily Margaret Photography and is open to U.S. residents age 18 and older. Giveaway is open from 10/5/2015 at 12:00 AM CST and closes 10/19/2015 at 12:00 AM CST. Giveaway is open to residents of the United States and winner of mini session must travel to Paducah KY to attend mini photography session, as mini session will take place in Paducah, KY, with exact location being determined by the photographer, Emily, of Emily Margaret Photography. Winner will be determined by Rafflecopter and will be contacted via the email address given at time of entry. Winner must respond within 48 hours or another winner will be chosen. Mini photography session is valued at $100 and may not be exchanged for cash or prize of equivalent value. Your name, email address, and any other information you give during entry will not be given out or sold. Mini session must take place before March 31, 2016. Winner must agree to additional terms as detailed in Mini Photography Session Contract which must be signed prior to mini session. If winner is unable to attend mini session, Emily Margaret Photography is not responsible for providing an alternate prize and Emily Margaret Photography reserves the right to reschedule or cancel mini session at anytime. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.

My top 10 must-haves for running my small photography business | Behind the Scenes by Emily Margaret

I love reading posts about how other creatives run their businesses and what things they like to use. Today, I thought I'd share my top 10 must-haves for running my photography business.

  1. My camera + lenses. I currently use a Canon T3i/600D and my 50 mm f/1.8 lens. The 50mm stays on my camera 95% of the time and it's my favorite for portraits because of the lovely bokeh it makes.
  2. Adobe Lightroom 5. My favorite editing program hands-down. I used to use Photoshop Elements, and still do occasionally, but Lightroom is so much faster and cuts my editing time way down.
  3. Google drive + Gmail. I store client contracts and other documents on google drive so I can easily access them and email them to clients. I love Gmail's  labels and categories, which help me organize my inbox. (Pro-tip: I'm a big believer in inbox zero.)
  4. Wave Apps. Wave is a free online accounting system and I use it to create invoices, keep track of payment dates, and general bookkeeping.
  5. Pixieset online photo galleries. I mostly deliver photos to my clients via USB drive but there are occasions when doing an online gallery is more convenient (like out of town clients or mini sessions). I can also offer prints and digital photos through the gallery, which is useful when my clients' family members want to order their own prints or digitals.
  6. My iPad. I use it to check my business and personal email and for listening to podcasts, Pandora, Coffitivity, or watching Netflix while I work.
  7. Squarespace - my website/blog host. I love love love Squarespace. From their clean + minimalist site templates to how easy it is to customize and use their websites, it's the perfect way to have a professional site or blog.
  8. My big white binder. I bought one of those generic 2" white binders from the office supply store and I use it to organize my client contracts, blog editorial calendars, client meeting notes, and other various business papers.
  9. Instagram. Yes, I'm including a social media platform in my list of business running must-haves. I'm working on a series of blog posts on why Instagram is my favorite form social media and how it's been such a great thing for my business. I use it for connecting  with clients, photographers, local businesses/creatives, and it's a great place for finding inspiration.
  10. Lotion and lip balm. I can't go anywhere without them. For everyday, I love oatmeal lotion, but when I want something with a fragrance I love philosophy's falling in love. As for lip balm, I have to be careful of which kind I use so right now I'm liking both the Say Yes to Coconut Naturally Smooth Lip Balm and Maybelline's Baby Lips Dr. Rescue.

If you run a blog/business, what are some of your top must-haves?