What's in this session?

  • DSLR Camera Body (1:38)
  • 6D Mk II (3:30)
  • 5D Mk IV (3:40)
  • Fast Lens (4:02)
  • Lens Pen (5:14)
  • Pelican Case (5:56)
  • Neewer Glass Prism (6:45)
  • Backdrop Kit (8:50)
  • Editing software - GIMP/Lightroom/Photoshop (9:46)

Show notes and resources

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The Transcript

Brady: Hey, we just launched a free brand new resource for churches called The Nucleus Playbook. You can find it at playbook.church. Within The Nucleus Playbook you’re going to find a number of different step-by-step strategies for increasing next steps at your church. We think that next steps are the absolute best way to measure and improve church growth and church health, and so within The Nucleus Playbook, you’ll find plays like the New Visitor Freebie Follow-Up, or The 2-Part Church Announcements Formula, or The Instant Prayer Request System, and a ton of others all geared to improving and increasing next steps at your church. Again, it’s 100% free. We poured more than 200 hours into this resource. You can access it by going to www.playbook.church.

Well hey there, and welcome to Pro Church Daily. The show where in 10 minutes or less you’re going to get your daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus while we navigate the biggest communication shift we’ve seen in one, two, three, four, 500 years. I’m joined to my right, your left, it’s Alex Mills and we’re talking today about seven indispensable photography tools for churches.

Alex: Yeah. You know, Brady, we love putting together these listicles.

Brady: We are Pro Church Tools.

Alex: Yeah, and so we’ll do these for all different kinds of tools that your church can use. You know photography is my wheelhouse. We really believe in photography for your church and how important real photos of real people at your church are. So I just collected some of my favorite tools that I think your church can and should be using. Get them into your hands. We’re going to have links for all of these tools in the show notes below. So let’s jump right in. We have seven tools we’re going to talk about today. Before we get into this first tool, which is a camera body, I just want to talk about full-frame cameras versus mirrorless cameras for a second. I’m suggesting a full-frame DSLR camera body for this reason for your church, is that when you buy a full-frame camera, there’s a lot better quality glass that’s available for DSLR cameras than there are for mirrorless cameras right now.

Brady: And by glass you mean lenses.

Alex: Lenses. I adopted this philosophy for myself. I invest a lot more in lenses than I do for DSLR camera bodies because tech is always just rapidly changing for camera bodies, but camera glass, camera lenses, are transcendent almost. They can last as long as you can keep them around. And so I’m buying camera bodies and switching them out all the time, but I’m always using that glass. So I want you to buy for your church a DSLR full-frame camera body. full-frame because you’re going to get the most light possible out of a DSLR, but you’re also going to be able to swap that body out when there’s new tech available, but keep using the lenses that you own. And so-

Brady: They’re the most shallow depth of field.

Alex: Exactly. And so I have two options. One’s a bit of an entry level and next is a pro level. I’m a Canon shooter so I chose Canon examples for the sake of this video. But there are great cameras from other brands like Nikon, and Sony, and Fuji, and all these other brands, and they’re all going to have competitive bodies within this price range, so if you’re a Nikon-

Brady: Can I ask you this question?

Alex: Of course.

Brady: Does a full-frame body, because I don’t know, are they like a ton more expensive than a mirrorless or something else?

Alex: I think you’re going to be able to … They do tend to be a little bit more expensive, but you are going to be able to find a full-frame body within your price range. So that’s why I’ve included two.

Brady: Okay. So it’s not like every full-frame starts at 4K.

Alex: Right, and so the first option I have is the Canon 6D Mark II that’s retailing for 1,600 bucks on Amazon right now. That’s an entry level body. Like I said, you have such a wide range of lenses available for that camera. If you have the budget and you want to step it up, I’d recommend the Canon 5D Mark IV that retails for about $3,100 just for the body. So it is pricey, but that’s a pro level DSLR. You won’t be disappointed in that body and you’re going to love the 6D Mark II as well. It just depends where your budget is. Like I said, there are competitive bodies in other brands, so whatever brand you like, go with that, but those are the two Canon bodies that I would recommend.

Next I recommend you buy a fast lens. By that I mean a lens that has a very low aperture. In this case I chose the 50 millimeter 1.8. So that means you’re gonna get the most light possible because in churches, when you’re doing photography in church, sometimes your building is dark. You’ve got the lights turned off during your service, and you need the most late available to you. So you want to get a fast lens. That’s indicated in that 1.8 number. This 50 millimeter lens is cheap. It’s small. Retails for about $125 on Amazon or you can pick one up.

Brady: Wow.

Alex: They’re super small and compact. What I like about the 50 millimeter focal range on a full-frame body is that it’s actually the most accurate representation of what you see with your eyes. So I’m seeing you at about the equivalent of 50 millimeters, and so that’s why I love that lens. It’s super fast. You’re going to get a ton of light and for a very minimal investment.

Brady: And this is the type of lens that like lets you blur out the background.

Alex: Yeah.

Brady: Where you get that bokeh look.

Alex: Exactly.

Brady: That’s one of the ways that you can separate your quality of photographs.

Alex: Yes.

Brady: You know, we now have portrait mode in a lot of our phones and we’re just seeing that tech now come to mobile devices. But if you can get that blurred out background, that’s like a trademark look of, “Oh, that’s quality.”

Alex: Yeah. So you’ve brought your camera, you’ve bought your lens. You’re going to need to clean that lens. It’s something that often gets overlooked.

Brady: Oh my gosh. I overlook this all the time.

Alex: But you have to clean that lens, and it doesn’t take a lot of money to do so. Get on Amazon or click the link in the show notes below and get yourself some LensPens. There’s a kit on Amazon that I pulled up for $15. LensPen is a brand.

Brady: Oh cool.

Alex: These things are awesome. They are literally the size of a pen and they have two sides. One is like a gentle brush and the other is kind of like a convex felt that you can rub right on your lens. These are the best cleaning solutions I’ve found for lenses. So I’d recommend picking up some LensPens. So you’ve got your camera, you got your cleaning equipment. You’re going to need a carrying case. Now we’ve talked about Lowepro before. It’s one of our favorite brands of backpacks, but for your church I’m going to recommend a Pelican case.

Brady: A classic.

Alex: Yes, and the reason I recommend that is because these things are indestructible. Directly from the Pelican website they say they’re, “unbreakable, watertight.” One of them I was reading is even waterproof up to like one meter. You can just throw this thing underwater. I don’t know why you would, but you can. They’re airtight, they’re dustproof, they’re chemical resistant, corrosion proof, and they’re fully customizable.

A lot of these Pelican cases have these foam inserts and you can either just cut out the foam, depending on what gear you have, or order like modular foam that they’ve designed for your gear. So these things are indestructible no matter who is throwing this gear around at your church. If it’s in the Pelican case, it’s going to be safe. Now, you’ve got your gear, you’ve got your case. Now you actually have to take some photos. I know what it’s like to take photos in church. If you’re taking photos in the same building every week, it can get a little redundant. It can maybe even get a little stale because it’s always the same environment.

Brady: Repetitiveness. Like, “I gotta make this feel new again.”

Alex: Exactly. So there’s this really cool tool that I use. Again, you can pick it up for $11 off of Amazon. It’s called Neewer or Neewer, N-E-E-W-E-R.

Brady: Neewer is I think how it’s actually pronounced.

Alex: Right. All it is, is a triangular glass prism. You say, “Alex, what are you going to use that for?” Well if you take this triangular glass prism and you hold it in front of your Lens, you can get these light refractions. If you’re shooting with that 51.8 at like that fast aperture, you can get like these glares and, this color fringe, and play with the bokeh, and get some very cool effects in camera that you couldn’t produce with anything else. I have one of these. Brandon, another guy in the office, has one of these he uses for video. It just like unlocks another dimension of creativity, especially if you’re in a space where you’re taking photos all the time.

Brady: I remember when we were in Hawaii and Brandon pulls out this prism and I’m like, “Oh, did you bring Alex a prism?” He was like, “This is like eight bucks. I bought it myself.” I was like, “Oh cool.” We were with another guy named Alex, another photographer named Alex, and he’s looking at this prism and Brandon’s like, “So if I hold it this way, and I take the photo with my other hand, I can actually invert the image and infract the [inaudible 00:08:13].” It’s like, I don’t know what they’re saying.

Alex: Yeah. It’s crazy.

Brady: When I saw the photo, I was like, “Oh my gosh.”

Alex: Yeah.

Brady: So really cool things with an $11 piece of gear.

Alex: Of course, and you can actually even do this for free. I’ll do this on portrait sessions or weddings all the time. I’ll take like a piece of foliage, if we’re outdoors, I’ll take a piece of foliage whether it’s a leaf or like a flower that’s consistent with the color palette, and I’ll hold it directly up against my lens just to get that color. It kind of blurs it out and just add a pop of natural color from the environment to add another like natural element. Like I created that in camera. It’s not something artificial that I added in post, and so the prism just helps achieve that as well.

Brady: Very cool.

Alex: Yeah. Another tool that’s great for churches, again, super cheap, you can pick this up for $45 off of Amazon, is a backdrop kit. I love using these for like themed events. If you’re having a youth night or whatever it is and you want to do like a little photo booth, you can buy this backdrop kit that comes with these two tripod stands and a bar, and you can pick whatever kind of backdrop you want. If you want a solid color, if you want simulated wood, whatever. You can get more expensive ones with more options. Maybe it comes with multiple backdrops.

But set this up as a mobile photo booth and it’s tons of fun. It’s a great way to engage people, and you could brand these as well. I’ve seen churches order custom backdrops that are branded and then people are taking these photos that you took of them, putting them on social and reaching other people with your brand that you never would have reached. That’s a little bit more of an investment to get a branded one, but having a backdrop kit of any sort is great for these kind of mobile photo booths.

Our last tool, number seven, is editing software. You have all your gear, you’re learning how to take photos, you’ve got your backdrop kit, but you have to get these photos on the computer, you have to edit them and get them ready to share. You can do this one of a whole bunch of ways, but I’ve chosen two today. The first editing software we’re going to talk about is free. It’s called GIMP. It’s an editing software that honestly rivals Photoshop. It is that good, but it’s free. You’ll never pay a cent for it. It’s super powerful, super intuitive. It looks just like Photoshop.

Brady: It does.

Alex: It works very similar. It’s everything, honestly, that you could ever need. But if your church has an existing subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud or something you have personally, I do recommend Lightroom for editing and Photoshop for retouching. Those two programs work cohesively back and forth. You can send from Lightroom to Photoshop from within the program. I use Lightroom every day. I think it’s the best. That’s available in the Adobe Creative Cloud.

Brady: Seven indispensable photography tools for churches. That’ll do it for this episode of Pro Church  Daily. We’ll see you next time.

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