blog chat :: what do you suggest?

“i’m just starting out in photography – what would you suggest for me in terms of equipment, training, books?” – gina

hello there, we’re back with another someone asked feature and today we have something a little more technical! gina is a creative person and a blogger. as most people who are creatives and do something by hand, gina feels the need of knowing a little bit more about photography, but maybe she feels a bit confused about all the information out there! so i thought it could be interesting to share my photography tips, regarding equipment and training resources!

Food Photography // Jackie Rueda Photography

so, in case you don’t know, i’m a canon girl. i started out with canon, because my first point and shoot camera was a canon, and as i learned to manage their settings and language, i became hooked to this brand. when i upgraded my camera, it was obvious for me that i would go with a canon model. i have just a slight idea about nikon models, but as i don’t know these cameras, i won’t be talking about them, ok? when i decided that it was more than time to upgrade my camera, i had no idea about what to buy, asides from the brand. i asked on a local shop and the man asked me right away “how much do you want to spend?” and that question was not right for me. i wanted to tell him what i wanted to do in photography, so that he could point a good camera and then i would save for it. i changed my mind several times, before buying a new camera. first i wanted a canon 50d, then i thought “oh what the heck, if i’m going to save, let’s save for a better one, so let’s save for a 7d!”. and i ended up buying a 550d, which is inferior to these, but it was urgent for me to upgrade and i couldn’t save anymore, so i opted for a canon 550d, the body only.

Food Photography // Jackie Rueda Photography

then i was having major doubts about the lens. i knew that for the kind of work i wanted to do, a kit lens would not be good enough for me, as most photographers say, those kit lenses are a bit crappy. but i had no idea of what to choose, as all those numbers felt so confusing. so i asked my friend jackie rueda for a tip on the lens and she told me to get the 50mm 1.4, but if i wasn’t able to spend that much, the 1.8 would be good as well. so i took her words and went ahead and bought the 50mm 1.8. i won’t be talking much about what the numbers mean, but i’ll just say that this was the best decision ever. that lens which costs around 100€ was amazing! i was in heaven with that much change from a point-and-shoot to a dslr and such a beauty of a lens.

Food Photography // Jackie Rueda Photography

the 50mm is what is called a prime lens, because it’s fixed, which means it doesn’t zoom. usually people who are curious about photography, but have not a single idea about it, ask “what??? no zoom? that’s a crappy lens, right?!” noooo, this is a great lens, and if there’s no zoom, you better get your legs exercised then, because those will be your zoom. having a prime lens will give you much more quality and will make you challenge yourself into a whole new level. plus, this lens is very light and small, so if you like to carry your camera around, this will be perfect! and then being a 1.8 means that allows you much more light than the kit lens, which are usually 3.5-5.6. though these numbers may be a foreign language for you, remember, the lowest the numbers, the more light gets in your camera = excellent thing!

Food Photography // Jackie Rueda Photography

so i would definitely suggest this pack. i know this one well and would totally recommend! and then for the training part or books, when it comes to these, there are three that jump in my head right away!

1. flickr
2. jackie rueda’s workshops
3. a beautiful mess – photography tips

flickr was the main source of inspiration, as there are hundreds of amazing photographers there who share their ideas and world. i got to make so many friends and i learned so much from them. the power of observation and trial and error are great tools when we’re learning! with flickr the process is slower, but very enjoyable!

Food Photography // Jackie Rueda Photography

then jackie rueda’s workshops! to be honest i was not a part of any. so why am i suggesting? well, first of all i bought my camera in april 2011. i had no money left after that, but even so i was saving for september’s workshop. and in the meantime i was learning at full speed, sometimes my head would go nuts over the results and the exposure and speed settings. but then something happened and there was no workshop in that month, so i kept learning and i was starting some photo sessions with some of my friends, in order to learn my way on portraits.

i was an avid reader of photography magazines (mainly digital camera and photo plus) as well, as now everything made sense to me. when i had my point and shoot, i tried to read these magazines, but i couldn’t understand much, so i would end up giving up. these magazines were amazing to read and i would always have my camera next to me, which made it possible to learn so much. and then when jackie had her workshops ready again, i thought i could save that money for a new lens, because i felt i had the knowledge already. anyway, for small business owners and bloggers, i definitely recommend this one – superstar workshop!

but for all the testemonials that everyone leaves on jackie’s workshops, i know for sure that they are amazing. asides from that, jackie is very talented and she’s always available for questions, and to share her knowledge with everyone else. she deserves all the goodness in this world, because she’s that good heart!

Food Photography // Jackie Rueda Photography

last, but not least, sisters elsie and emma, who run a beautiful mess, are great photographers as well and having understood the power of photography for their blog and business, they share their knowledge, tips and tricks on photography with a very simple language and delightful photography examples. i love their look and the way they are always so keen in explaining their tricks!

so for now, these are my tips on photography, for those who are starting out. i plan on writing more about this, because i also learned a lot along the way, so stay tuned for more! do you have any question you’d like to see answered here? come on, don’t be shy, leave your questions on my email ( last questions were about blogging and time management.

ps. it’s never enough to ask, are you already following me on my brand new facebook page?
ps. i always buy my photography equipment here! it’s always cheaper than any other store in portugal and even with shipping costs (it comes from the netherlands) it’s cheaper. they are fast and really professional!

images: jackie rueda


  1. Great, great tips!
    Starting to save for a shiny new camera and lens and learning all I can until then.
    Meanwhile, I’ll have to continue to make do with my seven year old G6. Never knew how many years I would keep it when I first bought it, but I can’t say I regret buying Canon. ;)

    • oh yes, Canon is a great brand! my very first best-seller was shot with a Canon point and shoot! i always recommend that you learn with what you have and then upgrade when you feel you need more! enjoy these tips and let me know if you have any doubts!

  2. wow really great tips!!! I still remember when I bought my first digital camera, it was back in 2006 (I don’t even remember the name of the brand), but it was nice to start with. In 2010 I decided that I wanted to do something more and I went for the basic basic canon, 1000D (which is the same I still have). I didn’t had much money to spend, and I just wanted to learn how to photograph properly (I’m still learning… and still have so much to learn by the way). The first lens I’ve bought was same as you, the prime lens 50mm 1.8, and I’m so glad I did!!
    As you’ve said we have to learn the concept of composition and use our own body to create it and try to explore different angles. Love the colours I get too!
    Now I’m thinking about buying a new camera, and still don’t know which one, maybe canon 60D, I’ll wait a bit more. Once a canon, always a canon :)
    As for flickr I spend hours checking new photos, I really love to observe new photos and try to learn with them.
    I believe your next tips show be, what helped you to find your own “brand” & style :) This is something I’m struggling to achieve.
    Once again brilliant post

    • hello lovely lady!!! yes, i was going to mention the canon 1000d or the neweste model, the canon 1100d, but as i never worked with them, i didn’t want to recommend them. as for the upgrade, you should definitely do it! go for the 60d as they say it’s pretty awesome and i know you’ll see a whole new world with it!!! as for the style and branding, that’s a really great question, i’ll definitely answer that one!!! ;) thank you for your always loving support!

  3. GREat post!! I couldn’t agree more with the fixed lens, everyone reacts like that when they realize that it doesn’t have zoom but they don’t know it works wonders. It made such a diference in my pictures when I upgraded. x

    • hello sandra, how are you? thank you so much for your visit and comment!!! you are totally right!!! even though i have upgraded to a professional camera and to the 50mm 1.4, i now what i felt when i had my 50mm 1.8. it’s amazing!!! it has to do with our priorities and needs and sometimes you just don’t need a zoomie, but something better that doesn’t cost a small fortune, because we know there are zoom lenses that are amazing, of course!

  4. Hey! Thanks for all the tips! This is exactly what I needed to know. I’m saving for my first DSLR and also saving for Jackie’s workshops next year. I took her class Aventura this year and i Loved it!

    • hello monica, so good to know!!! way to go on saving for such a good thing! your world will be so different after that! and i hope you can save for anotehr jackie’s workshop, you’ll learn so much for sure!!!

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